Family worship: Christmas gifts show thankfulness to God
When I was a little boy, I looked forward to Christmas. It was such a happy time!
Dad would take us into the city to see all the Christmas decorations and hear the huge organ in Wanamaker’s store. We went sledding at the golf course. The hills were so steep and long that our sleds flew us down the hill! Then home for Mommy’s cocoa.
Christmas food was special. We had eggnog at breakfast and turkey, gravy, and stuffing for dinner. We even had some candy.
We’d go Christmas caroling in our neighborhood. Sometimes it was so cold that, walking from house to house, our noses stuck together when we breathed. Have you ever been so cold that your nose stuck together?
Our Christian school had a Christmas program where we recited Luke’s Christmas story. Everyone we loved came. Afterwards, we climbed into our cold cars and went to our warm homes where the twinkling lights of our Christmas trees welcomed us.
Then came Christmas morning and that was the happiest time of all because everyone had a stocking hanging from the fireplace with their name on it and there were lots of presents.
Usually, my stocking had small gifts like candy and a lump of coal (that was Daddy’s joke) and a yo-yo or top and caps with a metal bomb you put them in to make them go “BANG!” Also we always got a couple bars of soap. Daddy loved things that smelled good and the soap was a special kind that smelled really good. Goat’s milk soap was my favorite.
Then we had worship together. We sang Christmas carols, recited Luke’s Christmas story again, and prayed.
Finally the big deal finally arrived: Christmas presents! We all were so excited. Dad and Mom were excited to give us the gifts they’d chosen for us and we were very excited to open them up and see what we got!
Christmas is the day we celebrate God giving us the gift of His Son, Jesus, who saves us from our sins, so we, too, give gifts to one another remembering and showing our thanks for God’s gift to us out there in the manger of Bethlehem with Mary, Joseph, and the newborn Baby Jesus.
Christmas gifts are happy things because we are so happy that God gave us His Son to rescue us, to save us from our sin.
Well, how about this sin?
Have you ever sulked or whined or gotten angry when someone gave you a present you didn’t want? You were so excited to open it, but then when you saw what it was, you thought to yourself, “Yuck! Just what I didn’t want!”
This is sin. Not that you are disappointed, but that you aren’t thankful for that gift, too, even though it wasn’t exactly what you wanted.
Why be thankful for a gift that’s not what you want?
Because your father or mother or brother or sister who gave it to you chose it and and paid money for it and wrapped it and put it under the tree to tell God how thankful they are for His gift of Jesus and to tell you how much they love you. Both good things, aren’t they? Their thankfulness to God and their love for you. This is the meaning of every single gift whether we like our gifts or not.
So it’s sin when we show our anger at a gift we don’t like. Not being thankful for what people give us and what people do for us is sinful.
And you know what?
God is the One Who gave us the particular father, mother, brothers, and sisters we have. God decided the body and brain we would have. God decided and gave us everything else that makes us who we are—our hair, our skin, our ears, our blood type, our emotions, even our breath. Every breath we take comes directly from God, and the second He decides not to give us breath anymore, that very second we die.
So it’s a plain fact that disappointment is always with HISappointment. Do you get it? We say “disappointment,” but every disappointment has come from God. So we can remind ourselves of this by correcting ourselves, changing the word “disappointment” when we or someone else says it, to “HISappointment.”
We can say it quietly under our breath and they’ll hear it and think about it. We can say it quietly under our breath and we ourselves will hear it and think about it.
You see, God owes you nothing. He doesn’t owe you strong muscles. He doesn’t owe you a cute nose. He doesn’t owe you any height or weight or strength. He doesn’t owe you good health. He doesn’t owe you anything at all—particularly Christmas presents that make you happy each year.
When you get mad at someone for not giving you a gift you like, you show you think God owes you happiness but you don’t owe Him nothing. You show everyone watching there by the Christmas tree that you aren’t thankful to them because you aren’t thankful to God, and this is a very wicked way to live.
So stop being ungrateful for your Christmas gifts. Your hair color. Your brothers and sisters. Your father and mother. Your church and pastors…
Stop being ungrateful for God’s gift of Jesus.
The Bible says,
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. -James 1:17
Why are the things you’ve been given good? Why are the gifts you have received perfect?
Because finally, they didn’t really come from your brother or sister, your father or mother. They came from above. From the Father of lights. From God.
Every gift from God is good because God Himself is good.
Unhappiness and anger at God for how He made you and the gifts He gives you are not going to get you anything but more sorrow and anger.
When I was a in high school, I used to talk with my mother a lot when she was working in the kitchen. I remember telling her “I should have this” and “I deserve that” and “I have a right to” something or other.
She would rebuke me firmly, always saying the same thing: “Tim, God owes you NOTHING!”
Surrounded by all the joy and beauty of Jesus we celebrate at Christmas Time, the boy or girl who pouts and whines and throws his gift and stomps out of the room and says “I hate Christmas!” is showing he thinks God owes him something more than Jesus.
This is terrible. What more could God have given us than His Son?
Christmas is when we show how thankful we are all are for God’s Son Jesus Who save us from our sins.
So be thankful. That gift is not a disappointment, but HISappointment.