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A Lesson from Christmas paper

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  • A Lesson from Christmas paper

    Each Christmas, we exchange gifts with our family and friends to commemorate God’s Gift of Salvation through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son. Traditionally, each gift is neatly wrapped in colorful, attractive paper, decorated with ribbons and bows, and placed under the tree until Christmas Day.

    Yet, when we’re handed a gift, we immediately rip off all that lovely packaging and throw it in the trash. (Okay, except maybe the bow). Why? Because the paper is just a temporary covering that has served its purpose, and is no longer of any use. The important stuff is on the inside.

    A very important spiritual lesson can be gleaned from this tradition.

    The present world system--the kingdom of Satan--operates contrary to the godly principles espoused by the kingdom of God, and is rife with greed, corruption and injustice.
    And inherent in, and embodied by this system, is an unjust standard by which a person’s value is assessed. Under this system, it is money, material possessions, and social status--not the content of one’s character—that are the measure of intrinsic worth.

    Who is not aware that the wealthy are generally regarded more highly, and treated with more respect than those who live in poverty? Upscale retail stores and restaurants routinely practice such discrimination, often blatantly so. And too often, money and “connections” preempt the pursuit of truth and justice, influencing the outcome of law enforcement investigations and court cases.

    The truth is, the world has a double standard—one for the rich, and one for the poor. One of the clearest examples of this disparity is seen on a typical airline flight: the spaciousness and comfort of first class seating is available for those who can afford it, and coach for all those who cannot. We cannot call this unjust, per se, but it is undeniably an example of how the world will offer better accommodations to those with material wealth than those without it.

    It’s easy to buy into this unjust standard, and assess someone by his or her appearance, or how much money he or she has: it’s the way of the world, and a natural trait of carnality.
    How easy it is for an everyman to ingratiate himself to one who is rich and famous, or someone blessed with an athlete's body and a model's face.
    It's a proven fact that good looks usually make a celebrity more popular or influential--which is why most people who make a living in front of a camera are attractive.

    Yet God holds His people to a higher standard. Our perspective, attitude and conduct should be patterned after Jesus, our example.
    God incarnated Himself in humanity to show us the Way into His kingdom, and to demonstrate with clarity, Who He is, and what is expected of us.

    Jesus surrounded Himself with the common people of His day—the lower classes and social outcasts that many people looked down on as undesirables. In fact, it was the poor, uneducated and even diseased--those shunned by society--that Jesus sought out--as long as they were hungry for the true Word of God. More often than not, it was the poor in spirit who sought the treasures of the kingdom of God.

    Wealth and affluence did not impress Him, for He was concerned only with the inner man, knowing that all material things will perish one day along with this earth, and that only a soul sanctified by God held any value. Jesus in fact, assures us that possession of the entire earth and all its wealth by an individual, would amount to nothing if that person ends up losing his own soul. (Matt 16:26)

    A person’s worth has nothing to do with how much is in his bank account, where he lives, what he drives, or where he buys his clothes. Regardless of the monetary value of such things, they are simply outer packaging, and are ultimately, worthless. Everything made by man, was either made from materials found upon the earth, or mined from inside the earth. Since the earth is presently under the curse of God, nothing man made can hold any true value in God's eyes.

    A person’s worth is not predicated on outward appearance, color, educational level, size, shape or color. These are all external, transient things, having nothing to do with real worth, which is found in the heart, the inner man.

    Still, there is nothing inherently evil about wealth. King Solomon was arguably the wealthiest man who ever lived, and it was God Who blessed him so. (Unfortunately, Solomon abandoned the true wealth of godly wisdom, forsaking God through his complicity in promoting paganism--all to please his heathen wives and concubines).

    Moreover, while the Apostle Paul is often misquoted, he never stated that “money is the root of all evil,” but rather the love of money (1 Tim 6:10). One’s wealth can be used for good or evil, depending on the person who is spending it, but too often, money can become a virtual god to a person--the source by which one acquires all his or her wants and needs. There are good rich people, just as there are evil poor people, and God will one day judge all, not as the world judges, but according to what is in the heart.

    One day everyone will stand before the same Judge. All--rich and poor, kings and slaves, pious and atheist, important people and nobodies--will stand as equals before Him. And the justice He will administer will not be blind like man’s justice—the guilty will not go free, and the innocent will not be wrongly punished. The fiery gaze of the Lord will look deep into the heart of each person before Him, as all truth is be laid bare, and the darkest of secrets revealed.

    This Judge will care not a whit for the financial assets those before Him may have once held. Nor will He be influenced by important people they may know. (Most of whom will also be cowering before the same Judge).

    On that day, many who have worn the most elegant apparel money can buy will stand naked and destitute before the throne of God, while some, having suffered abject poverty in ragged garments, will be robed in dazzling white robes of God’s righteousness. As with the world, there will be two distinct groups of people before the Judge. However, instead of the rich and the poor, there will be only the saved, and the lost, as determined by the blood of God’s Lamb.

    What is important to God is what we are, not what we have. Beauty of the face and body will fade, but a beautiful spirit abides forever. Wealth and material possessions will be consumed by the flame, and will perish as if they had never existed, but genuine virtue such as faith, love and integrity, are eternal, and are as gold tried and purified by fire.

    Like the Christmas paper, all of the outward things of this life are temporary, and there will come a time when they will have served their purpose and will be discarded. The day is rapidly approaching when the Judge will remove and burn all of the outer packaging—along with the hay, wood and stubble of an unfruitful life. All that will survive is the gold, silver and precious stones inherent in a heart filled with pure love and faith.

    The important stuff is on the inside--in the heart
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