After traveling to Bethlehem a few months ago to see where the first Christmas happened, I was struck by the fact that it's still a simple place -- just as it was when Jesus came to Earth there as a baby long ago. Modest homes, basic businesses (such as restaurants) and places of worship dot the hilly landscape. But there are no massive shopping malls or other signs of materialism gone wild, like there are in my home country (the United States).
Now, as in Bible times, the people who live in Bethlehem lead lifestyles marked by simplicity. They focus much more attention on pursuing spiritual wealth than they do on acquiring material wealth.
The heavy commercial emphasis on shopping during the Christmas season too often obscures the fact that the greatest gift -- the one we're celebrating -- was a free gift from God to us that was meant to enrich us spiritually (which has eternal value), not materially (which has only temporary value). When the angels announced that Jesus Christ had left heaven for Earth to become the world's Savior, they made their announcement not to materially wealthy people, but to spiritually wealthy ones (poor shepherds who were honestly seeking God).
Let's focus on what the angels did on the first Christmas: spiritual wealth. No matter how many presents we can afford to buy, we'll never be disappointed at Christmas if we set our minds on what can enrich us the most.
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