Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"i'm telling you why"

"you better watch out
you better not cry
you better not pout
i'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town"

catchy little jingle, isn't it? i'm sure i learned it at Christmastime when i was very young, maybe 3 or 4. as a child who really wanted a great Christmas, with lots of presents under the tree with my name on them, i took those lyrics to heart. Santa was watching me! he sees me when i'm sleeping and knows when i'm awake! so i better be good, for goodness sake.

now i am grown and i know the truth about Santa Claus and about Christmas. and as a parent who really wants to teach her children the truth and keep the focus on Jesus, this catchy little jingle is simply confusing things.

that innocent children's Christmas song recently prompted yet another conversation with my 4-year-old son about Santa and Jesus and Christmas. the lyrics imply good behavior means a good Christmas, and that Santa rewards only well-behaved children with presents. inspired by the character of Santa Claus himself, the song motivates kids to behave in the days leading up to Christmas to get on Santa's "nice" list.

and then what? Christmas comes and the kids get their presents and everyone is happy. but what about the rest of the year? teach my children to share and be kind and clean up after themselves and use their manners and do unto others because Santa is watching? no.

it's Christmas and i have to teach my children the truth. they are young and learning, this is foundation-building time. i want them to be nice and good because God wants them to be nice and good. the Bible lays out exactly how God wants us to behave and spells out clearly His commands for us to live an abundant life in His love. our reward isn't under the Christmas tree brought to us by the big guy on a sleigh - it's in the promise of eternity brought to us by a loving Savior! 

the Bible is full of hows and whys. here are just a few scriptures i use for teaching my children why to have good behavior:

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you...
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, 
do not demand it back. 
Do to others as you would have them do to you. 
Luke 6:27-31

Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, 
his laws and his commands always. 
Deuteronomy 11:1

If they obey and serve God, 
they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity 
and their years in contentment. 
Job 36:11

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, 
but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 
Romans 2:13

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 
Ephesians 6:1

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 
Whoever says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, 
and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, 
love for God is truly made complete in them.
1 John 2:3-5

you won't hear us threatening our kids with coal in their stocking or nothing under the tree if they don't behave, don't take a good nap, don't share the Legos, or don't eat all of their vegetables. instead, i'll be speaking God's Word into their hearts, praying for them, and claiming what i want for their lives.

Christmastime offers an opportunity to clear things up between Santa and Jesus, Christmas song lyrics and God's Word. it's my responsibility to teach my children how to behave and why to behave. unlike Santa, God doesn't keep a list of who's naughty and nice. our God is a God of forgiveness, grace, redemption, salvation, and unconditional love. 

so when the song plays, "you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, i'm telling you why" my kids know it's not because Santa Claus is coming to town. it's because we want to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. yes. i'm using worldly song lyrics to teach my children that Jesus is not only the reason for the season, but also the why.

photo credit: nettsu via photopin cc