This morning in Sunday School, I introduced the kids to the real Santa Claus; a pastor named Nicholas, who lived in Myra, Turkey (then the Eastern Roman Empire) in the 4th century.
Nicholas was passionate about his faith, and giving himself up to save his congregation, was imprisoned and tortured for it. In an age when many great theologians are remembered for their eloquent words, he was remembered for his courageous acts: defending the innocent and self-sacrificial generosity. In fact, paradoxically, when so many men and women have sought to make a name for themselves at any cost, his simple acts of anonymous generosity ensured that his name has been honored continuously for 1,700 years.
On Dec. 6th, many Christians all over the world will honor the real man behind the modern myths. On that day, I encourage everyone to think of a creative, simple act of "guerrilla generosity." Give in a way that is anonymous, but which is meaningful to those around you.
For kids, it could be buying easy-to-make cookies and sneaking downstairs before your mom wakes up to bake them, and leave a note saying you love them. For adults, it could mean secretly shoveling your neighbor's walks, or putting together a gift basket and anonymously leaving it on the doorstep of a poor family or widow in the neighborhood.
In doing so, we remember that little acts of kindness change the world, and we honor the man who lived Jesus' words in Matthew 6:2-4: "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you," (NIV).
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