“Mine! Mine! Mine!” I do not believe that was the lesson our two year old, Reijah was supposed to learn, but certainly is the one that stuck.
It was Christmas morning and there next to her stocking, all hung with care was her favorite character from Sesame Street, Elmo. That lovable, fuzzy little red monster who taught her in those early years how to count, how to spell and how to read.
She loved her little Elmo. She’d tickle his tummy and he would laugh and dance. She’d squeeze his nose and he’d carry on conversations and even sing. I can still hear that song in my head, “La, la, la. La, la, la, Elmo’s world!” I must have heard it a hundred times each day.
Along with Elmo came a DVD with several short episodes. One of those episodes, which turned out to be her favorite, was designed to teach sharing. It was called Mine-I-tis
In this short, Elmo had contracted a dreadful disease called Mine-I-tis. Once you had it, you’d grab anything and everything and claim it to be your own.
“Mine! Mine! Mine!” “That’s my ball! my hat! my toy!” “Mine! Mine! Mine!” “My bat! My cookie! My doll!”
Worse this disease was contagious. Soon it spread all down the street. It wasn’t long before everyone was running around, taking others things all while shouting, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”
Guess what became Reijah’s favorite word?
Truthfully, she really didn’t need help from Elmo. She had just started talking and was already well versed in the use of the word. How ironic that a show written to teach sharing, only reinforced that part of our nature that comes as natural to us as breathing.
It’s true. Babies come from the womb, fists clenched, looking to take hold of something. One of the first words we learn after, “Mom-ma,” or “Da-Da” is “Mine.”
AW Tozer wrote, “There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets “things” with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns “my” and “mine” look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.”
It’s tragic that a holiday that is a celebration of giving, has become a season of getting more things.
Before Dec 25 we ask, “What do you want for Christmas?” Afterwards its, “What did you get for Christmas, what did you get yourself?” “Did you get everything you wanted?”
When did Christmas ever become about getting THINGS? Oh how we love our THINGS!
A December to remember is not a band new Lexus with a big red bow! In fact, there is nothing you can put under a tree that will ever bring lasting satisfaction.
When God created Man and Woman, He placed them in a world filled with all kinds of wonderful things. He showered them with gifts and for a time, Man and Woman lived WITH things, but not FOR things.
It was with God and God alone in whom they were perfectly content. It was God alone who sat upon the throne of their hearts and it was God alone that they worshiped.
Then sin entered the picture. It was one single act of selfishness that pushed God from the throne of man’s heart and as a consequence he began to reach for anything and everything that would satisfy this thing called self. Things became the pursuit. They no longer lived with things, they now lived for things. “More! More! More! Mine! Mine! Mine!”
All the chaos, all the turmoil in the world today can be traced back to one common root sin called SELFISHNESS.
It was SELFISHNESS that removed Satan from heaven. It was SELFISHNESS that removed Adam from the garden. And it is SELFISHNESS that keeps us away from God. It’s a disease called MINE-I-TIS!
Take a good look at all the chaos and turmoil in your own life, trace it back to the root and surely you’ll see that same thing called selfishness (whether your own, or some one else).
Reijah learned this from Elmo, and more importantly, we learn from the Gospel, that there is only one cure for the dreaded disease of mine-i-tis. There is only one cure for selfishness.
It’s called SELF-LESS-NESS.
And that my friend is the story of Christmas. Christmas began with a single, incredible act of self-less-ness performed by our Heavenly Father. That first Christmas the most amazingly selfless gift was offered to selfish men.
It didn’t come wrapped in pretty paper and placed beneath a pretty tree. It was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a dirty manger. There Emmanuel, God With Us, God in the flesh, came into the world as a selfless gift from the Father above.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that HE GAVE, His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The world was perishing from selfishness as the pride of man had thrown the world into deep darkness. All hope was lost. Then on that night a great light came into the world. Hope was born in the form of an infant now held in the hands of His mother.
It was a sacrificial gift given by God Himself to mankind with the sole purposes to rescue us from SELF. All we had to do was do what you do with any gift – receive it.
Sadly the gift wasn’t received. As scripture also says, “He came to that which was his own, yet his own received him not.” The gift of God was rejected, despised, and persecuted. However in the face of rejection, He still selflessly gave Himself for us.
Yes, the only cure for selfishness is selflessness. It was a self-less gift that offered salvation to a world perishing in selfishness.
I’m thankful that I found that gift, 22 years ago. I’m thankful that for 22 years, Christmas has meant more to me than what is under a tree. It is about the Man, the God, who hung Himself upon a tree for me!
There is not a gift you can give this Christmas that will bring true everlasting joy. In fact most of the joy those gifts bring will fade long before the batteries wear out. Soon it becomes just another thing, in a life already cluttered with so anything things
Jesus offers something much greater. He offers, “Life in all its fullness” (John 10:10). That gift never tires out, never wears out, never rusts out. It never fails to satisfy!
Jesus demonstrated that the cure for selfishness was selflessness, giving not getting. Christ gave Himself, and as a result offered salvation to a world in need. 2000 years of human history have been shaped because of this self-less act. 22 years of my life have been shaped because of this selfless act!
Want to make this a December to remember?
Take Christ at his word, He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
It doesn’t make sense to the selfish man, but the selfless man knows the only way to save your-self is to lose your-self. The only way to take hold of any-thing, is to let go of every-thing.
Here is the truth of the matter. God never said you and I couldn’t have things, He made it clear that things could not have us. Whether it is your home, your car, your possessions, your career, your dreams, your future, or your family… all those things are not actually yours – They belong to Him. We simply, temporarily, steward them for Him.
That means the safest place for all that things in your life is in the hands of your savior, which by the way, is the only safe place for your-self as well.