Sitting in the living room the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and me were enjoying some hot apple cider tea and listening to some Christmas music. The song came that referred to Santa’s nice list and naughty list. I was not paying too much of attention, but somebody else in the room was.
“Do you think you are on,” my wife said rather sarcastically, “Santa’s nice list or naughty list?”
I always get trapped by such questions. I have been married long enough to know that questions are not posed to get an answer, but rather to get someone in trouble, mainly me.
I did not want to answer that question and I didn’t know how to get away from it. Suddenly the answer came to me.
The telephone rang and I jumped up to answer it. It was some Robo call trying to sell me something I did not want. I took advantage of the situation and carried on a one-way conversation, hoping someone would forget the question they had asked previously.
Finally, I hung up the phone and resumed drinking my hot apple cider tea in the living room.
Then it came back again. “Well, are you on the nice list or the naughty list?”
This only points out the difference between us. Nice is really a matter of perspective. Some people think something is nice while other people think the same thing is naughty.
For instance. My wife thinks eating too many apple fritters is very naughty. I think you cannot eat too many apple fritters and it is really nice to eat one. Or two. Or three, or four.
I cannot see what naughty has to do with eating an apple fritter.
If eating an apple fritter puts me on Santa’s naughty list, then I gladly apply for that position.
After all, everybody sets out cookies for Santa to eat when he brings the presents. What is the difference between a cookie and an apple fritter?
I think my wife will be surprised when at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven there will be apple fritters for dessert.
Then there is the idea of organizing your mess.
According to the other resident in our home, organizing and cleaning up after yourself is nice. If you do not do that, it is naughty.
I sure would like to know who set those rules. I think if your mess is comfortable and you are happy with it, it should be nice.
If she thinks organizing her space is nice, then why can’t she allow me the same privilege to think that my messy space is also nice?
It is all just a matter of perspective.
Then it is Christmas time and people should be able to indulge in certain activities that at another time may be naughty.
One of my holiday indulgences is eating.
A bunch of us gathered to have a Christmas dinner before the actual Christmas holiday and we had a merry time. I was enjoying myself and indulging in the luxury of eating everything set before me.
Someone was passing a pumpkin pie and asked if I wanted another piece of pie. I’ve already had three pieces of pie, but this is the time of the year to indulge. Before I could even process the word “yes,” my better half jumped in and said, “No, he’s had enough pie for tonight.”
Her definition of “enough pie” is a little different from mine. My definition is, “Yes, I’ll take one more piece.” It does not matter how many pieces I have had up to that point, one more is always on my plate. That is what makes eating pie nice for me.
Her idea of being on a diet is to watch what you eat. That’s nice in her regard.
My idea of being on a diet is to watch what I put in my mouth. That’s nice in my regard.
“So,” my wife said after a long pause, “are you on Santa’s nice list or naughty list?”
“That all depends,” I said rather slowly, “on your definition of nice and naughty.”
What I think is nice for me may not be nice for someone else. And what someone else thinks is naughty I may not consider to be naughty at all. It is all just a matter of perspective.
Then a thought popped into my head.
“Are you referring to Santa’s list or to your list?”
For once, she had nothing to say. She just looked at me and could not come up with a comeback. Now that’s nice.
I believe Paul had this in mind when he writes, “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
The question needs to be restated; are we on God’s nice list or God’s naughty list?
To please God in everything I do is the great ambition of my life. I know that I cannot please God and other people at the same time.
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores.