Trimming The Christmas Tree – The 12 Days Of Christmas
Stephanie continues her series entitled “The 12 Days of Christmas.” In this post she points out that we all need refining by the Lord, in the same way that we trim the Christmas tree. Read part 1.
Trimming the Christmas Tree
As I mentioned last time, from now until December 25, I will be sharing memories of Christmases past. We will be considering how these memories point to the real meaning of the season and how we can point our children to the Greatest Gift of All Time, the Lord Jesus.
Today I’d like to talk about Christmas trees. When I was a little girl, my dad would go to a friend’s tree lot and cut down a Scotch pine. It was almost always too tall to fit in the house and so full that he had trouble pulling it through the front door. He would often have to drag it back outside to trim off several of the bottom branches.
The fresh tree smelled amazing. I still love the smell of pine. They do say the sense of smell is most closely linked to memory. Maybe that’s true.
While I could use this memory to discuss the passage in John 15 that speaks about the importance of being fruitful branches of the One True Vine, I would like to look, instead, at Proverbs 17:3, which says, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts” and Proverbs 27:21, which says, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.”
I’m not a goldsmith, but I understand the process for purifying gold is quite involved. The impurities must be removed in order to make it useful and beautiful. And how do they go about this? They heat the gold—repeatedly. When it is heated, the impurities rise to the top. The skilled goldsmith carefully skims off the waste, and then the gold is placed back in the furnace, where it is heated yet again.
Does this remind you of life? You go through a hard time in which unChristlike behaviours rise to the surface. You submit yourself to God’s skilled hands and ask Him to remove these impurities. Thinking you’ve learned the lessons He is teaching, you head back to your routine only to be confronted by another time of heating and purification—often before you feel ready to go through the process again.
Though these times are difficult, we can rest assured that God is kind and loving. He takes us through this process for His glory and our good. He doesn’t do so in order to pour out His wrath on us. Remember that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin when He died on the cross. The refining process is to make us more Christlike.
I heard that the goldsmith knows when the gold is ready when he can see his reflection in its surface. Isn’t that a beautiful picture? Don’t we want the Lord to see His reflection in us? Don’t we want others to see His reflection in us as well?
The Lord Refines Us
My dad had to remove the parts of the tree that hindered it from serving its purpose. When the Lord refines us, He is removing that which does not serve His purposes for us. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
I have often prayed that I would accomplish the good works God had prepared for that specific day. There are so many things that can hinder the fulfillment of these good works: unconfessed sin, willful rebellion, unnecessary busyness, refusal to set aside time to seek the Lord and His will, neglecting the study of God’s Word, etc.
These excess branches, these impurities, must be removed. How can we teach our children these ideas without frightening them or confusing them about the nature of God?
Submit To God
Of course the best way is to willingly submit ourselves to God’s authority and His sovereignty. We will be more likely to do so if we take the time to discover what the Scriptures teach us about His character.
Studying what the Bible reveals about God and His character as a family will build your faith and confidence.
Look to His creation as well. Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”
Teach your children the importance of going to God in prayer when things are difficult. Ask Him to reveal the lessons He wants to teach you. Ask Him to continue to remove the excess and impurities from your life. It is important to stress that the Lord Jesus took the punishment for our sins. If they have asked Him to be their Saviour, your children can be confident that the promise in Romans 8:1 is true: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Share with your sons and daughters how you have drawn closer to the Lord during times of difficulty.
Commit to memory scripture passages that speak of God’s love. These are especially important to meditate on when life is difficult.
And just think, as God does His work in us, we will shine more brightly than the most beautiful Christmas tree, even more brightly than pure gold.
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio.
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Images courtesy of:
Christmas tree – aryll
Gold Reflection – grindean horea
Christmas tree lights –Linda DuBose