Last Christmas, the older kids and I watched Fred Claus–a Christmas movie starring Paul Giamatti as Santa Claus and Vince Vaughn as his big brother, Fred. Poor Fred evidently suffers an identity crisis because he is Santa Claus’s brother (who wouldn’t?). The movie culminated in Fred’s big push to eliminate the naughty list. He didn’t think it was fair to the kids. And this premise was demonstrated by the “bad guy” in the movie who tried to shut Santa’s operation down.
The whole reason he was a bad character was because as a child he was on the naughty list and never got the present he wanted. The movie had some funny parts here and there, but for some reason, something inside of me just did not like it. I couldn’t really place what bothered me so much about the movie until I ran across these verses in the Matthew:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straightened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.” Matthew 7:13,14
In our current culture, we don’t want to think of anything like a “naughty list.” We want to live our lives and follow our desires and not want to be reminded that there are moral boundaries to our thoughts and behaviors. We will follow God–as long as He is convenient. But, that’s not following God at all. God sets standards for our behavior, not because He wants to spoil our fun, but because He wants the very best life for us. Over and over in scripture, God lays out wonderful promises of blessings we will receive when we choose to live righteously and follow His leading. And He also gives plenty of warnings of what will happen when we don’t.
Yes, there is a nice list and there is a naughty list. Okay, maybe not a real list, but definitely two different paths you can choose to walk on in life. There are commandments that God set out as a blueprint for our success. Follow the blueprint, and the house will stand firm. You don’t, and like the verse above states, it leads to destruction. It also says that the narrow path is narrow because it is contracted by pressure. Isn’t that just how it is in our lives?
We all go through pressure–some can crack under it and lose their footing, while others persevere and allow that pressure to build their character for more and better. It comes down to the choices we make. Just like our kids at Christmas, God wants to shower us with gifts. But, we can’t choose to live in a way that goes against what God wants for us and expect these blessings to appear in our lives. We have to make the right choices.
And here’s the good news: God wants you on the nice list! He wants to pour blessings into your life. He knows it gets hard to always choose the right move; but seek Him first and He will empower you to do the right thing.
Like Buddy the Elf says, “There’s room for everyone on the nice list!”
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