Revelation 3:5 (New Living Translation)
All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce them before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
Like Santa, we each have our personal Naughty or Nice list. We evaluate people according to how they’ve treated us and let our feelings determine how we think about them. We count ourselves justified in treating people differently depending on where their names appear on our list. Those who have treated us well receive our kindness and generosity; those who have offended us receive a cold shoulder and critical words.
God, too, has a Naughty or Nice list. Unlike us, however, he is not guided by his wounded feelings but by his holy standards of righteousness. As much as we don’t want to admit it, we each find ourselves on the Naughty side, no matter how good we think we are or how hard we try to please him.
Christmas celebrates God’s tender heart toward us. Jesus was born into our midst to teach us what it really means to be Nice, and then he died so that our names could be forever removed from the Naughty side. We are covered with the righteousness of Christ and treated as royal sons and daughters of the kingdom. Instead of a lump of coal, God gives us the love and forgiveness we could never earn on our own. In place of defeat and eternal damnation, he gives us the comfort his Spirit and the hope of eternal life with him.
FATHER, thank you for the gift of Jesus! Thank you for reaching out to me when I was so lost I could never find my way to you on my own. Help me to realize my unworthiness to be counted Nice by your holy standards and to appreciate the love signified by your forgiveness of my sins. I offer you my personal Naughty or Nice list. Give me grace by your Spirit to treat every person with the same generosity and forgiveness I receive from you.
Romans 3:10-12; Revelation 20:11-15
Who figures high on your Naughty list? What might be a first step toward forgiving this person?