I understand you are coming to town to deliver gifts to people. Apparently, you have a list of those who have been good this past year, and those who have been bad. If I make your good list, I will get something from you but if I don’t, I am out of luck.
That’s a problem.
You see, I am not a nice person. I have been mean and done dark and dreadful things. Even so, I am not a bad person. I have shown love, kindness and compassion. I am just a person, capable of good because of God and evil because of sin.
What you are offering, Santa, is justice. While I like the idea of other people getting what they deserve, it is a far less appealing concept when applied to myself.
I don’t want what’s fair. I want mercy and grace. I want to be undeservedly forgiven and pardoned for both the negligent and intentional bad things I have done, and to receive blessings that I have not earned.
Fortunately, there is someone who offers a gift to everyone, regardless of whether they have been naughty or nice.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Santa, you operate on the merit system, giving people only what they deserve. You don’t give gifts, you give wages.
Jesus operates in the realm of unentitlements, giving people better than they deserve and more than they have earned. He gives to the unworthy. Like me.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:4-5
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
When you are celebrating with your family this year, and Mrs. Claus or your brother gets on your one last nerve or does something stupid or says something hurtful, take a deep breath and look up. Remember how Christ left the glory and comfort of heaven to be born, suffer and die for you, and then, in the strength only God gives, love them, because he first loved you.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” Matthew 7:12
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44
This Christmas, Santa, I encourage you to leave your naughty and nice list at the North Pole and instead light up the darkness of our world with the gift of Jesus. After all, it is because of him that you can be good, for goodness sake.
“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11