This article is about the poverty and riches of Christmas.

Source: Clarion, 1997. 2 pages.

Riches and Poverty


Christmas is the time of joy at the end of the year in which we rejoice in the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the time when we often give presents to each other; when we receive pretty Christmas cards, and the well wishes of our friends and acquaintances. And all this joy is because we are celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. A birthday always calls for a feast. When our loved ones have their birthday we all come together to celebrate the fact that he or she received an extra year of life from the Lord. We rejoice in God’s goodness to our loved ones, and so to us. We could enjoy their presence for one more year. A similar thing happens throughout all Christianity on the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord. We celebrate and we give presents, but are we celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, or who He is, or are we celebrating the fact that He has lived for one more year, or that He has ruled for one more year, or that He is still with His church after nearly two thousand years? Obviously a lot more is involved in celebrating Christmas than what appears on the Christmas cards. Let us look at what we are doing.

King in a Manger🔗

It hardly needs saying that what the world presents as the authentic Christmas celebration is a caricature of the true celebration. In the first place they would have us focus on a little baby in a manger. This picture effectively turns Jesus Christ the Lord into sweet Jesus, and not the almighty ruler of heaven and earth. We remember that our Lord was born in Bethlehem as a descendant of King David. But he was lain in a manger. There was no place for this king’s son in his kingdom, neither for the Son of God in his world. In the eyes of the nation He was begotten outside the marriage bed. Even Joseph and Mary did not fully understand what had happened, and who Jesus was. Sure, they understood that Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit. They understood that a miracle had happened, but they did not understand that Jesus was God. They thought that Jesus was a human begotten by the power of God, and as such could be called the Son of God, but to understand that Jesus was God was beyond them.

That means that they could also not fully understand yet the grace of God revealed in this birth. That grace still had to be manifested, and was. When we remember the birthday of Jesus Christ, therefore, we should not think of a romantic little picture of a child in a manger, with the cows looking on and halos floating about, but on a tremendous act of grace. That child which was born and lay in the manger was God the Son incarnate. He was born just like one of us. He, the Creator became a creature. When we think of this act of grace we realize that our Lord humbled himself to an extent which we cannot understand. He emptied Himself of His divine glory to become a man, subject to all the misery to which we are subject. There He lay in the manger as David’s fallen house, and as God’s Son who humbled himself to become a helpless baby in a hostile world.


On this day we also celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ himself was born. It is the person we are interested in on a birthday. He has shown us His character; He has shown us His love when He humbled himself to such an extent. This humiliation would come to a climax on the cross, where the hostile world would finally reject Him totally, and where God in His hostility against sin would lay the sins of us all on His Son. The grace which the Son of God has shown us in becoming man is the same grace which He has shown on the cross. He loved us so much that He died for us. So we rejoice in the fact that He gained for us the forgiveness of our sins, but even more that God raised Him from the dead, that He lives eternally.

God with Us🔗

We also celebrate that He is still with us. He promised in Matthew 28:20 that He would be with us until the end of the age. We might not be able to see Him, but He has not left us. He is with us in His Spirit and power. So we rejoice. We have not been abandoned, but our glorified Lord continues to humble himself to continue with us. Therefore we may still rejoice, not only in the past, but also in the present and the future. The birth of our Lord was the beginning of our salvation, but we are far richer today than on that day. The Lord has received all authority in heaven and on earth since then, to gather and preserve His church chosen to everlasting life.


But we have forgotten an essential part of birthday celebrations. Normally when we go to someone’s birthday party we bring a present. Again the world knows all about giving presents at Christmas. They give presents to each other so that they too may have something to rejoice about on this day. They even turn this day into a day of general goodwill to all men, but without Christ. We should be different. We should bring our presents to our Lord. It is His birthday. Now perhaps you might ask how are we to do that? The text which stands at the beginning of this meditation comes from a part of the letter in which the apostle Paul is urging the Corinthians to help the poor of the church in Jerusalem. The linchpin of his argument is that as we have received the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, so we ought to show this same grace to the saints who are in need. Our Lord has made us rich. He has given us life and everything in Him. Therefore He asks that we share with His needy ones. He who gives to the needy saints gives to the Lord. He who gives to the needy saints also causes those saints to give thanks to the Lord (2 Corinthians 9:12-13) for the Lord supplies His poor ones with their needs through the generosity of His rich ones.

Gifts for the Poor🔗

In Canada and throughout the Western world there is great abundance, but even there are poor saints. Remember them on this day that they may rejoice together with you in the grace of the Lord, and praise His name. I live in Brazil, and in the churches here there are many needy saints. Their better off brothers could remember them on this day. There is here a desperate need for finances to maintain the preaching of the Word. The churches in the North East of Brazil are finding it difficult to support their trainee ministers. A collection could be held to enable this work to go on. And so we may go on. There are more than enough opportunities to give presents to our Lord on the day we celebrate His birthday, presents acceptable to Him, which will cause His name to be praised. Remember our present giving is like that of dependent children who give presents to their parents. They buy their presents from their parents’ money. We confess before God:

Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.1 Chronicles 29:14

Let us remember our Lord on this day, not only with words, but also with actions, to build His temple, to supply His saints, and to cause the praise of our Lord to abound. Let us give Him what is His, in thankfulness for the grace shown to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

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