“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23
The person we know as Saint Nicholas (Saint Nick) was born around ad 270 to a wealthy Grecian family. Tragically, his parents died when he was a boy, and he lived with his uncle who loved him and taught him to follow God. When Nicholas was a young man, legend says that he heard of three sisters who didn’t have a dowry for marriage and would soon be destitute. Wanting to follow Jesus’ teaching about giving to those in need, he took his inheritance and gave each sister a bag of gold coins. Over the years, Nicholas gave the rest of his money away feeding the poor and caring for others. In the following centuries, Nicholas was honored for his lavish generosity, and he inspired the character we know as Santa Claus.
While the glitz and advertising of the season may threaten our celebrations, the gift-giving tradition connects to Nicholas. And his generosity was based on his devotion to Jesus. Nicholas knew that Christ enacted unimagined generosity, bringing the most profound gift: God. Jesus is “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). And He brought us the gift of life. In a world of death, He “save[s] his people from their sins” (v. 21).
When we believe in Jesus, sacrificial generosity unfolds. We tend to others’ needs, and we joyfully provide for them as God provides for us. This is Saint Nick’s story; but far more, this is God’s story.
What’s your experience with gift-giving—is it forced or free and joyful? How does Jesus’ life change your notions of generosity?
Dear God, I want to be generous, but I don’t always feel it. Please help me to practice true generosity.
The biblical record includes very little about Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. He’s mainly mentioned in narrative accounts of Christ’s birth. What we do see of Joseph, however, validates God’s wisdom in choosing him for his unique role. He was a man of the Scriptures and a man of grace: “Joseph . . . was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose [Mary] to public disgrace” (Matthew 1:19). He was a law-abiding citizen who made the trek to Bethlehem to register for the census with his pregnant wife (Luke 2:1-5). Finally, not only did he adhere to the laws of God, his heart and ears were open to His leading concerning taking Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:24) and protecting and settling his family (2:13-15, 19-23).