Monday, December 22, 2014

Minimize or Magnify?

Minimize or Magnify?
Posted by Sarah 

“And Mary said: ‘My Soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior...’”
                                        - Luke 1:46-47 (NKJV)

Since the time I was a little girl, I have loved the story of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Something about the green creature intrigued me (not to mention the oodles of crazy words that Dr. Seuss used and the fact that the story involved my favorite holiday – Christmas). As a child, the story was charming tale of Whos that lived in a whimsical land, as a teenager it was a beloved story, but as an adult, it’s a reminder of truth.

You see the Grinch felt that if he stole all the presents, annulled the festivities, and removed the yummy food (including the last can of who hash) he would inevitably capture the Whos joy as well. When the cheerful Welcome Christmas song of the Whos reached the Grinch’s green ears, he thought and thought until his “puzzler” was sore. Sore because with all his craftiness, he did not stop Christmas from coming

Today we don’t have a grinch who lives up on a mountain conjuring up sneaky schemes against us, but we do however have an enemy who is just as real as the green villain was to the Whos. He is our adversary known as Satan (or the Devil) who plans and schemes to ruin your Christmas. John 10:10 calls him a “thief” with an agenda to steal, kill, and destroy and like the Grinch, he would love more than ever to steal any bit of Christmas he can away from you.

While Satan uses various tactics to steal our Christmas, most of them boil down to three categories: distraction, difficult circumstances, and blindness to the truth. If we will let him, he will use those tactics to make us anxious, depressed, condemned, overworked, confused, absent from the truth, and hopeless. That is, if we are unaware of his tactics.

Yet, not all of life’s difficulties are not brought on by the enemy of our souls. Some are bought on by the fallen world we live in, by our own sinful nature, the sinful nature of others, and some are allowed by a God who loves us. Why? So he can use those difficulties to change us for the better and teach us to trust Him in the good plan He has that gives us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). But like the Whos, we too have a choice when faced with difficulty: choose to be a victim? Or choose to rejoice?

How do we do make the right choice? Our answer is found not found in Whoville, but in the true story of a small town teenager who choose to rejoice when faced with opposition. Her name was Mary. The 15-16 year-old who lived in poverty and challenging times under Roman tyranny received word from the angel Gabriel that she would be a Mom – the Mom of Jesus Christ the Lord. Although she didn’t quite understanding it all and probably felt inadequate, Mary embraced the opportunity even if that brought on accusations that she had her son out of wedlock. It was a label she had to live with but a label that faded in light of the blessing Mary saw when she gained perspective.

Mary was so excited at the news that she ran over to her cousin Elizabeth and shared it. This followed with a song. No, it was not Welcome Christmas that was sung by the Whos, but a song from her heart better known as the Magnificat. In her song, Mary stated, “My Soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior...” According to the John Courson Application Commentary of the New Testament, the soul refers to one’s mind and emotions. Courson states, “The spirit speaks of one’s essence – that which will live forever. The soul relates primarily to people; the spirit relates to God.” This means, Mary chose to rejoice in her Spirit (the deepest part of her that was directed to God) which then projected outwardly. Her decision to sing in the midst of difficultly made all the difference in her life. When Mary chose to magnify (make God big) Mary saw her problems as small. Her difficulties were eclipsed when Mary saw the big picture – Jesus coming into the world as Savior!

When we choose to magnify Jesus, our natural response (like Mary) is to rejoice. We can sing because as Mary stated “For He who is mighty has done great things for me…” (Luke 1: 49). Although our difficulties are hard and painful, we can still have a song to sing if we know (as Mary did) that the Savior has come.

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