The Elf on the Shelf phenomenon is too much for me. Some of you over-achievers out there are making me look bad. While your elves cause all kinds of hilarious mishaps, ours forgets to move. Worse is, when he does move, he simply sits down somewhere else in the house. Our elf is a “Bah, Humbug.”
This blog is deeper than that though. I am not writing to condemn a fun family tradition. I am writing, however, to speak a warning and a word of encouragement. Christmas has become a lot of things in our culture. Not all of those things are good. Actually, some of them are quite sad. I simply want to remind you about some things you want to teach your children this Christmas and give you a warning about where you might be doing the exact opposite.
Grace is a gift not a gimmick.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
The reality of any gift is that the recipient does not deserve it. A gift, by definition, is something you have not nor cannot earn. We are celebrating the birth of Christ, the ultimate gift given to us who are completely and absolutely underserving of such a gift. I would encourage all of us to consider the gifts we give, how we give them, and most importantly, what we say about why we give them.
Parents, a word of caution about the Naughty or Nice discussion. If your kid is naughty, are they going to still get gifts? Would you ever even consider that decision? You are telling them that is how one receives gift. Gifts become rewards. The problem is that many are being rewarded for doing exactly what we said would be punished.
The real truth in all this is that gifts are grace. If you celebrate Christmas with the Santa tradition, he does represent a graciousness that is special and unique. The modern version of Santa, however, seems to overplay the naughty or nice theme. I encourage you to spend some time with your kids discussing the grace that any gift is. That every gift is undeserved. This conversation is a beautiful way to discuss the real meaning of Christmas.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
Christ means Messiah. The Chosen One. The One Who was Promised. The One who would Deliver His People from their Sins. Jesus Christ is the greatest gift. He is an undeserved gift. Speak grace this Christmas.
You do not have to put the elf away, but you might want to put some lies away. Don’t tell your kids consequences you will never uphold. Don’t attach behavior to deserving grace. Teach the richness of grace. Teach the truth that Naughty or Nice…it’s all grace.