Christmas Tests and Temptations
For many, Christmas is a time of rejoicing with family and loved ones. Holiday traditions, like decorating the family Christmas tree, occur but once a year. There is cookie baking, fudge making, and many other seasonal temptations that make children smile but cause some adults to fret over increased pant size. Christmas is certainly a time for good cheer as it marks the birth of Jesus Christ. But if we think back to the time of our Lord’s birth, we can all acknowledge the incredible trial that was set before the Virgin Mary.
Not only did the angel tell Mary she would conceive a child supernaturally, but he told her that the child was the Son of God and the future Savior of the world. Betrothed to Joseph, her virtue was at stake. What would he think? What would he do when she told him about her pregnancy?
“Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’” Luke 1:30-33 (NKJV)
But God chose wisely when He selected Mary as the mother of Christ. Her reply to the angel is an example of how we ought to respond to unexpected circumstances and trials. Her faith and confidence in God’s power enabled her to face the adversity she would soon encounter.
“Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38 (NKJV)
The word “maidservant” in this verse means ‘handmaid’ or ‘bondmaid.’ This is the female version of a bondservant. Mary humbly submits saying she is in a permanent position of servitude, a voluntary slave to God’s will.
(In Roman times, the term bondservant or slave could refer to someone who voluntarily served others. But it usually referred to one who was held in a permanent position of servitude. Under Roman law, a bondservant was considered the owner’s personal property. https://www.gotquestions.org/bondservant.html)
Was Mary tempted to deceive Joseph and lie about her pregnancy (Eph 4:14)? Was Mary fearful of her circumstances (Ps 112:11)? Is it possible that Mary felt anger and bitterness (Eph. 4:31)? Did she complain about her hardship (Numbers 11:1)?
Temptations, in and of themselves, are not sins. We know this because (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus was tempted, but did not sin. A temptation, which never originates from God, is an enticement for us to disobey God’s Word and gratify our fleshly desires.
We often think our trials are too big for us, forgetting to put God in our life equation. God is able to handle anything we go through. He doesn’t set us up to fail. He knows exactly what we can handle and what it will take to transform us into the image of His son, Jesus.
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 (NKJV)
Although Mary was highly favored and blessed among women, God still tested her faith. Fear may have been a temptation but she did not act on it. Rather, she faced it. Mary did not let the fear of man interfere with the will of God in her life.
“And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’” Luke1:28 (NKJV)
The Christmas story has many examples of tests and temptations. Consider Joseph and the three wise men. When situations seem beyond our bearing, God will speak through dreams, others, and His living Word to build up our faith and confirm His will.
During this Christmas season, praise God for your many blessings. Thank Him for Mary and her servant’s heart. Thank Him for the testings and trials in your own life, knowing that He sends them out of love.
“God does not further our spiritual life in spite of our circumstances, but in and by our circumstances.” ~ Oswald Chambers
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)