For many, the holidays are filled with bickering, feuds, and family tension. Wouldn’t you like to spend the season focused on God, enjoying peace and harmony, and sharing God’s gift of love with others? Well, there’s something we can do to help make it happen, but we blow past it.
I don’t know about you but I get sucked into my usual holiday prep: Cleaning and preparing my home for guests. Preparing food for family gatherings. Scrambling for gifts. Stringing lights and hanging decorations. And I neglect the most important prep of all: heart preparation.
Here are three things we can do to prepare our hearts for a God-focused, peace-filled holiday:
- Consecrate our heart to God. (Joshua 24:15) First, offer your heart to God for His purposes during the holidays. Focus on Him and all He’s provided for you. It sure beats stewing in a pot of “me” and what I believe others owe me, what I think I need, or how I want to spend the holidays. A heart focused on selfishness, grudges, or resentment can’t be used by God to bless others.
- Clean out the clutter. Identify the clutter that has accumulated in your heart. Heart clutter might include guilt over past offenses, grudges for hurts inflicted on us, resentment towards others (or God), greed stemming from a spirit of competition with others for their possessions or accomplishments. Just as we clean our homes, we must clear out our hearts. What clutter is clogging your heart?
- Guilt? Still feeling bad about an unresolved issue in a relationship? Ask God to help you identify why you feel guilty. Do you need to ask for forgiveness? Then do it and commit the results to Him. We’re responsible to seek forgiveness when we’ve wronged another, not for the response of the recipient.
- Grudges? God doesn’t play around with grudges. He commands—yes commands (Matthew 6:14-15)—us to follow Jesus’ example and forgive others from our heart no matter what they’ve done. (Luke 23:34) (Luke 6:27-36) Jesus focused on loving and giving, not on what He thought “others owed” Him.
- Greed and Jealousy? We can fall into a “God owes me” mentality. But God owes you and me nothing–yet gave us everything. (Ephesians 1:3-9) What grace! Both greed and jealousy breed an “all about me, “others owe me,” and an “I’m a victim of my circumstances or finances” focus. Greed makes us takers instead of givers, and jealousy rots relationships. Both communicate ingratitude to God and emit an aroma that repels others. Yuck! (Hebrews 13:5)
- Commit to focusing on others. Ask God for His perspective of others, especially of those difficult people you face across the holiday table. (Romans 12:18) My post “3 Steps to Peace Under Pressure” covers this in detail. Ask God to draw your focus off your needs and show you how to best meet the needs of others. How you can make others feel loved and welcome?
Preparing our hearts to receive and share God’s gift of love is the key to a Christ-filled holiday season. And isn’t that what we all want?
So before a single guest walks through our door, let’s start by preparing our hearts and become God’s instruments of love and peace in our holiday season.
What will you do to bring peace into your holiday season this year?