The Season of: giving, receiving, exchanging. What will we give those who are special on our list? Perhaps we should think about what we would exchange before we shop for them.
Maybe we should exchange . . .
Grudges for a Robe of Forgiveness. Colossians 3:3 says to “bear with one another and forgive as Christ forgave you.” You say they haven’t asked for forgiveness? Had you asked for Christ’s forgiveness before He died on the cross for your sins? Of course not; we weren’t even around then. Yet, He died for those we had yet to commit. He initiated it. Forgiveness needs to be initiated. How? Pray for those who persecute you it says in Matthew 5:44; bless them and don’t curse them in Luke 6:28; and don’t take revenge but leave room for God in Romans 12:14. Jesus said as He hung on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Release them from their debt. Who do you need to forgive today?
Rejection for Slippers of Acceptance. Romans 15:7 says, “Accept one another as Christ did to bring praise to God.” Is there someone you have secretly “rejected”? You may be smiling on the outside, but inside you are defiant and aloof. How do you accept a person? Think about what it is that may be rubbing you the wrong way—why are they like that? Is there a reason for their behavior: abandoned by parent, spouse, have they been hurt by someone they trusted? Do they put up a strong facade to hide their pain? Can you accept their greatest fault, knowing that you have been accepted by Jesus, faults and all? We need to separate the sin which we hate from the sinner, whom we need to love.
Critical Spirit for Encouragement. First Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Encourage one another and build each other up.” The odor of a critical spirit can overpower the fragrances of cedar, candles and potpourri. Do you see the negative before you’re able to celebrate another’s accomplishments? The words we speak to others can knock them down or build them up. Ephesians 4:29 says our words should build up so it will benefit the hearer. A patient attitude is another way to encourage someone; not rolling the eyes or putting hands on our hips and tapping our foot! First Corinthians 13 says love is patient and kind. Time spent with others is encouraging and selfless when we consider them more important than we do ourselves (Phil. 2).
Disrespect for Honor/Respect. “Honor one another above yourself” (Rom. 12:10). When you speak about that person, be sure that it is honoring to them and uplifting. Do you have an attitude that shows what you’re thinking long before you say it? Are you venting your frustrations on someone because you aren’t happy or in a good mood? Or do you show honor and respect to them for who they are and who they can be?
Neglect for a Portrait of Memories. First Thessalonians 3:6 says, “We always have pleasant memories of you.” Instead of just through a family photograph, how will they remember you years from now? Proverbs 10:7 says, “The memory of the righteous will be a blessing.” Schedules aren’t always set in concrete, we are not always guaranteed a long life, and time is fleeting both for a young family and for older relatives.
Many years ago I asked my grown children about their memories of holidays at home, and Christmas in particular. Do you know what they remembered? Not necessarily the “events” I planned as great memory makers, like seeing The Nutcracker or caroling. No, their favorite memories were helping me make cookies and getting to do it themselves, taking out each ornament they had made and retelling the story of it. It meant a lot to them to realize I had kept each one and still hung them up because they told me some of their friends’ moms wouldn’t put the homemade ones on the tree or would put them way in the back. Who knew? It was what I would have called “the little things” that made their list. It was making Christmas fruit baskets for families we knew were hurting, and decorating ice-cream cones with styrofoam balls with angel hair and gold trim. Or it was the Advent wreath that we lit every year while we told the story of the angels, the shepherds, the Bethlehem candle, and the Christ child candle.
Gloria Gaither said, “We have this moment to hold in our hand, as it slips through our fingers like sand . . . yesterday’s gone, tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.” Use every moment you can to spread the joy to your family, your friends and community.
When Christmas is over there will be crumbs on the carpet, wrapping paper torn to pieces, tinsel tangled in light strings . . . but the Real Gift, Jesus, will remain eternally. He is the Light of the World, Immanuel, God with us! Bless those you will give gifts to with Forgiveness, Acceptance, Encouragement, Honor, and sweet Memories.
Blessings to you and your loved ones from ours!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How do you show forgiveness to those closest to you? Do you wait to hear them ask for forgiveness?
Have you subconsciously rejected someone that you need to exchange for acceptance? If so, how will you show acceptance?
Play back the last 48 hours in your mind. Is there someone who needed encouragement, but you were critical of instead? How can you change that?
What has your speech said about how you honor and respect others? Make a plan to intentionally show respect to those in your home.
Think about this Season. . . . How can you make precious memories that will last? How will you celebrate our Lord’s birth?