Should a Christian have a Christmas tree?

This question comes up each year around Christmas time, and the reason for the question is a passage in Jeremiah 10:2-5. The prophet says:

“Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 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. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.”

At first reading, the passage would seem to condemn the practice of cutting down a tree and decorating it. This would also apply to the Easter trees that have become popular, with eggs tied to it for decorations. It would also cover trees decorated for any other purpose.

But is that what the passage is saying? Hardly, for it goes on to say that the tree is not a god, since it cannot move. It is not a rival for our God, since it has no power to do good or evil. The real thrust of the passage is a condemnation of idolatry. The heathen in the land were worshipping false gods, among them a tree god that was worshipped by decorating a tree that had been cut from the forest and brought into the house. The Israelites had adopted the custom and were worshipping the tree god instead of giving God His rightful place in their lives.

We can do the same thing, with or without a Christmas tree. The Christ of Christmas may be replaced by the gifts, the parties, the celebration, whether a Christmas tree is present or not. It is imperative that we do not let anything, good thing, evil thing, or something with neither good nor bad characteristics, come between our God and us. Make sure that your worship is reserved for the Lord alone. For some, this may mean doing away with some things that others do not feel interfere with their relationship to the Lord. As Paul said in Romans 14:5 “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

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