You Better Be Good, for Goodness' Sake
He's making a list and checking it twice, he's going to find out who's naughty and nice.
The clarion call of Christmas is loud and clear: Be good. Get good things. And although this message sounds year round, it is amplified during this season. We employ the Elf on the Shelf, we employ Santa’s list, we even employ the promise of better gifts if our kids will just behave for the month of December. I mean, is it too much to ask? Just go to every single holiday party, eat all the sweets, stay up way past your bedtime, and please still be the nice kid we have trained you to be!
In this season, the very message we have staked our lives on gets obscured by the message of the world. Our message is and always has been that God has given the best gift to the worst people. Our message is not and never will be that if you are the best people, you will get the best gifts. Our kids need good news this holiday season. They need to know that it is not all up to them, that God’s love isn’t dependent on their performance.
Beloved, I think we parents need to hear that message too. Emotions run high during this extra-special season. We want to get the present just right. We want to get the recipe just right. We must have the decorations be just right! And we must do it all in a timely manner, while being incredibly kind to every courtesy clerk in every single store because we want to share the happiness of Christmas with everyone.
In the middle of all of the rushing and spending, we sense that our hearts have strayed. Guilt makes an unwelcome visit as we sit in our cars full of newly purchased presents. We recall the unkind words shouted at children when they asked for one more present. We remember the self-righteous annoyance we felt when we told them to “be more grateful,” and we knew that our hearts were as far from grateful as they could get. The pressure to perform is multiplied during the month of December and even when you try your best, everything ends up being a bit of a letdown.
How do we extend grace to our children this season? You remember grace for yourself. You remember that your ability to make this season memorable does not determine your worth before God. You remember that the only performance that matters eternally was the performance of that little baby boy born into this broken world to take away the sins of his people. You recall that he purchased forgiveness on the cross for every sin you will commit during the most wonderful time of the year. And you share that good news with your little ones. You extend and receive forgiveness for all the fighting and impatience and ungratefulness.
Beloved, remember the gospel: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). His love for us is not based on whether or not we can keep it together this season. He love for us is not based on whether or not our kids are well behaved at all the parties. His love for us is not based on our ability to perform as the best hostess. His love for us is firmly fixed, it has been from eternity past. Remind yourself of that, remind your kids of that too, and rejoice in Christ for us together.
The beauty and the goodness of who he is is reflected not only in the grace of God but in the law of God.
I know my children need the awareness of God’s law, they also need the self-awareness that law gives them.
The gospel changes not only the way God deals with us, but the way we deal with each other.