Every year, at this time, the beloved Dr Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, can be found on one of our local or cable stations. It is a humorous story and one which provides a wonderful lesson for children young and old. But the fact is, there are real "grinches" who steal Christmas from many, each and every year. Some of theses grinches have been around since the birth of Christ.
The first grinch which comes to my mind is simply busyness. It is reflected in the birth story of Luke chapter 2 where Mary and Joseph were forced to take lodging in a stable because there was "no room for them" in the inn. Has it ever struck you as odd that in our beloved "manger scenes" there are no innkeepers present to honor the new born child? Well, this shouldn't be a great surprise, the inn was full! I'm sure the innkeepers were extremely busy that night. I'm afraid it is often the case for us as well. But when our busyness keeps us from spending time with the Christ child, we need to be aware that a "grinch" has snuck in.
Perhaps a second "grinch" is pride. That seems to be the case with king Herod. In Matthew chapter 2 we are told that the wise men came and asked him, "Where is he who is born king of the Jews?" This question didn't sit well with Herod. He wanted no one around with a title of king but him! The result was a diabolical plot to get rid of this new born child. Now I doubt that any of us are as desperate for power as king Herod, but many will go to great lengths to keep Christ from taking reign over their lives. When this occurs a "grinch" has snuck in.
Finally, for some the "grinch" is an attitude of "self-sufficiency" that distorts their perspective. It is interesting that none of the religious leader of the day made their way to the manger. Perhaps they thought that they just didn't need the Christ child - they were getting along pretty well on their own. Unfortunately, for those who have been captured by this grinch, it is often some devastating circumstance that eventually brings them to a point of recognizing their error. We don't need to wait for this to happen. Christ wants to be our sufficiency - always!
I hope and pray that Christmas will be a wonderful time for all. But in order for that to happen we need to be on guard: Don't let a "grinch" steal your Christmas! Rather, let your hearts and minds be captured by Him!
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Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.