“If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.”
(Luke 17:33, NLT)
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2:5-8, ESV)
Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith ... for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2, ESV)
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
(John 15:11, ESV)
Today’s Reading: Luke 17
It was December, and I was officially angry. My young children were 8,000 miles away from their grandparents, we’d just gotten kicked out of our home city in East Asia, and we were living out of suitcases in a stranger’s bare-bones apartment.
“I just want my Christmas tree!” I moaned in my heart those first December days. It stood decorated in our old apartment, sparkling for no one. Meanwhile, we were camped in this barren apartment wishing for our twinkling lights, Christmas tree candles and speakers piping our Christmas playlist throughout the season.
I knew that Christmas is much more than lights, frosted pine smells and jingling bells, and yet I wanted them desperately. I was clawing for my culture’s external trappings of the season. Blocked from them by circumstances outside of my control, I was miserable.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus repeated some version of the idea that clinging to your life leads to losing it but that losing your life actually saves it. It’s counterintuitive, but the more you grip your life and fight for control, the closer you are to losing what matters most. When you relax into the Spirit’s will for your life, you are free to live — and enjoy — the abundant life Jesus means you to have. It’s the good life according to God.
I was so busy being angry about my Christmas tree, I was missing the real joy of Christmas. Christmas, when Jesus left His glorious heavenly home to be born in a very temporary housing situation — a manger. Christmas, when He chose not to grasp His equality with God but instead became fully human, showing us the meaning of an abundant life. Though the thrust of His humble life was to serve and to suffer, the Bible says Jesus came for His joy and for ours.
I was forced, that Christmas, to lose the smells and bells. Yet when I brought my anger to Him, I gained intimacy with the Jesus who was born in a manger and lived a distinctly unflashy life. Who knew what it was to give up much, only to gain much more? Jesus, who lived the good life, full of suffering and joy.
When I brought my slice of suffering to Jesus, He shared a heaping measure of His joy with me.
How do you respond when you feel angry? Explore more about giving our anger to God.
Laura Way is a writer for FamilyLife®. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband and two vibrant school-aged daughters. She loves coffee, good conversation, learning how to be more fully human in Jesus and helping others do the same.
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