Last December, I had to discipline my four year old son. (I can’t even remember why). I could not have guessed what happened next. He teared up and asked if he would still get Christmas presents. I was shocked. My wife and I *never* leveraged Christmas gifts to get our kids to behave. Why was he afraid of this?
It turned out he heard the song, “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas,” and took it to heart. In the song, a boy sings about all the naughty things he’s done that year. Then he belts out: “I’m gettin’ nuttin’ for Christmas! Mommy and Daddy are mad. I’m gettin’ nuttin’ for Christmas! ‘Cause I ain’t been nuttin’ but bad.” This is what my little man confessed through his tears 🙂
I explained the song was meant to be funny and tried to laugh it off; I hugged my boy and assured him he would get presents. Then I prayed silently. I wanted my son to have assurance that went deeper than Christmas presents. Somehow, I wanted to respond in the spirit of the gospel. I asked God for the right words.
Haltingly, I told my boy he could never do anything that was so bad he wouldn’t get presents. As an opening, this was OK but I wanted to communicate something of God’s heart. I wanted to father like my Father. I paused and thought about what motivates God to give gifts to us, especially the gift of His Son. Then I said, “Son, we give you Christmas presents because we love you, not because you do everything right.” By the time we finished talking, he got it; we agreed no one need worry about presents.
Tonight, we played some Christmas CDs to kick off the season. “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas” came on. My son looked side to side, and his mouth scrunched uncertainly. But he said, “This song isn’t true.” His mustard seed faith held, and moved last year’s mountain of doubt. I took him in my arms and repeated what I said last year. We bumped fists and moved on.
This season, I pray God will press this message on our hearts: God gave His Son because He loved us. He didn’t give Jesus because we do everything right; quite the opposite. God gave His Son because we *don’t* do what is right. Receive the gift of Christmas—on good days because God loves you, not because you did well; on bad days because God loves you just as much and gave His Son especially for such days.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Rom. 5:8).