Most of us are familiar with the classic Christmas song “Santa Claus is coming to town.” The chorus goes:
You better watch out, You better not cry
Better not pout I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He's making a list, and checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake,
He knows if you've been bad or good So be good for goodness sake!...
The point of this song, of course, is that if children misbehave, they won’t get Christmas presents! Parents have been using this song for generations as a ploy to get their children to behave themselves around Christmas time. Whether or not this ploy works, it does to some degree turn Christmas presents into “prizes” (something you earn) instead of true “gifts” (something given with no strings attached).
A problem arises, when people apply this thinking to the first and most important Christmas gift of all time- the gift of God’s love and salvation found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many people believe that you get to heaven by being a good person; if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds then you earn the right to go to heaven. This dangerously flawed thinking results in people believing either that they are good enough already and don’t need Jesus, or that they have messed up their life too much for Jesus to ever accept or love them. Both of these ideas are horribly wrong! You can never do enough good deeds to get into heaven; at the same time, you are never out of reach of God’s forgiveness, no matter what you have done! Eternal life is a gift, found only in knowing and loving Jesus. No one is worthy of this incredible gift, for as Ephesians 2 says we are ALL spiritually dead because of our sins and deserving of God’s wrath (punishment); we can never achieve God’s standard of perfection, which is required to get into heaven.
Yet, Ephesians 2:4-9 says:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved…through faith. And this is not your own doing; IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
So, this Christmas, whether you have been naughty or nice, open God’s great gift to you! Like other gifts you cannot enjoy the gift of salvation unless you open it. You open this gift by asking God to forgive your sins and seeking to know Jesus. This is not a gift that you open once and forget about. If you want to experience the true joy of knowing the Lord, you need to daily come to Jesus, ask forgiveness for yesterday’s mistakes, and revel in the fact that God loves you no matter what! We obey God not to earn his love, but rather to thank him for his unchanging, infinite, love that will never leave us! (Romans 8:38-39) Merry Christmas!