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The Christmas Spirit

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian religion lie. "The Word was made flesh" (John 1:14); the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than stare and wriggle and make noises. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets.

For the Son of God to empty Himself and become poor meant a laying aside of glory; a voluntary restraint of power; an acceptance of hardship, malice, and misunderstanding; finally, a death that involved agony—spiritual, even more than physical. It meant love to the uttermost for unlovely men. The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity—hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory—because Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear.

The Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their lives making themselves poor, spending and being spent, giving time, care, and concern to do good to others—and not just their own friends—in whatever way they see a need. There are not as many who show this spirit as there should be. If God in mercy revives us, one of the things He will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives.

—Condensed from Knowing God by J.I. Packer. Copyright (c) Intervarsity Press.