While growing up in Westmont, New Jersey, USA, I was like every child anxiously waiting for Christmas to arrive. Part of every celebration was to have a decorated tree. I remember repeatedly asking my dad when we were getting our tree. The answer was always the same: Soon.
After much anticipation, my dad went out on Christmas Eve and purchased the tree. It had its imperfections: one side had branches that were missing or deformed. After turning the deformed side toward the wall, the family decorated the tree with beautiful lights, balls, and tinsel. It was the perfect tree! I ventured a question: "Dad, why did you wait until Christmas Eve to get the tree?" He replied, "I was waiting for the price to go down; I got it for $2.00." I thought that my father was a smart man, and from that time on, a family tradition had begun.
While I miss those special times with my family, memories of our Christmas tree led me to contemplate something much better. Evergreen trees are chosen because they symbolize the eternal nature of Jesus. I was reminded of the eternal nature of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden and in the world to come:
Genesis 2:9 – The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (NIV)
Revelation 22:2b – On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (NIV)
Moreover, several verses in the book of Proverbs outline effective outcomes for those of us who embrace the tree of life in the here and now:
- Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed (3:18 NIV)
- The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. (11:30)
- Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (13:12)
- The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. (15:4)
Therefore, what changes can we make that will show others the results of following the principles of the tree of life in our lives? In that way, we can present ourselves to others at home, work, or play, that they may also desire to experience the real joy of Christmas, not only during the holidays, but also every day of their lives.
Prayer: Dear Lord, at this holy season, we pray that Your Spirit will empower us to display Your glory to others with the fruits of love, joy, and peace during this Christmas season. Thank You for coming to earth as a divine-human being, demonstrating Your love and concern for us by dying on the cross. In the holy name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.