Christmas heralds the birth of the Child of Truth. Jesus is truth incarnate (John 14:6) who speaks only truth, being unable to lie (Hebrews 6:18). Therefore, our lips should sing truth at this season more than any other, but, ironically and perhaps sacrilegiously, falsehoods have dominated this holiday.
Millions of children anticipate St. Nick’s arrival each December 24th. Their bodies tinkle in excitement as their parents bid them goodnight. They hear a thump. Was it Prancer? Or Dancer? Or Dasher? With a great struggle, they close their eyes and try to sleep. They wake up the next morning to a full Christmas tree and an empty cookie plate. Years go by and the noises sound less like reindeer hooves and they begin to wonder if what their friend says is true: Santa isn't real.
America is a free country and grants its citizens the right to teach their children whatever they please, but that doesn't necessarily make what they're teaching true. If you're an unbeliever, then you can tell your kids that cars run on pickles if you want. But believers should have a higher standard since they serve a Higher Authority. It is a Christian’s duty to raise their offspring in truth.
Scripture forbids lying (Leviticus 19:11; Colossians 3:9) and lying to a child is no less sinful than lying to an adult. The delightful fantasy of Mr. Claus may be cloaked in innocence, but we must remember that God abhors all sins, even the ones that seem minor. "A Christian should never tell any type of lie" (John MacArthur, The Truth About the Lordship of Christ, page 81). "But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil," (Matthew 5:37).
If a parent lies to their child now, the child may be quicker to disbelieve them later. Sometimes even the smallest lie from a parent can be detrimental. The parent claims a jolly old man delivers presents on Christmas Eve, then a few years later they inform their child that it's a myth. How will children be able to distinguish when their parents are telling the truth and when they're not? If they lied about Santa the child might wonder if they lied about God too. They may begin to doubt creation, the incarnation, or some other hard-to-grasp doctrine. Although the Santa masquerade may have no effect on a child’s trust in their parents, why take the risk? Regardless of whether the child’s faith is shaken or not, they will feel disappointed, and no parent wants that. Those who tell these tales should remember how they felt when their parents told them the truth of St. Nick.
Some seem to think the legend of Santa adds to the magic of Christmas. Believe me, Mr. Claus adds nothing. It's like dumping buckets of sugar on a gingerbread man—it's already sweet the way it is (now, if it was coffee, that'd be a different matter) and any more sugar would make it sickening. Christmas is my favorite time of year, and always has been, even though I never believed in Santa as a child. Wouldn't children rather receive gifts from parents who love them instead of a strange man they've never met? Every kid looks forward to their birthday even though there isn't some guy called Sir Hullabaloo who rides a unicorn and sneaks into the house through the rafters and leaves a cake and presents.
I'm not purporting that parents should completely banish Santa from their homes. There is nothing wrong with watching Christmas movies or displaying decor featuring Santa, as long as the child knows what he really is—a fictional character.
"For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?" (Ecclesiastes 2:25)
A life that is severed from God cannot experience true joy. However, everyone, regardless of their eternal destiny, has reasons for thanksgiving. God manifests his goodness by supplying our needs daily. Even the unsaved are provided with food, clothing, and other necessities. But because of their unregenerate condition, they are incapable of heartfelt gratitude. Unfortunately, Christians frequently fall into the habit of complaining—some more, some less. We are contented as long as life continues as normal, but what if all that changed? Would we be thankful?
The Israelites didn't complain about luxuries they'd never had, but about the opulence of Egypt. It's depressing that we rarely appreciate someone or something until we lose them. The deaf, blind, and crippled are the only ones who truly understand the blessing of sound, sight, and a walk down the street. Never take your loved ones for granted; you might not see them tomorrow. Perhaps one of the reasons God takes His blessings away is to open our eyes, helping us to see tomorrow's joys clearer than we did yesterday's.
"Do not say, 'Why is it that the former days were better than these?' For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this." (Ecclesiastes 7:10)
We are all guilty of dreaming of having this or that. Our minds can become so entangled in possessions that only God can unravel the knots. We think happiness can be bought. Maybe that is because fun is confused with happiness. Fun can indeed be bought—theme park tickets, ice cream, movies—but not happiness. All these are temporal delights that won't last to eternity. "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 5:10). It is best "not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it" (Proverbs 23:4).
If anyone had a right to complain, it was Christ. He left the splendor of heaven to sojourn on earth. He was accustomed to glory, riches, and joy. The earthly poverty and pain must have been unbearable. Yet He did not utter a single complaint. His words were ones of gratitude (Matthew 15:36, 26:27, Luke 22:19, John 6:11). We must acquire a thankful heart, not for what we will have but what we do have. This mandates an attitude adjustment. "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22).
People with a positive perspective are bound to live a happier life than those who dwell on the negative. "I want that shirt" becomes "Wow, I can't believe I have all these nice clothes!" "I have such a lousy job" becomes "God, thank You for this paycheck." When we focus on what we have, all the things we want fade into insignificance. "All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast" (Proverbs 15:15).
As John MacArthur once wrote, "If you question the love and goodness of God to all, look again at the world in which we live. Someone might say, 'There's a lot of sorrow in this world.' The only reason the sorrow and tragedy stand out is because there is also much joy and gladness. The only reason we recognize the ugliness is that God has given us so much beauty. The only reason we feel the disappointment is that there is so much that satisfies" (The Truth About Grace, p. 8-9).
"If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content." (1 Timothy 6:8)
No one's life is so awful that there's absolutely nothing to be thankful for. It's easier to appreciate the greater blessings such as your family, friends, home, food, and water. However, that's no excuse to forget the little blessings. Even toothpaste. Yep, it's something most people aren't exactly thankful for, but it keeps our teeth from rotting out. And if our teeth fell out, we couldn't eat, and if we couldn't eat we'd die (okay, we probably wouldn't die because we could just get fake teeth, but still). I know that's an extreme way of looking at it, but if it helps us to be grateful, isn't it worth a try? If we counted our blessings of every size, the number would be staggering and the list unending! I've found I’m more thankful if I actually list some of my blessings in prayer rather than if I thank God for an unnameable blob of blessings I don't take the time to mention.
"Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe." (Hebrews 12:28)
As Christians, we have numerous reasons to be thankful. But our primary impetus is our salvation. Through death, pain, poverty, hunger, and thirst, the reality of salvation endures. This is the greatest, most precious gift. It distinguishes us from others. How can we ever be ungrateful with such a wonderful assurance? How can any earthly blessing compare? Remember your salvation the next time you're tempted to complain. Is your situation really that unbearable? Don't your blessings outweigh your troubles? If you are struggling with contentment, prayer and Bible reading is the best medicine. Pray for His aid in your pursuit of gratitude. Thank Him daily. The Scriptures will teach you to be thankful. As I've already noted, His Word is bursting with verses of thanksgiving. The records of men and women with thankful hearts give us godly examples to imitate.
"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude." (1 Timothy 4:4)
God has blessed us with many wonderful things. We can never repay Him for all His gifts. In light of this, is thankfulness too much to ask? Start at the heart and a thankful attitude will soon be visible outwardly. When you praise the Creator, especially in the midst of trials, it pleases Him and serves as a testimony to the unsaved. They may become curious why we are so happy when we seemingly have nothing to smile about. Our joyful demeanor might influence them to seek the same source of joy. However, if we complain, it automatically leads others to question God's goodness. Gratefulness glorifies God, witnesses to sinners, and produces joy. This Thanksgiving day I encourage you to be thankful—not only today, but as a habit. Let the song of our hearts mimic Paul's words, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Some people live their whole lives seeking a soulmate. Marriage is a spring of joy if you're joined to the right person. But marriage to the wrong person can lead to unbearable heartache. Marriage is more permanent than super glue. The only knife that cuts the cord in God's eyes is adultery (Matthew 5:32; 19:9, c.f. 1 Corinthians 7:15 for other legitimate grounds). No one should jump into a pool during winter, travel on a low tank of gas, or rush into matrimony without serious thought.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers." Chaff is not recognizable in its early stages and neither is a person's spiritual condition. You can't know if a person is really a Christian after a few outings anymore than you can distinguish a blob at midnight. Don't let anyone, not even your mom, friend, or fiancé, hurry you into a relationship that will affect the rest of your life. Take the time you need. If he won't wait then he apparently needs to learn patience. Would you buy a house with termite problems? Then don't marry a guy with soul problems.
Emotions are as unpredictable as nitroglycerin. How often have we done something in the heat of the moment and regretted it later! Sometimes we need to tune out our heart and listen to our head for a few minutes. Love is a fog that blinds the eyes to road signs and can make you crash into a ditch if you're not careful. Listen to your family's impression of your boyfriend, even if you don't like what they have to say on the issue. They have those concerns for a reason and maybe you should hear why (Proverbs 1:8-9). It is usually easier for others to spot his faults than yourself. Granted, they might be overreacting, but wouldn't you if your child was holding a stick of dynamite?
No yard is without weeds and even the best books have at least one typo. No one is perfect; if you are waiting until the perfect man comes you'd better have an ocean of patience, because the perfect man will never come. You have your little quirks and so does he. You sin and so will he. Christ is the soil that causes two plants to grow together. That's why you must be as certain as humanly possible about your fiancé's heart. "Two people who love Christ can also love each other, no matter what their differences" (John MacArthur et al., Right Thing in a World Gone Wrong: A Biblical Response to Today's Most Controversial Issues, page 32). If Christ isn't there, what will hold you together?
The wrong spouse will cause you more pain than being single ever did. I guarantee it will create mental strain, and perhaps even physical hurt if your husband is abusive. But the greatest danger is the temptation to sin. If you live with a skunk, don't be surprised if you start smelling like one. The spouse wields a larger influence in a person's life than friends and family (and you know how easy it is to succumb to their pleas). Solomon is a prime example. He was the wisest man on earth. But even his wisdom could not keep him from falling into his wives' sins (1 Kings 11:1-8). The Israelites married into idolatrous nations and that plummeted them into wickedness (Judges 3:5-6). Blessings can flow from strained marriages (1 Corinthians 7:14), resulting in the salvation of your spouse. But you do not know what's going to happen (v. 16), and why risk your relationship with God to marry a man?
I think it is better not to sit and wait for your prince because "people who make marriage their goal often wind up marrying the wrong person" (John MacArthur, Divine Design, page 110). Wait for him without waiting. Go about your work and keep busy. Sitting in a chair won't make him come any faster. If he comes, hurray! But if not, don't wait up for him. Take each day as it comes. Don't prepare a banquet when you don't know if anyone's attending.
Singleness is no shame, rather it is a highly exalted position. Even though marriage is a high calling, it's not all butterflies and daisies. Singleness is not a barrier to happiness. A Christian can be joyful anywhere, whether they are rich, poor, slave, or free. We have the keys to eternal life and that is a million times better than "true love"! Marriage may be heavenly, but it will not exist in heaven (Matthew 22:30). Marriage will fade away when the last trumpet sounds like other earthly institutions. All Christians shall be single in the end. Remember, "if you are not first satisfied in God alone, you will never find lasting happiness with anyone else" (John MacArthur et al., Right Thing in a World Gone Wrong: A Biblical Response to Today's Most Controversial Issues, page 37). You don't have to marry a prince to be a princess.
"The disciples said to Him, "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.' But He said to them, 'Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.' " (Matthew 19:11-12)
God has a plan for us, whether it is singleness or marriage we don't know, but we can be certain He will bring it to pass. If Prince Charming is sent from God he'll come, even if he has to slay a dragon to reach us. But if God has not sent him, posting "husband wanted" adds won't help.
Marriage is not meant for everyone and neither is singleness. God conditions each person for the road ahead of them. Some people seem destined to be celibate from birth, others are single due to life's circumstances, and some desire to remain single for His kingdom. Whatever the reason, if a person is meant for singleness God will give them the strength for it. "Some Christians aren't married because they have a special gift of God and are uniquely prepared by the Holy Spirit for singleness" (John MacArthur, Divine Design, page 108).
A single girl may feel unwanted at times and long for a man's arms around her shoulders, but overall she'll be happy as she is. When I was younger, I dreamed of getting married and having an army of kids. That desire faded as I grew up and the thought of singleness shone like the sun. What else could I want? But that's the point--those meant to stay single don't want anything else. They know it's the life for them and they accept, love, and cherish it. They may balk and bite at first, but the bitter herbs will transform into honey. They don't want marriage or need it. Their love for God and God's love for them is deeper than the love of man and woman.
The people who are destined for family life are like a toy with batteries not included. But the single already have their batteries installed and don't need anyone to make them run properly. "I often think that those gifted with singleness are possibly the most fulfilled people of all because they don't need someone else to make them complete" (ibid., page 113).
"But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (1 Corinthians 7:9)
It is dangerous to live the life of a single person if you're meant for marriage. A fish taken out of water will die and a person who shouldn't remain single can suffer attacks of sin. You try to choke the desire, but instead it chokes you, leading you to do what you might not ordinarily do. If you have an overwhelming desire in your heart for marriage, pray to God about it. Make sure your desire is genuine, not merely to silence the murmurings of the world about your romantic state. God will provide your prince at the perfect time, granting the strength to resist sin and the patience to wait. If that isn't your calling, then He'll navigate your boat to a better harbor.
Each day the maiden gazes down the road for Prince Charming. So far all that's come is a toad, a turtle, and a chicken who won't lay eggs. She returns to her tower and repeats the waiting process for another 365 days. Waiting polishes patience into a shimmery gold, but who waits for something that might not be coming?
No one knows who or what will come tomorrow (James 4:13-15, Ecclesiastes 8:7). Has God said, "I am preparing a husband for you?"
A knight in shining armor riding a white horse, is every girl's dream. But let's face it, Prince Charming usually ends up being a peasant riding a donkey. I've noticed conservative Christians have a habit of overestimating marriage, training their daughters from childhood to be a mother. Then when Prince Charming takes his time, the girls become so desperate that they mistake a beggar for the prince. However, the world undervalues marriage. Divorces are as common as weddings, and the world thinks it's fine for a man and a woman to live together without saying their vows.
But both circles overrate romantic relationships. A person isn't considered complete until they have a love interest. How often has a friend, coworker, or relative asked, "Been on a date yet?" "People in society and even the church can be insensitive, condescending, and rude toward those who are single by assuming something is wrong with them or they are desperate to get married." (John MacArthur, Divine Design, page 107) Unfortunately people are quicker to play Cupid than solitaire.
"But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband." (1 Corinthians 7:32-34)
Singleness is a gift (v. 7), not a curse. Singleness has as many (if not more) advantages than marriage. Everyone has worries, but when you are married, those worries multiply like tribbles. The celibate are "free from concern" whereas the married have their "interests divided." The hardworking mother has meals to cook, a house to clean, laundry to do, and Tommy just threw a banana at his sister's face. She has too many things to do, not enough time, too many bills, not enough money.
Furthermore, single people don't have anybody competing with their love for God. It's all very fine to make your husband comfortable; making his favorite dishes, dressing attractively, watching television together, etc., as long as you remember it is more important to please God. Marriage is so demanding, making it easy to forget to put God first. The single Christian has no one to please but God. Marriage is not evil, anymore than icing makes a cake taste bad. But there are lots of cakes without icing that taste just as delicious, and sometimes better. "But if you marry, you have not sinned" (v. 28).
Marriage is overflowing with blessings. Married people are rarely lonely and have the opportunity to raise godly offspring. After all, we single people wouldn't exist if it wasn't for our parents' marriage. "Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you" (v. 28). Marriage isn't all sugar and singleness isn't all salt. Both lifestyles have their pros and cons. It is Paul's opinion that a single woman will be "happier if she remains as she is" (v. 40) and that "it is good for them if they remain even as I" (v. 8).
The unmarried can devote more time and effort to their job, friends, and family. The greatest benefit is the extra time they can spend with God. Their prayers and Bible reading lack the distractions of marriage. If someone needs help, they can give it without worrying about neglecting their own family's needs. Because of their singleness, they have the unique opportunity to serve God more exclusively.
The main drawback of the celibate is loneliness. "But you can be single and not be alone. You can have friends, and God will bring people into your life to fulfill your need for companionship. Singleness before Him is a good, honorable, and excellent state" (ibid., page 107). As introvert, I don't have a lot of friends, but I have enough to dissolve the clouds of loneliness. And God has blessed me with a family that will always be there for me, even when my friends have abandoned me.
I honestly believe with Paul that "he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better" (1 Corinthians 7:38).
Mariposa is a self-taught artist who captures the glories of God's creation on canvas. She has a Ph.D. in creativity and a masters degree in imagination.
Aberdeen is a book-eating, ink-drinking dinosaur from the createtus period. When he isn't falling into plot holes or taking cover from the volcano of ideas, he's hanging out with Dee-Dee the doodledactyl. Read full bio