Heard around this time of year by Christians and non-Christians alike is talk about the “Christmas spirit”. People post on social media about “getting into the Christmas spirit”, and motivate themselves to do so by stringing lights, playing holiday songs, donating to their charity of choice and decking the halls with red and green. (Or silver and gold, depending on their sense of style.) While I haven’t found a concise definition of what constitutes the Christmas spirit, feelings of joy, wonder, peace, and doing good to others would certainly be considered elements of it.
But while enjoying decorations, music and lights are not necessarily bad things to do*, many times those feelings are fleeting, and charitable acts fade after December 25th. In the United States, decorations can be packed away the very next day, although some can still be seen on New Year’s Day. (There are those who leave lights up nearly year-round, but that is usually due to laziness, rather than a desire to celebrate Christmas all year.) Is it possible to have a spirit of Christmas every day of the year? Can peace and joy be found without wrapping paper and tinsel?
Despite society’s best intentions, the comfort and joy that Christmas represents can never come by “getting into the Christmas spirit”:
Works done by unregenerate men…cannot please God, nor make a man meet to receive the grace of God… -LBCF 16: 7
Only by repenting and trusting in Christ can one’s works be acceptable to God through the righteousness of Christ. And this faith is not of ourselves. (Ephesians 2:8)
The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts…-LBCF 14:1
The Christmas spirit is temporary; it cannot save. The Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, is eternal and unchangeable. It is He who reveals the glories of the triune God to sinners.
The spirit of Christmas may call attention to the babe in a manger. The Holy Spirit was instrumental in His birth.
And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.’ -Luke 1:35
The spirit of Christmas may remember Jesus. But the Holy Spirit testifies of the truth of Christ, of His being fully God and fully man, of His birth, death, and resurrection; of our sinful estate, of our need of Him, of the splendor and majesty of the Father, Son, and Spirit.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…
The Christmas spirit may produce warm feelings. But the Spirit produces good fruit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.
So if you celebrate Christmas but do not know Christ nor His Spirit, realize that the spirit of Christmas will never deliver the lasting peace and joy you seek. But pray that the Spirit of Christ will open your eyes, that you may turn from your sin and believe in Him.
And if you celebrate Christmas and do know Christ and His Spirit, enjoy the festivities. Talk about the Incarnation to your surrounding unbelievers. But also remember the Spirit that bears witness to the Incarnation. For that Spirit is more glorious and wonderful than any spirit of Christmas can ever be.
*This article is not going to address the rightness or wrongness of observing Christmas. For a wonderful series on that subject, please listen to Al Martin’s Christmas and the Christian.