Who's On Your Christmas List?

. .

Who are you giving gifts to this Christmas?

Who will benefit from your generosity?

Have you made your list . . . checked it twice . . . to find out who has been naughty or nice?

Does your list include. . .your spouse , children, grandchildren, parents, brothers, sisters, pastor, school teachers, co-workers, best friends or neighbors?

Did you remember everybody on the list? Are you sure? Did you remember everybody on God's list? Yes, He has a list.

James 1:27 says:

“External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.”

Wait. . .are there widows and orphans on your list?

Sadly, in our contemporary society . . .too many people only exchange gifts with those in their “circle of life”. . .to borrow a term from the movie, “The Lion King.”

What does the Word of God say is pure religion? Is it speaking in tongues, laying hands on the sick, prophesying to the church or soul winning?

No. All of these are important but they’re not what the scripture calls pure religion. Pure religion is caring for the widows and orphans in their affliction and not letting the World sway your belief system. Is this caring a part of your belief system?

The New Living Translation of James 1:27 says:

“Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil.”

The way I read the scriptures . . . helping the widows and the orphans is not optional. Rather it is the example of Christian love and compassion we show the world.

In fact, God is pretty serious about how we treat the widows and orphans. God even ordained certain laws to protect the widows and orphans.

Exodus 22:22 says:

“Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.”

In Proverbs 19:17 in the King James Version, the scripture says:

He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”

And again in Proverbs 21:13 the King James Version says:

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.”

I’d say that God is fairly serious in His desire for His children to care for the widows and orphans.

One of the goals of the women’s movement in the 1960s was to dispel the notion that women were weaker and should be supported by their husbands. As a result laws began to change . . .the number of two-income families has risen and women are expected to be self-supporting even with children.

This put the burden on women with children to be less nurturing and more of an income producer. In addition, to have a successful home, the father now needs to come home and help do all the things that neither parent could do because they were both out working all day.

As divorce rates have risen. . .there is a generation of children being raised by single mothers hopefully with the help of supporting father. The reality is that many people have adapted to a two-income lifestyle which is virtually impossible to maintain after a divorce or death.

In the case of death, hopefully there is a life insurance policy that will provide transitional, if not, permanent income for the widow and her fatherless children. Coming from two incomes, the standard of living they are accustomed to will undoubtedly be lowered with the new circumstances.

In a divorce, the amount of child support is rarely sufficient to maintain the previous lifestyle. A well-educated woman with a high paying job may be able to help maintain the financial status but she is now called upon to carry the entire load of mom and dad in the home.

However, the woman who was previously, a homemaker finds herself thrust into the work force just to survive. Tragically, in the case of both women, there is a lack of time to properly nurture the children. So in many ways, these children become orphans because the father is no longer in the picture and the mother is always at work trying to make ends meet.

The scriptural admonition to care for the widows and orphans is as real today as it was in biblical times and now we add in women with children left on their own. By the way, the Lord’s instruction to care for the widows and orphans isn’t just at Christmas time.

Local churches can help with benevolence funds, child care, financial counseling, mechanic and handyman services (lawn care, home repair, etc). It is best that these type activities be coordinated through your local church. . .to make sure that everything is done decently and in order.

Truthfully, one of the greatest services you can render to a single mother is to allow her some time to herself. Take her kids with yours to the park or on a family activity with your family . . . it will give her some down time. Even mothers who have the help of the father need down time . . . how much more a single mom?

Many churches now offer “Mother’s Day Out” programs which are a really blessing to mothers, single or otherwise.

How does God feel about people who ignore the needs of widows and orphans?

Malachi 3:5 in the New Living Translation says:

“At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

I think the scripture is quite clear about our responsibilities to help the widows and orphans.

I remember some years back my fine wife, Bev, and I selected ten single mothers in our church. . .put money in an envelope and mailed it to them before Christmas. We did not place our name or return address on the envelope or letter and these women had no idea where the money was coming from.

We overheard one of them talking about what she called “the miracle gift” in the mail. . .the money coming in just in time for her to buy some medicine for her son.

There are a variety of ways to care for the widows and orphans . . . especially this time of year.

If your church has a toy/clothing drive for single mothers/widows or orphans/fatherless children. . .make sure you add them to your Christmas list.

John 13:35 in the Amplified Bible says:

“By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].”

Would you like to have God as a permanent resident in your neighborhood? Then you MUST care for the widows and orphans.

Carefully read what Jeremiah 7:3 says in the Message Bible:

"'Clean up your act—the way you live, the things you do—so I can make my home with you in this place. Don't for a minute believe the lies being spoken here—"This is God's Temple, God's Temple, God's Temple!" Total nonsense! Only if you clean up your act (the way you live, the things you do), only if you do a total spring cleaning on the way you live and treat your neighbors, only if you quit exploiting the street people and orphans and widows, no longer taking advantage of innocent people on this very site and no longer destroying your souls by using this Temple as a front for other gods—only then will I move into your neighborhood. Only then will this country I gave your ancestors be my permanent home, my Temple.”

I’m not interested in whether Santa Claus thinks I’m been naughty or nice but I definitely want our great God Jehovah to know, not think, but know that I’ve obeyed His instructions to care for the widows and the orphans.

So let me ask you one more time . . . who’s on your Christmas list?