In two weeks we’ll have what we’ve been looking forward to for a long, long while: a new year. If ever there was a year that demanded a do-over, 2020 is at the top of the list. I understand. It’s been a lot.
Though tempting, let’s not be so quick to put the year behind us. Between now and then, we have fourteen days to make the most of. That’s 336 hours or 20,160 minutes, and I don’t want to squander a single one of them. We can finish the year strong. And with Christmas just over a week away, our hearts and minds are already tendered toward what can make this possible, or rather, who can make this possible — Jesus.
Yet, isn’t it right about now when you can feel the panic of last-minute shopping, desperate to find the perfect gift for those remaining on your list? Maybe you’re already at the point where any gift will do. Shipping for online orders is at a premium. Department stores know this. It’s why they have entire spaces devoted to novelty gifts and gadgets you never knew existed (and no one actually needs).
Honestly, I struggle with the gift-giving part of Christmas. Not with gift-giving, per se, but with the commercialism and excess that often comes with it. While I absolutely delight in finding the perfect presents for the people I love, it’s easy to lose sight of Christ amidst the chaos. If only the tangle of tree lights was the lone Christmas trapping.
As I was praying about all of these things — ending this tumultuous year on a positive note and finding beautiful and meaningful ways to celebrate Christmas with my loved ones — the image of fruitcake came to mind.
Ummm, what in the world?
Fruitcake is a mystery to me. I’ve never understood its appeal. If I’m going to blow calories on cake, it’d better daggum well include chocolate or buttercream icing, not all manner of dried fruit and allspice.
But as much as I don’t like fruitcake, I knew it came to mind for a reason. I was sure God was leading my thoughts, and I just needed to follow.
Though fruitcake might not be mentioned in the Bible, fruit definitely is —
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
On the surface, this passage has nothing to do with Christmas, and yet, doesn’t it have everything to do with Christ? His incarnation ushered in the gospel, the good news a broken people were desperate to hear — good news we are desperate to hear.
It is in Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection that we find our hope.
God sent His one and only Son to accomplish what man failed to do — to live a holy, righteous, and perfect life without sin. Then, Jesus died the death we deserve because of our sin, enduring God’s wrath upon the cross and in so doing, assuring that we would be remembered, forgiven, and redeemed. He conquered sin and Satan and even death when He was raised three days later.
And when we put our faith and trust in Christ, He gives us all He has — He gives us Himself.
As daughters of God, we carry the good news of the gospel in us, and we have the privilege to impact the people around us by sharing it. As we approach the end of the year and look forward to the new one, what if our lives were characterized more by the fruit of the Spirit? A world with more love, more joy, more peace, more patience, more kindness, more goodness, more faithfulness, more gentleness, and more self-control would be a more beautiful world, indeed.
As the image of fruitcake lingers in my mind, I’m reminded that living the gospel is the way to make the most of the last fourteen days of this year, and just as lovely, the best way to begin 2021.
Thankfully, ending the year strong doesn’t depend on anything we can do but on what Jesus has already done. What a reason to celebrate!
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