In the quiet night sounds of the little town of Bethlehem, among softly rustling sheep and the gentle munching of hay, the God of all Creation laid aside His reputation.
In the prickly straw of a manger, He lay down His praise.
Within rough-hewn, homespun strips of cloth He wrapped his glory.
In the arms of a young, obedient girl and a brave and gentle man He yielded his power and was held.
Such humility is unknown to us in common life.
But in the midst of ordinary life is exactly where this humility broke into our mundane routines and showed us true Greatness comes when we lay aside our reputations to become like the King of Christmas.
One’s reputation is perhaps the hardest thing to lay upon the altar. When falsely accused, misunderstood, misrepresented, we strive to defend ourselves, to be understood, to justify our own righteousness. We angrily tout our good deeds, our good standing, the many reasons we should be admired and respected.
Our rights are our rights and how dare anyone challenge them. This is the world we live in today.
However, as I quietly meditate on the Savior this Christmas, I am struck by how willingly, how utterly, how completely, he laid aside His reputation, that ours might be made clean and upright. He deferred His rights that we might be rescued.
Have you ever remained silent, deferring your rights for the benefit of another? It is extremely difficult. Something in us rises up and demands justice. We are smitten with righteous indignation and self-preservation in such moments. It is rare for a man to lay aside what is rightfully due him that another may be rescued, protected, or praised.
Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Is it possible to be completely humble? Jesus was. And if He says to be completely humble, it must be possible. Jesus is calling us to follow Him to the Place of No Reputation. The place where we are not driven by what others think of us or where we stand socially. The place where we are completely fixed upon His will for our lives, His reputation in us, His righteousness in place of ours. This is a place of obedience, and this is a liberating place to dwell.
Jesus showed us the way to complete humility on Christmas in that splintery, coarse manger.
Before you lay the baby Jesus in his manger in your nativity this Christmas, pause a moment and hold it in your hands. Take time to reflect on the very reputation of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords laid aside in mere hay. Precious, eternal, lasting treasure held by rubbish.
Let us all say a quiet prayer that we may follow His example and lay aside our reputations this Christmas to follow the humble Christ. We are moving ever swiftly into an era where we need to be courageous to follow Christ, no matter what our reputations might suffer in the eyes of others.
Merry Christmas to you, dear readers!