Born in a manger

Photo of Robin Harris Kimbrough

Dr. Robin Harris Kimbrough

One of the hardest lessons in this life we need to learn is humility. It transcends race, class, and gender orientation. Being prideful is a human struggle. It is a sin resulting in harm to others and harm to self. We have too much pride to ask for help, or to admit that we are sick or struggling in some area. Some of us go through great expense, emotional and financial, because of pride. Many of us struggle with pride in our relationships with other people. Our lack of humility keeps us from admitting that we are wrong, or it makes us stay angry with someone rather than forgiving the person.

It does not take a lot of money to get the ‘big head.’ People of all classes walk around like they do not need a living Savior. The truth is we do need the Lord. We need the baby born to a virgin named Mary, and who was born in a manger. The circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth reveal our need for humility, and how we need it to submit to the will of God. We all know the story of Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, and how he searched for housing for his pregnant wife-to-be and ended up in a stable. Mary gave birth in the stable to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Although this housing dilemma for Jesus happened over 2000 years ago, it still exists today. Jesus cannot find room in the inn, but he can find room in the manger.

Today’s inn is not the Ritz Carlton or the Omni, and today’s stable is not a farm or stable. They represent the hearts of humanity. Jesus cannot find room in a prideful heart—one that does not open itself up to love or a need for God’s grace. This is also true for professing Christians. We shut Jesus out when we rely on our strength and ability to accomplish a goal. We turn Jesus away when we worry and fear over situations out of our control. We hang an unwelcome sign for Jesus when we rely on others more than his word. We are the inn-keepers who turn Jesus away. But there is still room for Jesus for those who do welcome him in spite of their location in life. They invite him in because of their sins. They welcome him because of their inability to do it all by themselves. They make a place for him because they know that behind the strength, there is weakness.

Jesus was born in manger for this purpose. Jesus was born in a feeding trough, a dirty and cold place. We need to know that regardless of our status in this life, in spite of our filth and unclean state, Jesus can be born. Jesus can be born in anyone regardless of his or her status. Jesus cannot be born in the manger if we are unwilling to humble ourselves and permit him to give birth on the inside of us. Jesus wants to be born in a manger. Jesus will do his best to give birth on the inside of each of us.

There was a preacher who said that so many of us brag who can bake the best apple pie or the best chocolate pie, but we need to know that Jesus makes the best humble pie. Jesus bakes this pie for the particular person. We all need a slice from time to time. Unlike these other pies, humble pie does not always taste good, but it is good for us. This Christmas as we reflect on the birth of Jesus, let us remember that he was born in a manger. He wants to be born again in us. Eat a slice of humble pie. Be born in a manger.