Serendipity for Singing, Not Sinning

by | Dec 21, 2020 | Devotional

Christmas is the only holiday you never want to arrive because that means Christmas is going to end. What makes the Christmas season so enjoyable is the season itself and the anticipation. So we’ll take down the lights. We’ll pack away the decorations. And eventually, we’ll stop listening to Christmas music. No more “O Holy Night,” “Good King Wenceslas,” or “Good Christian Men Rejoice.”

That last song, “Good Christian Men Rejoice,” is an old Christmas carol from centuries ago originally sung in both Latin and German. Back in the 1800s, a fellow named John Mason Neale translated it into English. And that’s the version of the song we know and love today unless you sing one of those versions that gets rid of “men.” Some people sing “Good Christian friends” or “Good Christian folk” or “Good Christians all.”

But—fun fact—if you want to be all technical, the original Latin verse doesn’t even have “men” or “friends” or any kind of people. But that’s not what I want to tell you about. What I want to tell you about is how John Mason Neale, the translator of this hymn, made a mistake. Well, he didn’t make it. He kind of fixed it. But there’s still a mistake in the song. You know that part where we sing: “News! News!” after “Give ye heed to what we say”? Turns out the editor who published Neale’s book of Christmas carols accidentally added some extra notes that weren’t in the original. So Neale decided to throw in some extra words. And so now we have extra notes and extra words.

News! News! 

Joy! Joy!

Peace! Peace! 

Perhaps this is what the famous artist Bob Ross would call “a happy little accident.” This is a great Christmas carol to sing. And we have good reason to sing. That is, so long as you’re among the righteous you do. 

That’s what God’s Word tells us in Proverbs 29:6.

An evil man is ensnared in his transgression, but a righteous man sings and rejoices.

The righteous person sings and rejoices. But not the evil person. Nope. Not them. Because they do wrong. They are snared. They’re caught in a trap they created for themselves with their own sin. 

It’s like what Proverbs 26:27 describes.

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.

“The mistake of choosing sin is never a happy little accident.” Sinning makes life dangerous. Our own evil operations can grow out of control and destroy us. Our sin has a way of coming back to bite us. A life of sin is a complicated life.

A life of sin is a complicated life.

But you know who doesn’t have to worry about being caught in their sin? The righteous. They don’t have to worry. They can sing and rejoice “With heart and soul and voice” (since we were talking about that Christmas carol). The righteous can rejoice because they don’t have to fear falling into the dangerous and complicated trap of their own sin. They can rejoice in their security. The righteous have security they can rejoice in because they’re following God’s standards. And when you’re following God’s standards there are no pitfalls created by your sinful ways. There are no snares caused by their own sinfulness to trap you. So rejoice. Rejoice! You can even sing. The Christian has reason to be glad. Living for the Lord—living a righteous life is reason to be glad. 

That’s what Proverbs 10:28 says.

The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.

The book of Proverbs presents life as a choice between two paths. The path of the wise and the path of the foolish. The wise path leads to hope and joy. The path of wisely living for the Lord. Living a righteous life before God is the right way. It’s the good way.  The way of the wicked is the bad way. You don’t want that path. If you’re living God’s way, then you can have hope and joy no matter what you’re going through. You know God, you’re pleasing God, and you have eternity in view. You can’t do that if you’re living wickedly. Whatever hopes the wicked have, it won’t end well for them. 

“The mistake of choosing sin is never a happy little accident.”

If you know God’s Son, whose birth we’re celebrating—the righteous Son of God who came to die for the unrighteous, then rejoice. If you know the Lord and you’re living according to His standards, then rejoice. Enjoy the satisfaction and fulfillment that come from knowing the Lord. Sing and rejoice.

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

Brent Niedergall

Pastor, Grammarian, Runner

Brent Niedergall, MDiv, is Associate Pastor at Victory Baptist Church in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. He’s gone to war in Afghanistan, felled towering trees, and parsed Greek verbs.

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