O Little Town of Bethlehem and the Importance of Humility

In Daily Devotional by Steven Sukkau

Theme of the Week: Christmas Carols

Bible Verse: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2

Scripture Reading: Luke 14:7-11

I hope you have enjoyed reflecting on the many classic Christmas carols that, like the star of Bethlehem, point us toward and prepare us for, the Christmas season.

These beautiful and beloved songs remind us that Christmas is just an entry point into the amazing story of redemption God is telling. It fills us with joy, but also longing to see the story reach its fulfillment. Astonishingly, Christmas is an open invitation to play an active role in bringing our communities into God’s wondrous story. Through these songs we are encouraged to throw off our fears and boldly proclaim the good news, confident that God is at work in us and through us.

Our favorite carols can also humble us.

Our culture is relentless in encouraging us to promote ourselves.

A generation is being raised on the idea of being a social influencer. In the professional development world, platforms like LinkedIn spur users to find their personal brand so they never waste an opportunity to position themselves favorably.

While this may seem like a modern notion, we can see the ancient world was not immune. Jockeying for the seat of honor at a party, being seen as the most pious at the temple, or dropping the most coins in the offering plate were all ways to elevate yourself.

That’s what makes Jesus such an enigma to the world. He rides a donkey instead of a stallion; He surrounds himself with young fishermen instead of an intimidating entourage and personal army. And for His entrance onto the Middle Eastern scene, it’s backwater Bethlehem instead of a capital of civilization like Jerusalem.

This last detail is not lost on the author of O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Minister Phillips Brooks personally visited Bethlehem in 1865, riding on horseback from Jerusalem on Christmas Eve.

By nightfall, he arrived at the small village and attended a small Christmas Eve service at the Church of the Nativity.

The memory would remain burned in his brain when years later he wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem.

He later recalled, “I remember especially on Christmas Eve, when I was standing in the old church in Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after hour with the splendid hymns of praise to God, how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices I knew well, telling each other of the ‘wonderful night’ of the Savior’s birth.”

As you sing the great Christmas carols this holiday, be reminded that your status as a child of God is secure and allow that security to join the meek and humble life of following Christ.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for coming to Earth as a child and setting a humble example of what it means to love. Help us to share that love with our communities, one that is not arrogant and does not boast, but humbly seeks the best for others.

Reflection: This holiday season, take every opportunity to show honor to your friends and family. Rest secure in your humble position and know that you are making God smile.

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Steven Sukkau
Steven Sukkau is a writer, journalist and radio broadcaster living on the Canadian prairies with his wife, two daughters and hyperactive terrier.
Steven Sukkau
Steven Sukkau is a writer, journalist and radio broadcaster living on the Canadian prairies with his wife, two daughters and hyperactive terrier.