It’s only the beginning of December, but many kids have been asking for what they want for Christmas for some time now. Maybe you were lucky and it didn’t start until right around Thanksgiving as Black Friday ads or Christmas toy wish-list ads started popping up. If they’re a little older, those leaked Black Friday ads online may have started the asking a little earlier. Or maybe the asking started even earlier, not too specifically but at least in general of what they would really like, or hoped to get at some point, but knew it was too presumptuous to actually mention Christmas too many months in advance. Nonetheless, they felt the need to plant those seeds as early as possible.
Maybe you have the child with a birthday in the latter half of the year strategically mention an appropriate amount of time after their birthday that they’d really like something similar to what they got for their birthday. The new gift being something of a companion piece or special add-on. Maybe they were so audacious as to acknowledge that while they were indeed thankful for what they received for their birthday, what they would really be impressed/thankful for/overjoyed by would be to receive _______ for Christmas.
Outside of Christmas, when else is there an appropriate time for asking for something? God sends us His Son, the greatest gift of all; we try to instill in our children the importance of it being better to give than to receive, but if the people that love me are eager to give, there’s no reason not to ask for what I actually want so that my thank you is genuine! Plus, we as parents and grandparents encourage our children to ask because we want them to be happy, and their happiness makes us cheerful givers. God also encourages us to ask, Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” Although, the way we ask is certainly left up to God’s sovereignty and timing, but God certainly promises to hear and answer our prayers according to His good and gracious will.
So what have you asked God for recently? This might take the form of the things we were specifically thankful for not so long ago. Maybe it’s as simple as the table prayers offered this day, or things that came to mind while praying different petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. God desires for us to see and come to Him as the Giver of all good things, chiefly the gifts of faith, new life, and salvation won for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and delivered to us by the Holy Spirit in the waters of Holy Baptism.
God gives to us freely out of love for us. Like any loving parent giving a gift, there is an expectation of how it will be used. A child receives a BB gun to practice target shooting and improve aim, NOT to shoot the dog or sibling. A child receives a new toy, requiring the helpful assembly of the parent, with the expectation that the hard work of putting it together means it will be enjoyed with love and care, rather than broken or destroyed in no time flat, being left beyond the ability to be reassembled. Every parent dreads the gift that was so long wanted and desired being so soon forgotten or played with almost obligatorily.
God certainly seems to convey the same sort of ideas in His Word. Paul reminds us in Galatians 6, that we who are spiritual – having received faith and understanding of God’s Word – should use that understanding to call out and restore our errant brother or sister in Christ in a spirit of gentleness, and that we should also guard ourselves against pride. God wants us to use His Law and Gospel properly, both to call out sin because we know better, but to do so with the same sort of pity and mercy with which He admonishes us. Both so that we may win over the one we love, but also so that we not be puffed up with pride, and “put your eye out” in the process. God has given us so many good and gracious gifts, not least of which is His Word and He himself directs His disciples and us of just what we are to do with such a great and precious gift at the close of Matthew, where He tells us to “Go, and make disciples of all nations… baptizing and teaching them” all that we have been commanded in His Word. Jesus again makes it clear in his parable about the talents that the master expects fruitful use of what has been given. Just as the parent desires that their child use, or play with the gifts given, God desires that we use the many gracious gifts He has given us in the many and varied ways He has given us opportunity.
May God give you the opportunity to be a cheerful giver, as you share the heavenly gifts He has given to you in His Son with those whom He has given to you in this life, not only during the Christmas season, but the whole year through.
Have a Blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas,