Saint Nicholas: A Fighter for Truth, a Generous Giver

December 6 is the church feast day of Nicholas, third-century bishop of Myra. He is the historical model for today’s Santa Claus. While Santa is a commercial creation, Nicholas is a real role model for today. The real historical Nicholas embodied a combination of generosity and faith lived out in works.

Giving Expresses Faith

Tradition indicates his parents were wealthy and died in an epidemic. Raised in the church by his uncle, a bishop, Nicholas devoted his life to the Lord’s service. He had a reputation for generosity, leaving coins in children’s shoes parked on door steps, and endowing girls who needed money to be wed or else be sold into slavery. In Nicholas, the biblical truth that giving is an expression of faith is clear. This gift of generosity is what turned St. Nick into Santa Claus.

Faith Without Works is Dead

What you may not know about Nicholas is his struggle for the faith. He was invited by Emperor Constantine to be a participant in the first ecumenical council, convened in Nicea in A.D. 325 to combat the heresy of Arianism. Arius was under fire for promoting the heretical view that Christ was a created being, and not co-eternal with the Father. Nicholas was one of the bishops who stridently defended the orthodox position of Christ’s divinity and co-eternality with the Father. In fact, Nicholas was so appalled at Arius’ statements declaring Christ to be a created being that Nicholas reared up and punched him in the course of the proceedings. Now that’s what I call expressing your faith!

Faith Must be Rooted in Truth

Nicholas did not equivocate on theological truth in the name of tolerance or brotherhood or understanding. He rightly saw his mission as a man of God to defend the One True Faith and that Truth centers on a correct view of who Christ is and what he has done for us. We know Christ through the Scriptures. The more closely we study Scripture the more we come to know Christ. The more we love Christ the more we ought to seek to know Him through His Word. Christ, Scripture, Truth: a simple formula, really.

The test for our preachers and teachers today is the same as it was in Nicholas’ day. The true teachers are those who seek Christ and find him in the Bible and preach Christ through the Word.Those teachers who ignore the Bible and teach a Jesus of their own imaginations are nothing less than false teachers.

In Nicholas, the biblical truth that giving is an expression of faith is clear. This gift of generosity is what turned St. Nick into Santa Claus.

Putting Teachers to the Test

Finally, true teachers are, like Nicholas, motivated by serving others, and by generosity. Too many popular teachers today are on the money-making book-selling wagon, building million-dollar homes and claiming they are gifts from God. I’m sure if Saint Nicholas paid a visit to their ministry mansions he’d hand them a Bible and threaten them with a well-deserved old-fashioned St. Nick beat down.

Nicholas lived out his faith by giving generously and selflessly and by defending the biblical truth about Christ. Hail, St. Nicholas!

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