December 10, 2007
By Zoë Elmore
“And exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” Romans 1:23 (NIV)
Each year I participate in an ornament exchange with friends where we forcibly “trade” our ornaments with one another. It never fails that one ornament is very desirable and traded the most often until the game ends. I bet you’ve participated in the same type of ornament or gift exchange, and if you’re like me, it’s one of the highlights of the Christmas season.
This year as I began to print the invitations for the party, one word in particular leapt off of the page; it wasn’t the word “gift” as you might imagine, it was the word “exchange.” I don’t know how I’ve missed the significance of that word before today. To exchange means to give up one thing for another. In the ornament exchange what I give up could be for something better or something worse.
The same is true in my spiritual life; every day I can choose to exchange my worldliness for godliness, and many times I’m on the losing end as I make the wrong choice. I do exactly what this verse warns against as I value other things more than God, and exchange the imperishable for the perishable, especially at this time of year. When I’m thoughtless and uncaring, it’s like exchanging gold for iron. When I neglect my spiritual life, it’s like exchanging diamonds for dust.
Paul’s words in Philippians 3:8, “to count everything else as rubbish that we might gain Christ” is my memory verse for this month, and Romans 12:1 is encouraging me to exchange my pride, my self-focus, my selfish ambitions, and my worldliness for a life of holiness as a holy and pleasing sacrifice to God.
You might think I’m encouraging you to exchange everything you have, and you are right! Exchanging your self-centered life to pursue holiness is the only way to experience real life—eternal life. The blessings you will receive from God, both in this lifetime and in the eternal life to come, far outweigh anything this life has to offer. In fact it’s to die for!
As you prepare to exchange gifts with family and friends this Christmas season be mindful of the spiritual blessings you receive when you exchange the things of this world for something far greater.
Dear Lord, forgive my selfishness and help me to remember the blessings and benefits of exchanging my worldliness for spiritual wisdom and holiness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas by Sharon Jaynes
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Write down the worldly things you can exchange and the spiritual riches you will receive.
Find someone to hold you accountable for your exchanges.
Are you pursuing personal holiness in this holiday season?
What areas of your life is the Lord asking you to exchange?
Isaiah 40:7-8, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (NIV)
Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ.” (NIV)
2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (NIV)
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