Wait a minute. "The Little Drummer Boy" was a religious song. Sort of. And "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" are pretty generic. But what is a song about Santa doing amongst a series of devotionals on Christmas Carols?

That's what I said, too, when God put this particular Christmas Carol on my heart: "Nope, it's 100% a secular song. No lessons for Christians in that one!"

Immediately the words to the entire song came to my mind, and I realized that there is, indeed, a vital message in this silly tune. And not just for followers of Jesus either! The message is for everyone!

First, let's take a look at the words:

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

"He's making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out
Who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town

"He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!"

Still don't the spiritual lesson in this song?

Throughout the world, Christmas has been overcome by commercialism. You mention Christmas, and most children don't think of the Christ child at all. They think of the mystical man in a red coat who travels around the world exactly at midnight between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, bringing presents to good boys and girls!

As I was reading the lyrics to this song, it occurred to me how much like Santa Claus many Christians see God to be!

And partly this is true. God does know when we're sleeping, He does know when we're awake! He does know when we've been bad or good, and He knows good and well who's naughty and who's nice!

To take it a step farther, Santa is known to reward children for their good behaviour and punish them for their poor conduct. The only problem is, none of us are "good"! "For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." (Rom 3:22-24) and our "good deeds" are like filthy rags! "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags..." (Isa 64:6 NKJV) It's a good thing Santa isn't real, because if he were, no one would get anything for Christmas!

Praise God He is not Santa Claus. He does not reward us by what we deserve, but rather, by the merit of His Son, Jesus Christ: "But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:4-7 NKJV)

We're the winners, folks! And it's not by being "nice" or "good"! It's by the goodness and niceness of Jesus! Praise God!

Friends, Santa isn't going to come to town, but God will! And if we're covered by the blood of Jesus, we don't need to worry about that visit! Let’s remember that it isn't about what we do and don't do. It's about what Jesus already did, and when we accept His gift of righteousness, then we've accepted the best Christmas present possible.

But wait a moment. There are many Christians who see God as Santa Claus for yet another reason: The song says, "He's making a list and checking it twice!"

How many of you, as children, ever wrote a letter to Santa Claus?

Most letters to Santa go something like this:

"I've been a very good boy/girl this year. Here is the list of things I'd like for Christmas..."

How many of us, now that we're a little older, pray to God in a similar fashion?

"Dear God, I've tried really hard today to not lie or cheat or think bad thoughts today. God, please help me to get a better job! And help my son to get a good grade on his exam. Oh, and God, mom has cancer. Would you heal her please?"

I don't know how many times I've heard people say, "God has abandoned me! Otherwise I wouldn't have all these problems! Friends, when we think things like this, we are, indeed, treating God like Santa Claus! God never promised us a rosy life. He never said there wouldn't be problems! Instead He promises us something oh, so much better! He promises to help us through these problems, and He'll help us to grow on the way!

Oh, and though God tells us, "Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." (John 16:24
), what God desires most is to have a relationship with us! He wants to be part of our lives! He wants us to love Him and trust in His unfailing love, and like any loving parents, out of the love of His heart, He will give!

Friends, God is not like Santa! Halleluiah! And this is what this silly song, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" has to teach us today!

Please join us on Christmas Day for the fifth and final part of Lessons From Christmas Carols, Part 5: Jingle Bells!

In His love,


Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.

(To access the entire "Lessons From Christmas Carols" mini-series, please click here.)