Then Herod, when he saw that he had been outwitted by the wise men, flew into a rage. He gave orders to massacre all the male children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, in keeping with the time he had learned from the wise men. Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be consoled, because they were no more. - Matthew 2:16-18 HCSB

[1] So many innocent children killed for the sake of political expediency! We shake our heads in wonder, not only at the blackness present in the heart of a man who could order such and atrocity, but at the ferocity of soldiers who would carry it out.

Ever since that dark night, the birth of the Christ has been particularly associated with giving gifts to children. It’s almost as if the world has unconsciously decided to assuage its collective guilt over this one unthinkable act.

However, like most attempts to simply pay off guilt, the solution is nearly as bad as the original problem. We shower our kids with piles of gifts, replacing a native and innocent fascination with simple toys and empty boxes with hard-eyed narcissistic materialism. We dig ourselves deeper and deeper into debt each year trying to maintain the appearance of what the world has dictated to be the proper way to celebrate the birth of Christ.

How ironic that the Messiah, who shed all His rights to divinity, came to our world as a servant,[2] was born in a barn[3] and lived His entire life without so much as a house or a personal bed,[4] is celebrated in an orgiastic display of conspicuous consumption!

I’m not advocating that we don’t celebrate or exchange gifts. After all, the giving of gifts is a natural and expected event at the birth of a king. Didn’t the wise men bring gifts?[5] What I am trying to encourage is the development of a careful attitude in regards to presents. We need to be certain that our gifts are actually developing a Christ-like attitude in our children. We need to be certain that we are not building future shopping zombies who think their sole purpose in life is to acquire “stuff.”

How much better it would be to give our children the gift of character, to teach them right from wrong and to develop their ability to choose wisely. How superior is the gift of humility! How wonderful to help them earn money and teach them to give gifts to each other, rather than to simply allow them to passively wait for “Santa” or Mom and Dad to provide everything for them.

Herod killed the innocent children of Bethlehem for the sake of political expediency. Let’s not, for the sake of personal convenience, massacre the innocence of our children.

[1] The Massacre of the Innocents by Rubens

[2] Philippians 2:6-8

[3] Luke 2:7

[4] Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58

[5] Matthew 2:11