Last time you read about Jesus’ birth and how the family had to flee to avoid King Herod’s ‘competitive to the extreme’ fear. How many talented people do companies lose because other employees refuse to offer support? How many churches lose capable members because others refuse to listen? Truthfully, there is a little of King Herod in all of us. The question is: What should we do about it? How can we learn from Herod’s tragic mistakes? What will enable us to be more supportive of new people and ideas? Maybe now, we are ready to learn from the wise men’s visit.
“After the interview with Herod the wise men went their way. Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house where the child and his mother Mary were and they fell down before him and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Mat. 2:9-11)
Herod saw the Christ child as competition and a threat to his rule. His reaction was to crush whatever stood in his way. The wise men however had a different response:
† They saw the star… Everyone could see it. Why were foreigners the only ones who understood the significance? Why not a Jewish priest? Why not anyone already in Israel? Maybe they weren’t looking. What about you? Are you looking for the star?
† They followed… They dropped everything to follow a star. Some historians predict that it might have taken months to make this kind of long, arduous journey. Why did they do it? Because they sensed God’s will. Was it easy? Of course not but they followed with faith. Will you?
† They were filled with joy… The wise men kept looking and following until reaching their destination. At times they must have been tempted to turn back… to simply go home. Yet they kept pressing on. Their reward at the end of the road was an unspeakable joy.
† They fell down and worshipped… Others only saw a baby but the wise men saw God and responded with humility and adoration. What was it like to look into the eyes of God? Yet, you have the opportunity each day. Are you willing to bow down and worship God?
† They gave their best gifts… The wise men were called from afar to witness Christ’s birth. They responded by giving the very best of what they had. Think about it. You are offered the awesome opportunity to be in relationship with almighty God. Will you respond with your best?
I thought the story of the ‘wise men’ was simply a children’s story. I was so wrong. There are precious gifts of wisdom for us all if we are willing to learn. For this upcoming year, if you want to become more of a ‘Wise Man’ than a ‘Herod’ there are questions we should ponder as individuals and as a church:
- Do you have a plan for personal spiritual growth? When you are busy focusing on your relationship with God, you are not as likely to feel threatened by the actions of others.
- Does your church have a plan for spiritual growth? Have they made a commitment before God to help others grow stronger in their faith?
- Are you willing to change jobs to better serve God? Would you be open to moving? Would you give up your church position to give someone else an opportunity to serve?
- Is your church willing to listen to new ideas? Will they make adjustments in order to facilitate the needs and potential contributions of new people?
- Is your life an example for others to follow? Will they see in you the wise man following God’s star wherever it may lead? No one expects perfection but are you willing to try?
- Does your church support leaders who have a vision for growth and inspire enthusiasm for the future? Will you support that leadership or better yet… be a part?
Christmas has come and gone… now what? How should you respond to the birth of the King of kings as the New Year begins? Will you be ‘deeply disturbed’ like Herod because of the inevitable changes a commitment to Christ requires? Will you be ‘filled with joy’ like the wise men because they made a commitment to follow the star and found the ‘precious babe lying in a manger?’ The star beckons…