And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10
People often ask whether the stories I use are real. They are. For example, the story for today does not come from the newspaper, but from a brother in the ministry who has asked that neither he, nor his church, be named. We are honoring that request.
The story begins the first week in Advent when this Lutheran congregation puts up a "wishing tree." The tree is filled with requests that have come from parents who don't have the wherewithal to provide Christmas presents for their children. There are a number of guidelines for the giver, but only this request for the recipients: "Presents are limited to three, each with a value of $25 or less. The only exception is a request for one large -- under $75 -- present."
The pastor tells me, with some pride, that every one of those requests was adopted by the parish.
The gifts were purchased and distributed by God's people who were ready to do good to everyone, including those who were not of the household of faith. From the "thank you" responses, many, maybe even all, of the children were delighted with what they received.
But that doesn't mean everyone was grateful.
The morning came when my pastor friend arrived in his office, and the secretary told him he needed to listen to a phone message. He did, and was shocked to hear a parent of two children who had received gifts say, "I don't know how you church people think I can give a real Christmas to my children with only three presents. I think it's disgraceful that you're so cheap!"
At first the pastor was dumbfounded; then he laughed and said, "I guess you can't please everybody." The Lord would agree. From the time Adam and Eve showed their dissatisfaction with God's perfect garden and His perfect love, people have been ungrateful.
The Lord not only gives us all we need to support this body and life, He has also sent His Son into this world to carry our sins and save our souls. And if that were not enough, the Holy Spirit calls people to faith and away from damnation. Now some might readily conclude, "for all of which it is our duty to thank and praise, to serve and obey Him" (see The Small Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther).
But there are others who think the Lord is miserly and a curmudgeon.
Every time something doesn't go their way, every time they encounter a difficulty or are given a cross, they start complaining and grumbling about God and how He just doesn't give them all that they want.
I pray that you, my friends, aren't like that. By God's grace may you always have an attitude of gratitude.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks for all the gifts You bestow upon me: a person who deserves nothing. May I show a faithful spirit of appreciation for the salvation the Savior has won for me. In His Name I ask it. Amen.
P.S. This is the last Christmas devotion for the season. I promise.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries