I know you have a list and are checking it twice, but by and large I've been a good girl this year. I'm sure I don't really deserve to be on the naughty list. So can you please, please send me a new car, a lot more money than I have right now, and a good man? Amen.
P.S. Oh, and can you hurry it up a bit? Thanks.
Salvation is a free gift, but everything else has to be earned, right? After all, just like Santa Claus, God only gives nice things to those who have accumulated enough brownie points.
At least, that's what I realized I'd fallen into thinking.
I was journaling through some prayers, pouring out my heart to God and asking Him for something in one sentence, but in the next sentence agonizing over how I really didn't deserve such a gift anyway and hence I didn't expect to receive it. And suddenly I stopped short. What was I thinking about God?!
I began to write: "Do I really believe that any good I receive is because I deserve it somehow? That any time God gifts me is because I've ticked all the right boxes? That for God to bring something into my life I have to bribe Him with good behavior? Ouch."
God doesn't work that way. He is not some Santa Claus figure, weighing up my good deeds and my bad deeds before deciding whether I go on the Naughty or Nice list, and thus deciding whether I should receive any good gifts or answered prayers.
God is someone who loves to give and gives because He loves.
Over and over again in my Bible study this year, verses about the goodness and abundance of God have jumped out at me. He promises that those who seek Him will not lack any good thing (Psalm 34:10). He "deals bountifully" with His people (Psalm 13:6), and brings them to "rich fulfillment" (Psalm 66:12). He promises that I can be "abundantly satisfied" with the "fullness" of His house (Psalm 36:8).
And all of this is simply because of who He is. Not because of anything I've done to be placed on a Naughty or Nice list.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You. You crown me with lovingkindness and tender mercies. Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.
(From Psalms 36, 103, 107)
Thank you to Tamara Naja for giving me the suggestion and inspiration for this post.