Here is a small portion of the Bible that I never read before with the intention of getting personal meaning from it:
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Here’s what I learned on Sunday: We are in the era of Satan’s collapse. The kingdom of God is advancing. Christians overcome their enemies by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Preaching the word is a humbling exercise: treading on serpents and scorpions (wouldn’t we rather be saving endangered sea turtles or discovering new birds in the rainforest?). Serpents and scorpions are venomous; however, Jesus already delivered the head-blow to the serpent. Satan is rendered harmless. What we experience is the wrath of angry Satan because he couldn’t take down the Lamb he wanted. Even if the enemy gets our dead bodies, it doesn’t get us. God is in control, and He has no intention of losing His people to the enemy. Be comforted in belonging to a faithful Savior.
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.
— from “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, 1905
“The Gift of the Magi” is one of my favorite Christmas stories. It shows a right attitude for gift-giving. In my home (and heart) there is a strong temptation to give a gift that will in some way be handy for the both the giver and the receiver. This story points to the first Christmas gifts–those given by the Magi to the baby Jesus, all expensive luxury items purely meant to honor the new King. The story also shows self-sacrifice for the sake of giving something wonderful to the one you love. That reminds me of God giving His Son Jesus to us, His people, so we can enjoy the ultimate gift: eternal life in paradise.
The husband and wife in the story ended up looking rather foolish, but their intentions were beautiful. It makes me wonder what I have that I can foolishly give away in love.
Merry Christmas, everyone!