The week after Christmas is the time when I reflect on memories of past holidays. I like to remember the good times we have had. I need to do this because there were times when I dreaded Christmas. Instead of Christmas with the Cranks, it was Christmas with the Crank! December would roll around, and I would change into Mr. Crank. With six little kids aged 8, 7, 6, 5, 3 and 1, I dreaded the thought of finding all the toys on their Christmas List. I hated Cabbage Patch Dolls. I hated Teddy Ruxpin. They haunted my dreams and drained what little money we had. My eyes would glaze over thinking about how much my wife would spend trying to provide the ‘perfect‘ Christmas for our Six children. I must confess I dreaded Christmas. It lost all meaning for me other than Money and how little I had.
The amazing thing is that God changed my heart. I still like to be frugal, but we have settled in to our new lifestyle and Christmas is a wonderful time for me. My eyes still glaze over a bit, and I still fuss about how much we spend, but I look forward to seeing my kids and grandkids, to staying up late, playing games, playing with the grandkids. Now maybe this change is due somewhat to growing older, but for the most part God has worked on my mind, my mindset. He has changed the way I look at Christmas. I’ve been called Scrooge, even Grinch, but not so much now. I have realized the importance of having a right mindset towards Christmas.
While I was reflecting this week, God brought Philippians 2:5 to my mind. “Let this mind (phroneo) be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”
The Greek word used here is “phroneo”. Some translators use the word “attitude” instead of “mind”. Have this attitude that Jesus had, etc. But I believe this means much more than “attitude”. If we view this as just an attitude to have, it really weakens what it means to have the same mind as Jesus. If it is merely an attitude we are to strive for, that makes us seem like dogs. God is up in heaven and he’s watching us, and whenever one of us fetches real good, or has a real good attitude when he asks us to do something, God reaches down and pats our head and says, that’s a good boy, Jim, here’s a nice treat for you to chew on. Phroneo is based upon the word “phren”, which is the Greek word for diaphragm, meaning to curb or restrain. The Greeks viewed the diaphragm as a very important controlling organ. It combined the heart as the seat of passions as well as the mind as the seat of mental faculties. So the word “phroneo” refers precisely to the ability not only to think but to also control one’s thoughts and attitudes. To the Greeks, an “a-phren” (without control) was a FOOL.
The Mind of Christ Governs our Mind Will and Emotions
So, this word for mind phroneo refers to a mindset, a way of thinking that GOVERNS our mind our will and our emotions.
Now to put on the mind that was in Christ is a lot more than a change in attitude, or a renewed outlook in life. It wasn’t a good attitude that took Jesus to the Cross. It wasn’t a sunny disposition that enabled Him to endure the lashes that tore His back. No New Year’s resolution about having a good attitude could have enabled him to stand up to those soldiers beating and mocking Him without ever striking back.
No, Jesus had something deep down within Him that controlled all those passions and thoughts and desires. Jesus had a mindset that controlled His actions and attitudes. And the amazing truth from Philippians 2:5 is that we can have that same mind controlling our thoughts and our will. That is what Philippians 2: 13 says: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Your Mindset toward Christmas says a great deal about your mindset toward God and His Word.
Having the Right Mindset Toward Christmas says two things about you. I’ll discuss one and then toward the end I’ll discuss the second.
First: Having the Mind of Christ means you Connect to one another in Humility.
The Mind of Christ will not come into a proud mind. In order for Jesus to have the right mindset to even be born and so bring us Christmas, look what He had to do:
Jesus made the first Christmas possible because of His “phroneo” that enabled Him to lay aside His Divine rights and become a servant, doing the will of His Father. If we are to enjoy a Christ-Centered Christmas, we must have the very same “phroneo” governing our thinking and emotions. We must have the “Passion” of Christ controlling our mind will and emotions.
As I reflected this week, I wondered if the first Christmas had been up to me, would it have happened? Would I have been Mr. Crank or would I have worshipped the Christ?
I considered Zacharias, and how he was humbled in the presence of Gabriel. He willingly became mute and went home to father John the Baptist.
I looked at Elizabeth and how she thanked God for providing her with a child, and so taking away the reproach of barrenness which had weighed her down her entire life. She willingly humbled herself to God’s Will without boasting, but with a deep sense of humility.
What can you say about Mary? She willingly humbled herself to God, knowing the scorn that she would endure because of her unexplainable pregnancy. Her magnificat is testimony of her mindset toward the will of God. A more beautiful picture of humility is nowhere to be found.
Joseph is the overlooked one, but his mindset was one of love and humility. He belived the angel and endured the scorn of friends and probably his own family. He willingly embraced Mary as his betrothed and patiently waited to consummate the marriage until the time of her purification.
I considered the lowly shepherds and their willingness to go and seek the Messiah. They were the lowest of Jews and yet they were witness to the greatest miracle of God, the birth of Jesus Christ. They believed and told the story to others.
The Magi reveal a mindset that said Jesus is worth giving my time and money for. They sacrificed a great deal to come and honor Christ the Messiah, the King of the Jews.
Herod is an interesting man. He pretended to have the right mindset, but He wanted only to murder this ‘King’. He demonstrates the true Mr. Crank, the one who despises the real Christmas. He did everything he could to try to ruin the first Christmas.
Each of the main characters (except Herod) in this “First Christmas” had a mindset of humility and willingness to do whatever God willed. They had the mindset of Jesus when it came to doing the Will of God. They humbled themselves to accomplishing God’s Will.
Herod faked His worship and humility. Herod tried to wipe out Christmas. Herod was the original Grinch that tried to Steal Christmas. He did not have the mindset of Jesus Christ.
What about us? Would our mindset have allowed the “First Christmas” to happen? Would God have used us to bring His Son into the world? This thought has worked its way into my mindset. As I have yielded my heart and mind to the will of God, He has brought a new fascination and enjoyment of a Christmas that honors His Son.
If we approach Christmas with anything besides humility and worship, we demonstrate a mindset which would have prevented the “First Christmas”. We can see that mindset in the life of Peter:
Second: Having the Mind of Christ Means You Mind the Things of God!
Having the Mindset of Christ means we “Mind the Things of God!”
What if Christmas Was Up to You? Are You a CRANK? Are You Selfish and man-centered? Are You Minding the Things of Man?
If Christmas was up to you, would it have happened? Would Jesus have been born? Would Jesus have been worshipped as the Son of God? Would He have received the Gifts and Honor due the God of Creation? The mind of Christ is set upon the things of God, anything less is a hindrance to Christ, and demonstrating the mind of Satan.
The “First Christmas” demonstrated the Mind of Christ, a mindset that we should have throughout the year. Humility towards man, and Passion toward the Will of God!
Would Christmas have happened if it was up to you?
You Can Have Christmas with the Crank, or You Can Have Christmas with the Christ.
The Choice is Yours.