The holiday season is here, which might mean spending time with a lot of family. We might not know many of them or might not get along with some (or even like them). However, this is when we need to put ourselves aside and realize it’s not all about us. One of my favorite verses I have on my desk is Ephesians 4:31-32: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (NKJV). There are a lot of things about this season that could bring about in us what is listed out in the beginning of the verse. We can’t find a parking spot at the mall. They’re sold out of the only Christmas gift someone on your list wanted. Your relative tells you how nothing is being done right. The one thing you wanted for Christmas wasn’t under the tree. The roads are inundated with tourists visiting their families and have forgotten how to drive. I don’t know about you, but those things would definitely bring out the bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking in me. If someone told me repeatedly how I was doing something incorrectly, especially if I had been planning and working on it for a while, it would hurt my feelings and make me angry. When you don’t get the one thing you wanted, our reaction might be a bit bitter, perhaps. People not using their blinkers creates wrath in me. But we are to put those feelings aside. Put yourself aside. It’s not all about you, which is always hard to hear. 2 Timothy 2:10 tells us, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (NKJV). Paul endured a lot of hardships, and he endured for the sake of the many, that they would see his faith and his steadfastness and see Jesus in it. When we get pushed to the point of bitterness, wrath, anger, etc., we need to take a second and learn from Paul. It’s not all about us. We are enduring the hard things, (the long lines, the snide words, the controlling relatives) for their sake, so they might see Jesus through us. In accordance, Paul calls us to be tenderhearted. See from their view. Try to help them out and make them more comfortable, but not to the detriment of yourself. Be kind and forgive. Don’t hold onto those feelings of anger or bitterness or malice because you feel self-righteous in making them pay by being mean to them. Let it go. It’s not all about you. It’s about being a good example to lead them closer to Christ, and ultimately, it’s all about Jesus. Everything we do reflects on Him. Everything we do should be in line with what He would do. Everything we do should reflect a heart of worship, glorifying God. So when bitterness, wrath, anger, or malice threaten to overcome you, turn your eyes upon Jesus. It’s all about Him, and He will give you the strength to turn the other cheek, to be kind, to keep a tender heart, and to forgive.
Today is Thanksgiving, so many of us are probably going around the table and sharing things we are thankful for, or just reminding ourselves throughout the day all the things we have that we can be thankful for. What are the things that normally come into your mind? I am thankful that I have all my limbs and everything works like it should. I am thankful for a warm house, tons of clothes, food, family. Those are all GREAT things, but they’re all material things. Things that are tangible here on Earth. Something that I have really been meditating on recently is the fact that I think most of the time when we are looking for blessings for God, we expect something material. And why wouldn’t we? We live in the material and tangible. However, most of God’s blessings are intangible. I think we lose sight of those blessings sometimes (other than the big one: Jesus’s sacrifice ending in our saving grace). I was reading in Ephesians 1:3-6 about all the immaterial blessings from God. I was overwhelmed. Hehas blessed us with “every spiritual blessing” (1:3, NKJV), He chose us before Earth was created “that we should be held and without blame before Him in love” (1:4, NKJV). He predestined us for adoption by Jesus unto Himself (v. 5) and has “made us accepted in the Beloved” (v. 6). The chapter goes on to describe the other blessings we have: redemption, forgiveness of sins, His rich grace that abounds to us, an inheritance, and everlasting life. What amazing blessings! What innumerable blessings! What priceless blessings! Too often when I think of God promising blessings throughout the Bible, I think in terms of the material. Money, a good job, a family, a house, etc. and especially blessings I’ve prayed for but haven’t come yet. I seem to unfortunately forget the awesome blessings He has already bestowed and continues to bestow in His great love! When God talks about blessing us in the Bible, this is what He is talking about: the immense spiritual blessings, not the blessings we can see. Our greatest blessing is Him. I encourage you to look through the Word, and today be thankful for all the spiritual blessings God has abounded to us.