Pre-Christmas Encouragement #2

The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Romans 13:11-14

Have you ever noticed that if someone is going to do something bad, they do it when they think no one is watching? And so if a child is thinking about stealing a cookie from the cookie jar, the child will make sure mom isn’t around. If a teenager is foolishly thinking about trying smoking, he is not going to light up a cigarette right in front of his father. The teen goes someplace he thinks his dad won’t see him. We do bad things when we think others will not see.

That is why so often crime is committed at night. People think since it is dark, no one will see what they did. And so if a thief is planning on breaking into a house, he does it in the middle of night, not the middle of the day.

But in the portion of Romans you just read the Apostle Paul reminds us that this is a silly way to think. First of all, God always sees everything. God sees everything we do, whether it is light or dark. He can even see into our heads and read our minds! On top of that, the Son of God could literally just appear out of the sky at any moment. Judgment Day could come at anytime. Imagine you were in the middle of doing something really bad, really naughty, and… never mind your parents or your boss catching you… Jesus caught you! Would that be terrifying?

It need not be. Because what is Jesus coming to bring? Paul told us: “your salvation is nearer now than we first believed.” Jesus will come again unexpectedly, but he’s not coming to try and catch us doing something bad. He suffered and died to pay for all our sins. So, when Jesus comes again on Judgment Day, it is to give us all the blessings of heaven. Jesus loves you so much that even if you were in the middle of sinning when he came back, he would forgive you.

That beautiful fact that Jesus is so incredibly loving doesn’t make us want to sin more, it makes us want to sin less! In Paul’s words, Jesus’ love makes us want to “behave decently” as a way of thanking Jesus for the salvation he won for us when he rose from the dead.

Christmas is coming. When you get presents, you say thank you to the giver. Maybe you even write them a thank you note. When we try to avoid the types of naughty, sinful behavior that people do in the dark, we’re saying thank you to Jesus for giving us the best gift there is—eternal life in heaven!

Almighty God, we know that you see every single sin we commit, even the ones we commit in the dark. That fact makes your love all that more amazing. You don’t get sick of us. But you forgive us again and again and again. When we were baptized, you took Christ’s righteousness—all his beauty and perfection—and you wrapped it around us like beautiful clothing. Because of Jesus, we look good to you, even though we still sometimes sin. Help us to live in a way that shows how thankful we are for your love. Amen.