We know the Grinch is the bad guy throughout most of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” but sometimes the bad guy is right in point he makes, if not in the way he goes about making it. For some – and I would venture to say many – Christmas is becoming more and more about gifts. I have to get the best gifts. I have to be remembered for giving the best gifts. I have to get the best deal on my gifts, so I can tweet that out and brag about it. Gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts. But it’s cool, because even though we spend an excessive amount of time on buying, giving, and swapping Christmas gifts, we take 5 minutes to read Luke 2 or let Linus do it when we watch the Peanuts Christmas Special. So it’s not like we have totally written Jesus off; we’ve just marginalized Him.
Now, I’m not against gifts. I, in fact, love to get gifts, and I love to give gifts. Some would say that gift giving and receiving is my love language. I believe that they are important and a valuable way to show love to each other. I also think that if we’re not careful, gifts become an idol, knocking Jesus from His rightful place as the center of our Christmas attention. An idol is anything that you place before God in such a way that it dictates the way you act.
I do think that presents take God’s place. They become what we value. Our attitude at the end of the Christmas day may hinge on what we did and did not get. Our heart is stirred, either in joy or disappointment. I’ve certainly been there, pouting because my gift(s) wasn’t what I expected or hoped for. I’ve thought, “If you really knew me or cared about me, you wouldn’t have gotten me that.” But no matter how bad that gift may have been (and it probably really wasn’t that bad), it really didn’t change anything. My heart said the world was ending, when in reality, I had all I would ever need in that moment, and I do right now as I write this.
Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
So where’s your treasure? What moves you? Gifts? Or the God of this world born as a little Jewish baby with one purpose: to hang on a cross to pay your penalty? What do you think this season is about?