“Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory
and stretch themselves out on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock
and calves from the midst of the stall,
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp
and like David invent for themselves instruments of music,
who drink wine in bowls
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile,
and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.” Amos 6:4-7 ESV
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:4-8 ESV
World War II was a very difficult time for people all over the world. Many men fought in battles and died or were injured. Bombs fell in Europe, which caused death and suffering. The American people did everything they could to support the war effort, even though they often didn’t suffer as much as people in Europe and other places. When Christmas came, many people were worried about loved ones who were overseas fighting. They still celebrated Christmas, but it was a smaller celebration. Many people couldn’t get real Christmas trees because there weren’t many young men left in the country to cut trees down, so some people had artificial trees. They used paper, string, pine cones, and nuts to make tree decorations, because aluminum and tin were being used in the war effort. Gas was rationed, so people weren’t always able to visit family and friends who lived far away. Christmas was a time of hope, but most people kept in mind the suffering of their country and world.
At the time of Amos, disaster hadn’t yet come to their country. God warned them through prophets like Amos that his judgment was coming, but the people didn’t care at all. They kept celebrating and enjoying the best food and happy music and beautiful homes, and felt that they were secure and would always be happy. They weren’t at all concerned about the troubles that were going to come to their country, and this didn’t please God. He wanted them to see the ways they were turning against him and to change. He wanted them to be concerned about their country and not just live for themselves and their own interests.
It’s easy to be happy when life is comfortable and safe. When God blesses us with good things, we can enjoy them and be thankful, but he calls us to look beyond our good gifts to the needs and problems of other people. God’s blessings aren’t always a sign that everything is right and good, because sometimes we take the good things God gives us and love them more than we love God. He is always calling us to be ready to turn away from the sin in our lives, and also to look beyond our own interests and care about the needs of others . Jesus didn’t only care about himself. He put aside everything he enjoyed as God’s equal, and was born as a human person like us on the first Christmas. He went all the way to the cross, suffering and dying for our sins. Because of Jesus, we have God’s best blessings of all. God forgives our sins and makes us his people now and forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the blessings you give us, and help us to care about the ways we turn away from you and for the needs of others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.