An Unlikely Holiday Application of Paul’s Wisdom

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“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

I don’t know about you, but this verse immediately brings the holiday season to my mind. No, it’s not reminiscent of the perfect baby-in-a-manger scene, but it is certainly applicable to my experiences with family at Christmas gatherings. Maybe not obviously so, but I see this verse as Paul’s reminder for us to choose joy… especially during this holiday season.

Paul says it himself, we all experience similar scenarios: those cringe-worthy moments when a relative makes an entirely inappropriate or offensive remark. For me, it’s almost always my German grandmother who seems to have no boundaries… and her accent makes everything seem ten times more harsh. Or it’s my younger brothers who feel that, now that they have an audience, the holidays are a good time to try out their witty insults. No matter who it’s coming from, I decide whether to bite my tongue or sling back an equally insulting retort.

Trust me, I’m the first to admit, I can come with some pretty nasty comments. I often joke that I “have no filter,” as if it’s cute or funny… But one of the biggest things I struggle with– especially around my family and during this time of year– is thinking before I speak and biting my tongue when I feel personally attacked. I do so much more damage than is necessary.

It’s tempting to forget the pain antagonizing comments cause and pridefully retaliate. The devil lures us to treat others as they have treated us, to abandon gentleness and compassion. And (from experience) when we respond to cruelty with more cruelty, we end up looking insensitive, impatient, or just mean.

“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:28

When I actively choose to be “wise,” saying something kind or nothing at all, I save others hurt and lowered self-worth. Living in a family who avidly practices what we call “tough love,” this can be such a challenge. However, I know God has not made it impossible for me. So lately, I’ve started practicing saying a prayer before or during situation where I may be put down. I pray that rather than giving others “a taste of their own medicine,” I choose to love them and show them the joy.

When I give it up to God, I am overwhelmed with patience and mercy for others. The Joy of the Lord triumphs pride, hurt, offense, and temptation.

It’s easy to say, “Joy to the world!” and acknowledge that the holidays are supposed to be a time of joy… But let’s get real. The busy and stressful holiday season often wears us out. Joy is not as simple as a Christmas carol or a holiday banner. Joy is a decision.

So when you’re faced with mud-slinging relatives, or just feeling bogged down from the holiday “hustle and bustle,” let’s just look to the words of Paul. Don’t be tempted to lash out. Remember that God won’t put you in a situation you are unequipped to handle (with love and joy). And “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12

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