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THE SO-CALLED HAPPY HOLIDAYS
by Philip Owen

             We’re right in the middle of the three pillars of the so-called holiday season—Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  The four “F’s” dominate this time of year—family, festivities, food, and football.  Throw in some gifts and you’ve pretty well defined for most people the six-week period that ends one year and begins another.  It is a time of heightened expectancy and of hope for happiness.  Sadly, statisticians tell us, it is also the time of the greatest disappointments and the most suicides.  For the truth is that regardless of the level of poverty or prosperity, no amount of natural blessing—not even the fellowship of our natural families—will satisfy our hearts’ longings.  Man is a spiritual being with a spiritual nature; he has eternal needs and longings that no amount of natural blessing will satisfy.  Offer a man who is on the verge of starvation a bar of gold and see if it satisfies him.  Even at that, you will be far more successful than the person who thinks that the events surrounding the “happy holidays” will fulfill the deepest longings and need in his soul.  It cannot be done.

             God has provided a recipe for genuine happiness at this time (and all times) of year.  The fact that it is counterintuitive merely underlines the fact that it is God’s truth, not man’s opinion, and, therefore, can and should be believed.  Surfeiting on the things of this life, rather than satisfying our natural desires, inflames them.  It is as if, finding a flickering little candle flame, we toss on a piece of paper, then a mass of paper, then some twigs, and finally some logs.  The flame feeds and grows on those things.  So it is with our natural appetites.  God’s solution is simple and the only one that works.  “Mortify [“subdue”] therefore your members which are upon the earth” (Col. 3:5).  Paul then lists some of those “members” that must be subdued, which include passion, evil desires, and greed.

             Divesting ourselves of interest in all that the flesh holds dear would be a futile effort in self-reformation except for what the Lord through the Apostle Paul explains as an essential and blessed first step:  “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of the Father.  Set your affection [“mind”] on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1, 2).  We are to exercise our appetite for things that profit eternally.  Just as most children do not need to be taught to eat sweets but must develop a palate for wholesome food (Do you remember some nutritious food you despised as a child but, being required to eat, you developed a taste for as an adult?), we are called upon to partake of Christ’s fellowship and of eternal things as revealed in His Word and exercise our appetite for those things.

             Disappointments and sadness are at the very heart of all things natural—even the best of things like family.  Only the Lord offers true peace, joy, and satisfaction.  Only as we yield ourselves to Him do we find comfort and contentment.  The best that the natural world has to offer is ephemeral.  But the love of God in Christ is eternal, and those who fill their lives with Him, those who seek to please Him and do His will, will find a joy that transcends any solely human or natural blessing.  Perhaps you face this time of year with high anticipation; perhaps you face it with great trepidation.  In either case, remember Paul’s inspired words to the church at Colosse and live in “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you . . . and bringeth forth fruit” (1:5, 6).  “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10).

          May we find such fellowship with our Savior and Lord that, as the hymnist said, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.

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