The Holiday Season With Friends and Family: Encounter or Opportunity?
Holidays spent with family and friends can be times filled with joy, celebration, conversation, and glorious feasting. Holidays spent with family and friends can also be times filled with sadness, regret, confusion, conflict, and bad fruitcake. Navigating the holidays with others can be filled with delight and difficulty. How do you view the time with family and friends over the holidays? Are they merely encounters to survive, similar to grizzly bear attacks, or are they opportunities to treasure? The holiday season provides unique opportunities to love and serve others sacrificially, and to cultivate in us a heart of humility and Christ-likeness.
In Philippians 2:1–11, the apostle Paul calls the believers at Philippi to unity and humility by pointing to the ultimate example of humility found in Jesus Christ. Stop for a moment right now and meditate on the beautiful description of Christ's humility found in Philippians 2:6–8. Christ, the author life, equal with God, did not consider the rights and privileges of his status something to be used for his own advantage or benefit, but instead he obediently humbled himself to the point of death on the cross for our sake. Christians are called to this same humble mindset in our relationships with others. As we meditate on his glorious humility we should begin to sense both the magnificence and the weight of his call to follow him in humble selfless service to others.
The Good News of Jesus cultivates in us a heart of thankfulness and worship, and it motivates us to set aside our actual or perceived rights in order to willingly, joyfully, and obediently consider others more significant than ourselves.
This Christ–like mindset stands in stark contrast to the self-promotion and self–preservation mindset that’s so prevalent in our world. In light of Christ’s example and our union with him, we are now free to joyfully spend ourselves for the sake of others and expect nothing in return.
How then do we practically cultivate humility in our lives and seize the opportunities to serve family and friends throughout the holiday season?
First, spend some time prior to the holidays meditating on the gospel, confessing pride, and crying out for the Spirit’s help to cultivate in you a heart of humility and a growing and deepening love for him and others.
Next, chose to obediently take every opportunity to serve, love, and care for your family and friends throughout the holiday season.
Instead of debating with them, listen to them. Instead of hating them, love them. Instead of tolerating them, take interest in them. Instead of envying them, rejoice with them. Instead of being annoyed by them, be compassionate and kind towards them. Instead of sitting around and staring at them, be intentional with them. Instead of ignoring them, pray for them!
Pride hinders our opportunities to share Jesus with our family and friends. Humility shows our family and friends Jesus, glorifies God, and by his grace, generates more opportunities to love them, serve them, and point them to Christ. Determine this holiday season to consider times with family and friends as opportunities to love and serve others sacrificially, and to cultivate a heart of humility and Christ-likeness–all for the glory of God and spread of the gospel.