Don’t Starve Yourself This Christmas

Christmas is a time for meal planning. Some of you finalized your menus weeks ago; others are just now making the shopping list. But as we give so much effort to the feasting that marks the birth of Jesus, it is easy to forget his words: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).

Making time for God’s Word is hard during the holidays, but it is vital. If you neglect your Bible this Christmas, you will be putting your soul on a restricted diet. Rather than starving your spiritual life, I hope you will spend some time planning ways to feast on God’s Word.

More Nourishment, Not Less

Christmas brings unique temptations. Rather than coast through the last week of December, we should ready ourselves in anticipation of spiritual battles.

Christmastime means family time for many people, and family time brings opportunities for strife, hurt feelings, and insecurity. The people we love most have the power to hurt us in ways others can’t. A sibling may intentionally bring up old wounds. You may never be able to measure up to a parent’s expectations. Daily time in Scripture will undermine the lies we may be tempted to believe and will bring our idols into focus. It will keep God’s promises as our emotional anchors, whether or not the people around us are pleased with us.

Christmas gift-giving brings the temptation to love the things of the world. You may feel discontent because you can’t buy your kids everything they ask for, or because your sister-in-law got a brand-new car. Or it may be that as you Christmas-shop for others, you start wanting for yourself all the lovely things you see in the stores. We need God’s Word to remind us to be on guard “against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Christmas can also bring great loneliness. You may be lonely because you’re single. You may be grieving the loss of a spouse or child. Even if you’re surrounded by people, you may be lonely because none of them seems to notice you. God’s Word reminds us that this world is not our home (Phil. 3:20). There will come a day when our feasting won’t be marred by grief or loneliness, since our tears will be wiped away by God himself (Rev. 21:4).

These are just a few of the temptations that may come upon us at Christmas. We need the sword of the Spirit (which, according to Ephesians 6, is the Word of God) and the shield of faith to fight whatever attacks Satan may aim at us.

Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail

If you don’t make plans for spending time in God’s Word, you won’t have time for it. Your plans should incorporate the fact that your holiday routine—if you have a routine at all—is quite different from your regular routine. Don’t let the fact that you can’t spend an hour in Bible study keep you from whatever time you can carve out.

Maybe you look forward to sleeping in over the holidays. If so, you could still set an alarm, but set it for 8:30 a.m. instead of 6:30 a.m. Figure out what time your family demands will kick in and make sure to get up before that time. If you have children, strategize with your spouse or another family member about how to tag-team family responsibilities so you can each have some time alone.

Maybe you will be staying in a crowded house or hotel room and can’t find a place to get alone. Try to think creatively. Is there a walk-in closet where you could steal some time by yourself? Could you go in the bathroom and shut the door for 10 minutes? Perhaps you could take a walk by yourself and pray and meditate on Scripture along the way.

These suggestions may not be practical for you, but if they aren’t, try to come up with your own way of life-hacking time with God. Just as a holiday meal won’t come about without planning (try finding a grocery store open on Christmas), you need to think ahead about your spiritual diet before your routine gets upended.

Feast Day by Day

Many of us will enjoy hearing the Christmas story read aloud on Christmas Eve. This scriptural experience may be the pièce de résistance for your faith during the holidays. But just as you wouldn’t starve yourself for days leading up to Christmas dinner, don’t neglect to daily feed on God’s Word either.

When you sing “Let every heart prepare him room,” resolve not to let the wonderful fullness of the Christmas season crowd out the spiritual nourishment you need. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us; God’s written Word is also living and active.

Let it do its work in your life and heart this Christmas.

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