(originally written December 1, 2007)
The holiday season is upon us and with it comes all of the joy and excitement of family gatherings, gift giving and cherished traditions. It's an unfortunate reality that not all families look forward to this season with joyous anticipation. Some simply dread this time of year. Strained family relationships have left little room for the joy of the season. Does this ring true for you?
I awoke this morning with the following verse on my heart: Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (KJB)
Noah Webster had this to say about the word 'peacemaker': a person who makes peace, as by settling disagreements or quarrels. Digging a little further, 'peace' is defined as: harmony, serenity, calm, quiet.
What is often mistaken as peace is nothing more than a truce (a temporary cessation of warfare; respite from conflict). Now granted, I do understand that a truce is better than conflict but God only promises blessing to the peacemaker, NOT the truce maker.
Let me give you an example. My middle child, 'G' is our little peacemaker. I often will thank her for it; she makes my life so much easier. How? Well, her twin sister 'M' is quite mischievous. G will often be found laying down her rights to her sister, who has taken a toy or stolen her seat or some other annoying little thing. Sure, they squabble a bit but usually, instead of tattling, G will simply give in.
This used to bother me because it seemed she was being walked over by her "little" sister. Then I realized that without even knowing it, she was doing exactly what the Lord wanted her to do. She was following the perfect example ~ Jesus himself.
Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Did Jesus deserve to be a servant? Did he deserve the cross? Of course not but He laid down His life for a greater purpose, our salvation. And in the same manner, G gives up her rights for a greater cause....peace.
When we look at the word peace maker, we could just as easily flip the words to say maker [of] peace. Make is an verb that requires action. It's not something that just happens. Likewise, peace is not just something that happens, we need to 'make' it.
So, how can you be a peace maker this holiday season? Here are some suggestions:
- Ask yourself if in the grand scheme of things, does this really matter? Does it matter who is right or wrong? Unless you are dealing with a doctrinal issue pertaining to heaven and hell or a moral issue that affects your family, the answer is probably "NO". So many contentions come down to our stinking PRIDE. We know we're right and won't rest until everyone else knows it too. We simply refuse to surrender our right to be right. Confess your pride and let Christ be your example. He humbled himself.
- Don't argue in the first place. Simply learn to seal those lips and stop flapping your tongue Oh, how I know this is easier said than done!
- Give in. I know it's not popular in our "I deserve my rights" society but you can't have peace when neither party is willing to bend. Be the "bender" and be blessed!
- Realize that being right isn't always the most important issue. Is splitting a family over whose mashed potatoes are tastier really worth it?
- Choose to let the Lord handle the problem. He always does a better job than we do anyway!
Now before anyone uses this as a reason to excuse sin, I do not believe in peace at any cost. Peace at any cost is not peace, it's compromise. However, there are just some things that you will never change people's minds about. I've encountered this myself and my husband finally said to me, "K, if God can't change their hearts, nothing you say is going to." And that is so true. God must do the work because only then will it be a permanent change.
There will always be people who like to fan the flames of discord, even if it's only subtly but the Lord knew that. That is why He wrote:
Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Just do your best. The Lord knows your heart and you are only responsibly for YOU. I hope this encourages you to go out and make this holiday season the best that you can. Life is too short to live it in discord.
May God bless your Christmas season as you seek to honor Him!
© Adorning Grace 2011