Tis' that time of year when families around the country are in the festive mood of decorating and getting into the Christmas traditions. One of the newest and hottest things that has sprung up in the last few years is something called "The Elf on the Shelf". For those of you out there who participate in this, you know what I mean, for you others, I'll explain. You can purchase this elf at pretty much any store nowadays. He is about a foot long, and stuffed so that he is very flexible, but won't stand on his own. Here he is:
I have to admit that when my wife and I first started participating in "putting him up" for Christmas, I just thought that it was a fun idea to play around with the kids. The point of having him though is this: he has come into your home, all the way from the North Pole, to observe you throughout each day, and each night he magically returns back to the North Pole to report back to Santa your behavior. (Disclaimer: I want to at this point say that I understand that there are a lot of people out there who don't agree with the elf on the shelf, both in Christendom and not, but there is a point that I want to make here contrary to whether you agree in participating or not). It is a spiritual and eternal point. It is a point of hope and victory. I think about the verse in 1 Corinthians 10, it's verse 31 where it says: whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. We tell our kiddos that none of the stuff that happens around Christmas time would be possible without Jesus. He is first and foremost, period. So, we are making sure that in all of this Jesus is glorified, and so I want to continue on with my spiritual point which relates to this elf phenomena: we are always being watched. God is always with us, and always has His eye on us. If you are a Christian, then you know this to be true from your time spent in the word, Joshua 1:9 would be one place to look, and there are many others. But my point is this, God is watching and our behavior counts to Him more than it matters to anyone else. But the awesome thing in this, and the major difference between the message of the elf and Jesus is this: Because God cares He sent His Spirit to help us with our behavior (see John 14, 15 and 16 for reference). Here's another thing to remember: we are always being watched by others. Now, I'm not saying that stalking is going on all over the place, but when we are out and about people are seeing us. They are seeing how we act and talk and respond to whatever circumstance we happen to be in at the time. This is just truth. So much so that commercials have been made off of this notion, the "Pass it on" commercials. You know, the one where someone sees another person doing a random act of kindness and it triggers their desire to do good and pay it forward to someone else. We as human beings have been given quite a gift, and it's one that we will celebrate this Christmas season, the gift of a Savior, of Emmanuel (God with us)…Jesus. And because we are so loved by Him, He lived only to die to remove the sin of those who will believe in Him (John 3:16) and give us the power to live above sin (John 14, 15, and 16 again). God isn't a god who created everything and is just keeping His hands off. Oh no. Our God is One Who is very active in our lives and very watchful over us. It is a point of hope and victory in our lives because when we will submit ourselves, our will, to Him, when we realize that He is always watching because He loves us and wants the best for us, then we are able to go about each day in hope and live out victory through Jesus Christ.
So, if the elf is one of your new traditions, I hope that you can look at it from a different perspective moving forward. Yes, have fun with it, but also use it as a reminder that you have a loving God watching over you more than anything else. Enjoy the many blessings of this Christmas season!