Holiday Etiquette

Cathy Hurtado

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."  Ephesians 4:29-32

The holidays are upon us, and for many, these extended family gatherings can be challenging.  There’s the tendency to revert to our old patterns of behavior, being challenged or ridiculed for our faith and, or simply being exposed or exposing our children to behavior and entertainment that is not edifying or downright hurtful and sinful.

We have no control over other people’s behavior, and if one doesn’t know Jesus, ungodly behavior is what comes from an unsaved heart.  In fact, they are not even capable of godly behavior so don’t be shocked when they act like an unbeliever.  The challenge for us in these situations is not to react to their behavior (remember they can’t be godly), but rather to be the light and love of Christ.  We do this when we allow the Spirit of God to empower us to let God’s Word determine our behavior.  Ephesians has some great exhortations about our behavior, not just for the holidays, but for all time.

What would it look like for ONLY encouraging words to come out of your mouth?  ONLY words that build others up according to their needs (not yours)?  We often struggle with being encouraging because our hearts are not right.  We harbor bitterness and unforgiveness which causes us to lash out rather than build up.  God says to get rid our baggage – bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander (injuring the reputation of another) and every form of malice (wishing ill-will on another).  We get rid of it by forgiving those who have hurt or angered us and releasing them, even if they don’t deserve it.  Yep, even if they don’t deserve it.  You see, God says we are to forgive because He forgave us when we didn’t deserve it. 

So, make it your goal this holiday season to be kind, compassionate and forgiving.  Choose your words carefully so they build up and encourage others.  And, by the way, if the situation becomes unbearable, just thank your host for the wonderful time and gently excuse yourself.


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