“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
There’s an ongoing spiritual battle for our souls—old as the Bible, new as this week’s sales flyers and displays at big-chain megastores. You could almost call it, “Halloween vs. Christmas.”
I walked through a home goods store in September and was struck by the contrast in merchandise presentations. On one side of the aisle, ghoulish life-size (and larger-than-life-size) characters groaned, shrieked, and cackled. They lunged with devilish hands, clawing at shoppers passing by. The images weren’t your “Casper-the-Friendly-Ghost” variety…they were realistic and grisly, the kind that haunt your dreams.
In contrast across from the display was a stand of Christmas trees. They posed in silent ranks like faithful soldiers, their lights blinking on and off.
It was a sobering sight…a good indication of our nation’s compromising culture of materialism.
October 31 has become a major source of income for those who manufacture costumes, candy, plastic jack-o-lanterns, and massive home decorations. Americans spend more than $12 billion on Halloween stuff.1
I thought of the debate in the Christian community over Halloween. Personally, all of the horrible costumes and decorations are very disturbing to me. I haven’t watched a horror movie in more than four decades…because so many of those macabre images from long ago are still seared in my memory. I don’t want to add more ickiness to my brain.
After today, Halloween will go away and Christmas mania will reign. I do love Christmas as a celebration of Christ’s birth, and our family enjoys putting up a tree with lots of ornaments. But Christmas easily becomes overblown, with its real message drowned in secular songs and tinsel. Thanksgiving? Its significance is almost completely buried now in our society, replaced by sports and out-of-control shopping.
The whole scenario has given me pause to think about where my heart has been lately. What have I been celebrating in the past few months? Where has my focus been? On what things has my mind been dwelling?
I have choices every day, regardless of the season, about what to celebrate and how. The real key, however, is deciding whom I will celebrate.
In the book of Mark, a scribe approached Jesus to ask Him what He believed to be the “first commandment.” Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy as He answered: “…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
God is to be first and foremost in my heart and mind. Loving Him above everything else takes effort, resources, and a focused mindset—much like any celebration I wish to have.
Unfortunately, I’ve been dwelling on a lot of temporal things, seasonal issues, and short-term dilemmas. I’ve been putting out the fires I’ve set, burying myself in expectations, and trying to move ahead on my own steam—ignoring the Holy Spirit’s nudges. The result has been a Halloween “horror story” of its own in my heart. I (to paraphrase the apostle Paul) exclaim, “O wretched woman that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)
Thanks be to God, though, that I am saved through Jesus Christ my Lord! His mercies are new every morning. Those are truths worth celebrating. I need to celebrate His love and His grace every single day.
What are you celebrating this week? Is it an accomplishment at work? Dressing up in costume for a party? Arriving at another milestone birthday?
Or will you commemorate your relationship with the King of the all creation? Will you honor Him in your daily work and home life? Will you feast at His table? Will You meditate on His purity, nobility, justice, strength? Will you “decorate” your heart with the fruits of His Spirit?
Like me, you will fail and fall. You will forget His blessings in the crises or earthly joys of the moment. But our God is compassionate, and His love for us never fails…even when we celebrate things other than Him.
When seasonal holiday images crowd our minds, let’s turn our hearts toward His. Let’s meditate on what is praiseworthy about Him. Let’s celebrate Him.
Jesus, I’m so sorry to confess that I’ve celebrated earthly things over Your heavenly beauty, focused on the things of earth instead of Your abundant life, and traded Your happiness for despair—by not keeping my eyes on You. I ask for Your forgiveness, and I rest in the promise that You will answer that request. Please help me to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength—celebrating Your love every day. In Your name, Amen.
Looking for a free downloadable tract to hand out to trick-or-treaters and others about the good news in Christ? Here’s one shared by a writer friend, Rachael Colby!
© Copyright 2023 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. #celebrateJesus #halloweendecorations #Christmasdecorations #tractfortrickortreat #tattooitonyourheart #rachaelmcolby
Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about The Privileged Life: Celebrate What’s Most Important.