Imagine you’re in bed on Christmas Eve.

The lights are all extinguished except for the multi-colored glow of the Christmas tree. The gas fireplace is still warm, and the frosting on the cookies is still wet. You’ll sleep easy this holiday, because an influx of new renters has filled your properties and left you with a little extra on the side for Christmas presents.

Somewhere down the hall, your children are sound asleep dreaming of a plump man in a red suit tumbling down the chimney and leaving piles of sparkling gifts beneath the tree. A layer of snow thicker than fresh whipped cream covers the ground. The presents are wrapped, the coffee is on a timer, and the breakfast casseroles are in the fridge.

Life is as it should be.

And then, just as the clock strikes midnight, your doorbell rings.

Your spouse awakens first and punches you in the arm, telling you to find out who it is before the kids wake up. You stumble down the stairs in a half-asleep daze, grabbing a bathrobe on the way to offer some protection against the bitter cold.

On your front porch stand a man and a woman in ragged clothes. The woman is obviously pregnant. The snow falling from the black velvet sky frames them like a Christmas card. A very strange, messy Christmas card.

“We’re so sorry to bother you,” the man says, “but we were wondering if there’s any chance you could give us a place to stay for the night. My wife’s going to have a baby soon, and we don’t have anywhere to go-”

“My properties are all full,” you interrupt before he can say another word. “I wish I could help you, but there’s no room.”

“Please,” the man tries again. “We’ve been all over town. You’re our last hope.”

You try to convince yourself to shut the door and go back to bed. Every other landlord in town turned them away. Why shouldn’t you?

But you can’t. The woman looks like she might go into labor at any minute, and something inside you fights against leaving them out there in the cold. You suddenly remember that shed you built for your garden equipment back in the spring. “I have a tool shed in the back yard. It isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing.”

The man looks like he might pass out from relief.  “Thank you so much!”

You smile and slip on your rain boots. “Come on, I’ll show you the way.”

There aren’t a lot of famous landlords in history, but this one, whose story is drawn from the second chapter of the book of Luke in the Bible, is one of the shining examples. This Christmas, I hope we can all show our tenants the kindness this man did—and who knows? We may be doing something far greater than we know.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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