“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Choose Your Position
Fence-sitter. Neutral. Middle-of-the-road. Non-committal. You may have heard these phrases used to describe people that don’t want to pick a side. In the extremely polarized society where we currently find ourselves, you might feel like you have to pick your position. You’re either on one side or the other, and neither side wants to consider the other’s perspective. Not picking a side doesn’t feel like an option.
Sometimes, though, we’re forced to sit back and really examine both sides of a situation. This may come about because of a conversation we have with a close friend, a sudden loss we experience, an illness that catches us off-guard, or a quiet moment when God speaks to us in prayer or through His Word. These moments shift our perspective and help us see the middle ground in a situation. It’s here we find understanding and reconciliation.
This holiday season, I encourage you to seek out the space between the “sides” of the conflicts around you. Meet in the middle, at the manger, to make room for what really matters – doing good and seeking Jesus.
Make Room for Doing Good
The old saying goes that you “attract more flies with honey than with vinegar”. In other words, kind gestures and words are going to be far more effective than negativity or aggression in promoting change and growth. The difference between these methods is where your heart is.
Christ’s love compels us to be kind to those around us, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult. Especially right now, with the tensions of COVID-19, political unrest, and social unrest, people are suspicious of you if you’re kind. They wonder if they can trust you. And, of course, the holiday season will inevitably raise tensions as people try to establish a sense of normalcy in a year that has been anything but normal. But don’t get frustrated in serving others and serving God:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunities, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:10)
In this passage, Paul tells us to keep on doing good for those around us, even when it seems like it’s not going to have any benefit at all. We can rest assured that the good we do for all people will have eternal impacts for those around us.
So what does this look like in a practical sense for busy parents during the holiday season? It’s about finding ways you can give your time, talents, and treasures. It can be small things, like an extra hug to your spouse or a smile to a stranger. But it can be bigger than that, too. You can support a family who is struggling financially so they have what they need for the holidays. Maybe, you can provide a meal for a family faced with an illness or other challenge. You could give of your time by serving your community at an event or a food bank. Making room for doing good will have eternal implications for those around you.
Make Room for the Holy Spirit
All good things come from our Heavenly Father. Making room for doing good is only possible because of the spirit of Christ that lives in us. So, as we prepare our homes for the holidays, we can also make room in our schedules and hearts to go to our Father in prayer and devotion.
The holidays are challenging for many of us, and if we’re honest, we might even be dreading them in the never-ending string of complications we’ve faced in 2020. James explains how God uses these challenges for our eternal benefit:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:2-5)
We can gain wisdom and understanding from our circumstances when we look at them as opportunities God has given us to become more spiritually mature. Taking time to pray about these trials and seek God’s will in His Word, even amidst the busyness of the holidays, grows your faith and gives you the wisdom you need to discern your next steps in any situation.
Position Yourself in Love
The holidays are always challenging, especially when the rest of the year hasn’t exactly been ideal. You can’t control much about your environment, but you can choose your position within it.
Choosing a position of love isn’t always easy. When you feel like the world around you is full of negativity, striving for the good can get exhausting. It can seem that the news is all doom and gloom and the people around you are stressed to the brim. When you try to do good, it may not seem like anyone notices or appreciates it. It’s easy to get tired. You feel as if you barely have the energy to care for your family, much less anyone else. You may find yourself allowing the negativity to discourage you from seeking God, even in a season you know is supposed to celebrate God’s gift of salvation through Jesus.
But no matter what else is going on around us, Christmas is still about Jesus. On that first Christmas, our Savior Jesus humbled himself and came to Earth to be with us. He was scorned and shamed, but he showed us mercy and died for us. He made himself subject to God’s justice in our place. In this season and always, the Lord asks us to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). But he knows we won’t always do this perfectly. And yet, he loves us anyway.
This season, let’s position ourselves in this light of love. In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, let’s make room in our lives to invest in and build relationships with the people around us and with our Savior. Because above all else, these are the things that really matter.