“For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.”
Jeremiah 10:3-4 (KJV)
How are you today? I hope you are well. My topic for today’s Faith Blog by DUO Inspirations may not be a popular one. However, I think we are all called to evaluate ourselves, our actions, as well as the traditions we follow. I was researching verses for today’s post and I came across Jeremiah 10:3-4. It kind of surprised me. I have read the Holy Bible quite a few times and I hadn’t remembered this passage. Could it be that I didn’t remember it, because I didn’t want to remember it or maybe because I wasn’t ready to evaluate myself next to the words in this passage? I don’t know.
The words in Jeremiah 10:3-4, sound much like what we do in decorating Christmas trees. So, do we need to look at this tradition and evaluate whether or not we are really called to do it? Regardless of what we decide in the end, I do think it is a good idea to weigh what we do against God’s Word. Are we following and living in accordance to God’s Word?
The phrase that hits home for me in this whole passage is “For the customs of the people are vain.” Regardless, of whether we believe we are supposed to set up a Christmas tree as part of our celebration or not, I think if we are honest with ourselves, we will realize that it is a vain tradition.
I mean, chopping down a tree purchasing one, whether fake or real, costs quite a bit of money. There is also the extra expense of decorating it, not to mention the extra high electric bill in having the lights on the tree. Do we really need to spend that money? Do all those (real) trees really need to die, just so we can enjoy them lit up and decorated for a month or so? The answer to both questions is probably, “no.” We probably do not need to spend that extra money and live trees probably do not need to die for such a tradition.
So, why do we put up a tree? It is tradition! And, this is what I pray we can all evaluate. Are our traditions good in the sight of God?
Full disclosure, if you read on in Jeremiah 10 and put this passage in perspective, it probably does not have anything to do with Christmas trees. It is more about making idols out of trees to worship, which is definitely bad in God’s eyes. Yet, this still doesn’t answer the question about our custom of decorating Christmas trees.
It touches my heart to bring this up, because we are called to be “in this world, but not of this world.” (See John 15:19 for example.) The world likes to “suck us in” to worldly traditions and beliefs. Yet, we are not of the world. We are called to act in accordance with God’s will for us. I do believe that celebration of Christmas (not just the decoration of trees) is very commercialized. In the commercialized world, the focus is definitely not on the birth of our savior.
However, I can’t say whether decorating a tree, as part of a Christmas celebration is right or wrong. I don’t see anywhere in God’s Word, where we are called to decorate a tree. Yet, the right or the wrong of it might be for each one of us to decide. I urge you, and I will as well, to pray about it and really examine whether or not it is right for you. Don’t just blindly follow along with everyone else, because it is tradition.
Thank you for giving us your Holy Word to show us the way to live. Help us to examine ourselves in accordance to you Word, and let us not be afraid to change, even if it is against our worldly traditions. Help us to pray before we act and let you guide us, instead of doing things our own way. I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Reflective questions for Jeremiah 10:3-4 (KJV):
*What does Jeremiah 10:3-4 mean to me?
*Is Jeremiah 10:3-4 talking about Christmas trees?
*Do I believe that decorating a tree for Christmas is vain?
*Do I believe we are called to decorate a tree for any reason?
*Do I let decorating a tree take the focus off of Jesus in anyway?
*Have I prayed about the rightness or wrongness of decorating a tree?
*Why do I decorate a tree?
Now, it is your turn.
I am thankful you are here. I look forward to your comments and ideas. Please, let me know your thoughts by commenting below or feel free to contact me. Also, please pray for our Christmas ethics and practices. Let us put our focus on Jesus.
If you haven't already, please consider signing up below to receive the Faith Blog by DUO Inspirations and other "faith" content in your inbox. (When you sign up, you will also be able to download the "5 Reflective Questions to Delve Deeper into God's Word"). Also, if you value what I write, please share it with your friends and family. Thank you.
Is Your Religion in Vain?
“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”
James 1:26 (KJV)
How are you? When I was looking for verses about which to ponder and write, I came across this one. I wonder if people know just how powerful words can be. Even self-talk is more powerful than we give it credit. Our words are not to be taken or said lightly. They can testify to our true identity. We may try to act one way, but often our words will divulge our true feelings and beliefs.
Our mouths can be used for good or bad. We can use them to uplift others or to tear others down. They can be used to testify truth or to manipulate and lie. They can be used to show love or to show hate. How do you use your mouth?
Have you ever heard someone who is seemingly religious say something cruel to or about someone? I have. It gives me a funny feeling in my gut, like something is strangely amiss. Sometimes, I can’t put my finger on it at the time. Yet, it is the fact that someone who I thought was so religious and so close to God, really wasn’t. It confused my heart.
The Holy Spirit tells my heart that those who love God and who are religious are called to have loving and encouraging words, truthful words, even admonishment. Yet, those words are not meant to be cruel and hateful. Deep down, my heart knows what is said in James 1:26. The Holy Spirit tells me that whoever pretends to be religious yet, says hateful things, cruel things, or untruthful things are not as close to God as they pretend to be. They are just trying to fool themselves and others.
We are called to use our mouths for good. We are called to encourage others. We are called to praise God and testify to God’s truths. We are called to know when to keep quiet and when to speak. We are called to admonish each other, teach each other, and care for each other in kindness.
I find it interesting that this verse talks about what fake religion looks like. Not everyone both walks the walk and talks the talk. There are people who look as though they are really religious. They may go to church multiple times a week, volunteer, and even give to charity. Yet, they still call people names, put people down, manipulate others, lie, and don’t testify to God’s truths.
We are warned that we shouldn’t fall for fake religion. We are warned that going to church, volunteering, and looking religious are not enough. We are warned that not everyone is as he or she seems.
If we talk one way and act another way, often people can see through us and can tell that we are being hypocritical. So, if we go to church and act religious, it is nullified if we then turn around and speak badly, lie, or cruelly put people down. Not only that, but God doesn’t like it when people who are supposedly representing Him, serving Him, and worshiping Him, speak so cruelly and misrepresent what a true follower is like. I can feel for Him, because I don’t like to be misrepresented either. What about you?
Thank you for your Word! Thank you for your loving embrace and protection. Help us to not get caught up in fake religion, but to seek only your truth and to serve you in truth. Help us to be true when we worship you, serve you, and testify to others. Help us to be true to you in what ever we do. I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Reflective Questions for James 1:26 (KJV):
*What does James 1:26 mean to me?
*Have I seen people who seem religious but who aren’t?
*How do I feel to see someone misrepresent what it means to love God?
*How do I act? Am I truly a follower of Jesus or just acting like one?
*Do I understand why it is vain to act religious, but then turn around and
misuse my words and voice?
Now, it is your turn.
What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment. Also, if you like these posts and would like to see them in your inbox, please sign up below.
This is Jodi. I am so glad you are here! I am a Christian and life-long learner. I enjoy sharing and encouraging others. I pray you are blessed by this blog. Thank you for being here.