This is part 4 (the final part) in my Christmas series. See the first three parts also: Peace on Earth, Christmas is Love, and Are We Happy Yet?.
Just to let you guys know, this is my last post of the year before I take a little break. I’m planning on coming back January 5th after a recharge and refresh, and sharing some new surprises with you all. Feel free to peruse the tag list to find posts on certain topics, or go and leave comments on any post you’d like, because I’ll still get notifications and will be responding.
Onto the post ahead!
Ah, we’ve come down to the inevitable. A Christmas-y term that most of us have heard a thousand times. Good will toward men. And, before you ask, no, I’m not talking about the thrift store. (Though Goodwill is pretty cool.)
A few weeks ago, I was in a conversation discussing the true meaning of Christmas and what attributes we associate with it. We went through the general “peace, love, joy, happiness, kindness, goodness, giving, good will toward men” list. And I started thinking, “What really is ‘good will?’”
So many people put an emphasis on goodness at Christmas. For crying out loud, don’t disappoint the Elf on the Shelf (and therefore forfeit your gifts by being naughty), make sure to be respectful to your parents while the relatives are around, and by all means be civil and nice, and open the door for the lady with a hundred overfull Christmas packages.
Because being good is…good? I think?
Nobody says this of course, but being good brings us good things too, and who wants to pass them up?
At the heart of Christmas, we need to see our motives. Why exactly are we emphasizing goodness now?
For children, I can attest that in the average home, they are well-behaved for the gifts. With the threat of getting coal in their stockings (and what about those kids with gas or electric fireplaces?), everyone will be good. “We should be kind around ‘the holidays,’” they all say.
My question still stands. WHY?
By teaching kids from a young age that good behavior gets good rewards, we do not instill the value of true goodness. We teach good ol’ bribery.
If you obey, you get good things. OBEY, YOU HEAR ME?
The problem with this mindset is that God does not operate on Santa’s terms. And to instill into human beings the need to be good in order to earn rewards, we completely contradict the whole message of Christmas.
Here is the Santa Christmas message.
Be naughty. >> Be threatened into being nice. >> Be nice in order to secure your rewards. >> Receive rewards.
The whole Santa story revolves around insecurity propelling us toward goodness, not grace propelling us.
Let me elaborate a little more.
The message we were introduced to at Christmas is the message of grace.
To borrow Christmas terms, this is how our lives work according to the Gospel of grace.
Be naughty. >> Be offered grace and forgiveness from God. >> Receive that grace. >> Live a life in light of that grace. Be good – a good that stems from understanding what that grace is.
There is no reward system to earn salvation, grace, or forgiveness. It’s free. And that’s what divides Santa from Jesus.
That’s what divides between being good to earn something, and being good because you know you could NEVER earn something that was freely given you.
Goodness is good at Christmastime. Honestly, I think it is absolutely pleasant and wonderful when people pay attention to how they’re acting and make an effort to help others. It makes the world a sweeter place to be in, when everything crazy is going on around us.
But the question we should all ask ourselves when we are stressing “Good will toward men!” should be this: “Why good will? Why kindness? Why all this?”
Grace is what brought us to the place we are at. Grace is the meaning of Christmas. Grace is love and forgiveness to us at the darkest and most sinful point of our being.
We are to live and love propelled by grace, for without the grace of God, we would not be in the place we are at.
Salvation is not earned. Salvation is given to us and then received.
Let us fix our eyes on this truth as we approach Christmas. Good will toward men because we are loved, forgiven, and made new.
Thank you all so much for your readership this year, it means so much to me. Have a wonderful Christmas, and I’ll see you next year!
16 Replies to “The Difference Between Santa and Jesus”
Wonderful post as usual, Amanda! Beautifully said. I’ll miss you until January:( but I definitely understand needing a break!
Thanks so much, Grace! I’ll definitely miss being here, but I’ll hopefully get some new insights by the time I come back. 🙂
And when you get back, I just nominated you for the Infinity Dreams Award (check out my blog post for details)! (take your time though!)
Thank you! I’ll try to remember to do it! 🙂
I WAS LITERALLY JUST HAVING THIS DISCUSSION TWO DAYS AGO. Girl, the Amandas strike again…
I think it’s great to spend more time intentionally showing kindness and grace towards others around Christmastime, but it absolutely cannot be a bribed thing or just for the motivation of “feeling good.” Not to say that showing love to others won’t make you feel happy or anything–I think the difference is in your motivation going into something. Are you trying to point others to Christ and bless them, or are you doing it for their reaction?
I picked out a box of Christmas cards for several regular customers at my Chick-fil-A and have been writing James 1:17 out in them with a varying note (mostly including “thank you for being one of our awesome customers, we appreciate you”). I got to give out the first two last night, and got to watch the one guy’s smile as he read it. While I was helping another customer, I overheard him remark to the people standing in line, “Chick-fil-A has got to be the only restaurant I could go to that would give me and handwritten, personally addressed thank you Christmas card.” I was bouncing around the whole rest of the night, despite being tired. I think all that joy had to go somewhere, haha. 😉 But that feeling is so different than just “warm and fuzzies” from donating something or whatever. All I donated was my time and a few dollars for the box of cards. But you truly can be blessed from being a blessing.
Anyway, soliloquy over. Lesson learned? Simple words CAN and DO make a difference, when used for God’s glory. And focusing on being a blessing to others instead of complaining about yet another long and late shift makes it practically fly by. 🙂
Wow, that is so awesome! Giving out Christmas cards to your regular customers is such a FANTASTIC idea. I totally agree with you. It is truly a blessing to bless others, though of course, we don’t do it for the blessing. (I enjoyed your soliloquy, by the way. XP)
Doing simple things to share Jesus with others and give them hope will always be greater than donating a million dollars to a charity so you look good to others. Christmas is a wonderful time to remember such things. 🙂
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Yep, yep, yep. This is one of those days where I just have to agree and admit I drew a blank on saying anything profound. But you’re spot on. (And disappearing from the blog CAN’T mean disappearing from texts and Hangouts. 😉 )
Hey, you’re fine. Thanks for commenting anyway!
(Oh, don’t you worry, I will still be here. 😉 I just don’t have 6 hours to devote to writing, editing, and responding to comments these next few weeks! I’m still available to chat.)
Wow great post Amanda! Have a great Christmas, I am looking forward to reading here again in the new year.
Thank you! And I will look forward to coming back.
This is such a good post! Well said!
Thank you so much!
I loved this Amanda! 🙂 I wanted to let you know that I also nominated you for a blogging award – the Sunshine Blogger Award. You can check out the details on my blog: http://loveoutloud.x10host.com/sunshine-blogger-award/
Thank you, Sam!
Aww, thanks. I appreciate it. I’ll check it out!
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I love your old Christmas series! So true and a great reminder of what it really is all about. I hear a million times “remember the reason for the season” But it’s still refreshing to hear it broke down a little more to remind what it all means. Great job!
Haha, thank you! I’m cringing a little myself reading over it, thinking of all the ways I could word things differently, be a little more tactfully graceful in my tone…but oh well. 😉
Thanks for the kind words! 😀