Just as the wise men did, we can follow the star today. Discover the gift that awaits you.
Follow the Star
… .who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.
Today’s verses are part of Paul’s lead-up to Chapter Three (Romans), in which he describes every member of the human race as unrighteous, destructive, without understanding, vile, full of cursing and bitterness, with no desire to seek God or obey Him. In Chapter Two Paul is making the case that God isn’t unjust or unfair. He judges everyone by what he did with what God had revealed to him. Paul makes the point that no one has a legitimate excuse for claiming that he never knew about God.
Today’s verses show what was possible. God was ready to reward those who “by perseverance in doing good sought for honor and glory and immortality. The reality, however, was that no one did this, not even one. At the Great White Throne Judgment, the unsaved will be confronted with the vileness of their deeds, including their rejection of God’s solution to their sins-Jesus Christ, His life, death, and resurrection.
That’s the big picture. For today, let’s look at “doing good’ and its implication for us as we remember the Christmas story. I think we mistakenly associate “doing good” with good deeds like preparing a meal for a family who is going through a rough time. Clearly, doing good has nothing to do with salvation, but what does it mean? One commentator whom I greatly respect says it refers to the subjection and obedience to the light God has provided. To Abel it meant approaching God as a sinner by an acceptable sacrifice. For Noah it meant building an ark despite the years of labor and ridicule. For Abraham it was leaving his country and relatives and becoming a pilgrim. All of these show men responding well to the light (revelation) they had been given.
In the 4th chapters of Romans the judge proclaims that judgment is certain and that it will be “according to truth” and “according to deeds.” Men will be judged by what they did according to the light they had been given, not the light they never knew. Those who chose to obey unrighteousness instead of truth will incur God’s wrath, whether privileged Jew or ignorant Gentile. Light given will be the standard by which they are judged. No one can complain for righteousness and favor come from simply “following the light.” That light will guide him to salvation.
If, by the light of creation (nature), men realize their responsibility to their creator, God will make Himself responsible to give them further light to guide them deeper into salvation. The greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility. Those who claim to live by the Law shall be judged by their failure to keep it. Those without the Law are judged by the light they have received.
God cares equally for these who have been given much less. All men are judged against what they know or should know if they chose to respond to the truth given. Ignorance isn’t condemned unless it is the result of willful rejection of the light given. The problem is that men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.
So, what does all this have to do with Christmas? Well, it has everything to do with the light of a very special star two thousand years ago. When the wise men followed it to the Savior of the world, they served as perhaps the best possible example of responding to the light God provides to all of us. Our first responsibility is to recognize the light (revelation) God has given us. He speaks to us all the time through a variety of ways. He wants us to know what’s on His mind, what He is about to do, and how He intends to use us. Our second responsibility is to respond as God intends.
So, what is God saying to you this Christmas? Put another way, what is the star God wants you to follow? What light has He given you? What revelation has He given you about Himself? Surely, God has been speaking to you, but have you been listening?
Let’s look at it another way. What was the message of the star that pointed the way to a stable in Bethlehem? While the wise men were following the star, an angel spoke the message of the star to a group of shepherds who were simply doing their shepherd thing-watching over their sheep after they had settled in for the night.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere an angel of God appeared, most likely breath-taking in his size, grandeur and might. If that wasn’t enough, the glory of the Lord began to shine all around them. Understandably, they were terrified. Then came the part of the story we all know, but have failed to appreciate. After comforting the trembling shepherds, the angel announced, “Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people, for today in the city of David, there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
What happened to the great joy which was to be for everyone? Is Jesus Christ your great joy. Has He brought you joy that overpowers all of life’s trials? Has the magnitude of His grace toward you overshadowed the valleys in your life? I’m afraid that for most Christians, salvation is a concept that is partially understood, but it has had little effect on our reactions to the harsh realities of life.
This Christmas, how about allowing Jesus to become that great joy that was promised to everyone who would accept it? Follow His star today and discover the unquenchable joy that awaits you.
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