Manger

In Dr. Seuss’ Christmas classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” Mr. Grinch has an epiphany: “‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.’”

Mr. Grinch didn’t start with a bright reputation. We meet him, living in his cold cave at the top of Mount Crumpit with his dog, Max. He’s angry and ready to take revenge on the Whos who live in Whoville. And let’s be honest, he’s pretty sad under that tough exterior.

Poor Mr. Grinch. He can’t stop feeling sorry for himself. It’s all about him and how he feels.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to end up with a Grinch-like attitude, especially around the Christmas season. Maybe, like Mr. Grinch, you have experienced being shunned early on in life. Maybe someone was mean, unfair or cruel.

Perhaps it’s not really one thing. Maybe life seems to tick by while you hope and pray for a change in your crazy schedule. Maybe you are longing for the past or wishing for the future because the circumstances you are currently in just aren’t what you planned.

You feel alone. Sure, there are people all around, but you can’t help feeling like you’re the only one who feels the hurt. You wear it well—what you should have said; what you wish you hadn’t said; what could have been.

Fix your eyes on Jesus

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

As we approach Christmas, I encourage you to really take these verses to heart, specifically “fixing our eyes on Jesus.”

Between family gatherings with that one relative who really knows how to push your buttons or the guy at the mall who steals “your” parking spot, we’ve got to fix our eyes on Jesus.

We don’t want to be “Christmas-tree Christians.” In other words, we don’t want to be beautiful and glittering on the outside, but just a dead tree on the inside. This season is a wonderful time to shine brightly and let the Holy Spirit be revealed through us.

In his commentary on Hebrews 12, theologian Matthew Henry explains these verses and how the worries and pressures of life can negatively consume us:

“Inordinate care for the present life, or fondness for it, is a dead weight upon the soul, that pulls it down when it should ascend upwards, and pulls it back when it should press forward; it makes duty and difficulties harder and heavier than they would be.”

The struggle

You know the phrase, “The struggle is real.” I wouldn’t be surprised if it was really the apostle Paul who coined this.

His life was crazy tough, and yet, he writes some of the most profound advice in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Life is never going to be easy. We live in a broken world with broken people and broken circumstances. Our faith can’t be based on what we see, and especially not on how we feel in a moment.

But how do we practically fix our eyes on Jesus?

1. Remember who God is. He is Almighty. He spoke the world into being. He is all-knowing, all-present and eternal. There’s nothing too big for him. Rest in Him. Trust in Him. He never leaves you alone.

2. Remember who we are in Christ. We are forgiven. We are loved. We are made new. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are saved from an eternity in hell and for an eternal relationship with God.

3. Remember what God has promised. God knows you. He has good plans for you. They may not all come to fruition in our time on earth, but with God, we know that our hope is not in this world.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

4. Refuse to listen to the lies of the enemy. When you feel that Grinch-like attitude setting in, it is a sure sign you are focusing on yourself and not on Jesus. It’s not easy, but by staying in His Word and looking for ways to help others this holiday season, you will feel the light of His love for you, too.

Thankfully, Mr. Grinch didn’t stay in his cave.

One Christmas, something happened. He took his eyes off himself.

“And what happened then? Well in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!”

Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Amy Potter is a prayer warrior, wife, mother, teacher, creator, writer and a few other things—a Supermom. She has been a member of Southeast since 2010.