“Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.”
–Luke 1:46-49 (NLT)
The Christmas season has arrived once again, and that should bring joy to our hearts, especially if we know Christ. Scripture tells us that He who was born in a cold stable, is the promised mediator between God and man. Unfortunately, remnants of the Babylonian religion have seeped in to Christianity, and Mary has been venerated in many circles.
While the Bible makes it clear that we must worship God alone, I think that some of us have gone to the other extreme. In our efforts not to put Mary on a pedestal, we have often found ourselves ignoring her.
Instead, I believe we need to strive for appreciation without elevation. Mary’s life has much to teach us about character, the empowerment of God in her life, and obedience to Him. So, let’s examine some of these qualities by using the letter’s C.E.o.
The letter C stands for character, and the three attributes which are most pronounced in Mary’s character are faith, praise and humility. From the beginning of the Christmas story, Mary displays an unusual faith. As a young Jewish girl of about 14, she had every reason to be scared stiff. The law said she could be stoned for pregnancy outside of wedlock. However, Jesus’ future mother showed an amazing display of courage. When the visiting angel told her that she would be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, she did not run from what God wanted. Notice that she didn’t ask if the things that the angel said were possible. She merely asked the angel how this could be. In fact, by stating that she believed what the angel said would come to pass, she affirmed that God was in control.
But something else was troubling Mary. She had been looking forward to her wedding, and now all of her plans were disrupted. Girls, just think about that. Along with having to stop printing of the invitations and cancel the catering order, she must have wondered with great anxiety what the future would bring. Then she must have been horrified by visions of what Joseph would do and say when he found out about her pregnancy. But as the story progresses, we never see Mary’s faith in God waver.
I would like to look at the other qualities which helped her stand firm. But before we move on, I have two interesting questions. Are you and I prepared to trust God when it comes to major life changes? And like Mary, do we see God as being in control?
These are not easy lessons, and we need to ask ourselves these questions many times. But all of us can learn from Mary’s life.
When we are facing challenges, we can have a propensity towards doubt. I can only imagine what must have been going through Mary’s mind, but she affirmed herself to be the Lord’s servant anyway.
Through her response, we not only see the faith that we have talked about, but we also see a striking sense of praise. When we see Mary conversing with her cousin Elizabeth, she breaks out in beautiful exaltation.
Again, what a contrast to most of our lives! We live in a very impersonal age, and we often neglect the fellowship of our brothers and sisters in Christ. When things are difficult for us, we often wonder if God is really calling us. But during hard times, it is wise to find encouragement and support, as Mary did with Elizabeth.
Thirdly, along with faith and praise, we see humility in Mary’s glorification of God. We need to adopt her attitude of submission and humility before God, but we tend to resort to pride instead.
The example that helps me understand the faith, praise and humility in Mary’s life, is to see her as the CEO of Christmas.
Just as the CEO of a company is empowered by the president to do a specific job, God empowered Mary. The lack of pride yields the fruit of surrender, which always brings about God’s empowerment. He teaches us by providing a perfect example of that here.
Similarly, God wants to empower each one of us by His Spirit. He only asks us to yield to Him. His Word says that He is the Father of all good gifts, but like Mary, we have to learn that we are only His servants. From this perspective, everything that we have received comes from God’s hand, and there is nothing that hasn’t been provided to us.
Everything we have looked at so far is tied up in the letter O, and that final letter wraps everything up in a neat Christmas package. O stands for obedience, and a radical example of this is seen in Mary’s life. This extraordinary show of obedience challenges you and me in the twenty-first century, but it can also bring new richness to our lives. Think once again about Mary’s question to the angel which I mentioned earlier. I think this query is noteworthy, because Mary did not receive any further revelation until she asked how God wanted her to perform the task He had already outlined.
In the same way, the apostle James says that we have not because we ask not, and our Lord Jesus also told us to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. So if you feel that God is asking you to do or face something difficult, and you just don’t have the power within yourself, ask Him for the strength that you need.
As we do this, we will find more boldness like that which is demonstrated here. By fervently seeking God about our unique situations, we will be able to stand in obedience to Him.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that taking a stand will be easy. I’m sure it wasn’t a walk in the park for Mary. However, I think that Mary’s life shouts out to all of us from the pages of scripture, calling us to live our lives on a higher plane.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-775-7031, and our ID is 607518748. We hope to talk with you soon!
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