As the young man grew, so did his faith. Nicholas had become so like Jesus that when the town needed a bishop, he was elected. The bishop gave much of his wealth to the poor. Stories about his kindness and generosity spread. It was reported that he once saved three girls from a life of degradation by giving each a bag of gold to be used as a dowry to obtain a husband. Many times he would disguise himself and give gifts to poor village children. It seemed there was a special place in his heart for children. They brought such great joy into his life.
He was imprisoned for his faith by Emperor Diocletian, and then released by Emperor Constantine. Even in the midst of persecution and imprisonment, he always shared his meager provisions with the inmates. He believed that giving to the needy was the same as giving to Jesus. After his release he continued his work of giving hope to those in need. In time, he spent his entire inheritance. He died in the year 314. His body later was moved to Italy, where his remains are to this day.
The story of Nicholas has spread around the world. There are more churches named after St. Nicholas than any other person in history. But people have done some strange things to him. The poet Clement Moore gave him a red nose and eight tiny reindeer. Thomas Nast, the illustrator, made him big and fat and even gave him a red suit trimmed with fur. Others have given him names like Belsnick, Kriss Kringle and Santa Claus.
But what is really important to remember during this season is that young Nicholas had the mind of Christ. He did not exploit his privilege but laid it aside. He possessed a servant’s heart and a gentle self-less love that touched the world. The humility of Nicholas has provided us with an example to follow.
Keep this simple message of Christmas with you all throughout the new year: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
This post was written by Pastor Mike Franzone.
Mike works in the Health Initiatives Department at Christian Care Ministry.
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