Ahhh, December! The month when parents are stressed about Christmas budget and gift buying, and children are so excited, they can hardly stand it! This month comes with beautiful decorations, heart-warming songs, and tasty treats. But for many of us moms, it also comes with a conversation that I had with my children just the other day. Maybe you’ve had it too.
It went like this, “Now, if you want something nice for Christmas, you’d better be good. Bad boys and girls don’t get awesome presents for Christmas.” (It was a bit one-sided haha!) They snapped to almost instantly after this scolding.
But as the words hung in the air, I realized I was asking my children if they had been good enough for Christmas presents. Really? Were my husband and I honestly planning on withholding gifts from them that we and our families had lovingly chosen? Of course not! So, why was I saying that?!
Tradition or habit, perhaps.
It got me thinking. Thinking about what’s really going on at Christmas. Our culture has so many facets of celebration during this season. There are many things I love about America, but as I sit and think about how our family will be celebrating Christmas in another country in just a few years, I ask myself what “parts” of Christmas I want to take with us. I want to be careful not to simply take “American Christmas” with us to Japan. I pray that we can take biblical Christmas with us. My pastor reminded our mission team just the other night that we aren’t part of this world; we are just passing through. We should be teaching our children biblical culture…what it means to be a Christian, how we can live for God in spite of the world around us, and what God’s Word says for believers. After all, we’ll be spending eternity in heaven, and only a few years in America.
I’m afraid that my question to my children if they’d been good enough was terribly awful.
The truth is, they haven’t been good enough. They never will be good enough. And neither will I. None of us are righteous. We are all sinners. We are all failures. None of us are good enough to deserve God’s gifts extended to us in any form.
And during Christmas, we celebrate God’s greatest gift, Jesus Christ! We remember Him as the baby in the manger, a gift that came in unsightly wrapping, swaddled, and laying in a manger. This gift was presented to the world in near obscurity under the cover of night and enveloped in humility. What a gift!! Isn’t that what we celebrate?! How undeserving we are of this grace and love! Nothing we could ever do would merit this generosity!
God set the pattern for gift-giving on Christmas day when He gave His only begotten Son, our Savior, Immanuel. Shouldn’t we as believers follow His pattern for giving? Shouldn’t we model God’s extravagant love by giving so freely, so unreservedly. God didn’t ask us if we had been good enough to receive His precious gift that first Christmas night. He didn’t hold a ‘naughty or nice’ list over our heads, guilting us into compliance.
Quite the opposite. He knew we were desperate, in need of a Savior. He knew we didn’t deserve such a marvelous gift. He knew we could never repay Him. But He gave anyway, no strings attached, no expectations. Just pure, beautiful, perfect and holy giving.
So this Christmas, let’s celebrate more than the baby in the manger, the presents, the festivities. Let’s celebrate the beauty of the Gospel. Why not refuse to let our children believe that they have been good enough to get presents this year? Instead, let’s lead them to understand that, just like their parents, they don’t deserve a tree surrounded by gifts, but that we give them anyway.
And more importantly, we didn’t deserve the gift of a Savior, who hung and bled on a tree… but God gave Him anyway.
Celebrating the Gospel this Christmas,