This time of year always warms my heart and reminds me of many wonderful holidays spent with family and friends. But if I'm not careful, I can find myself getting wrapped up in the busyness of the season, things to do, people to see, and gifts to buy. I think this is true for most people. Many people live life "maxed out" before the holiday season even starts, and then adding just a little extra stress on top creates a recipe for frustration, hurt feelings and strife.
The Bible warns us in James 3:16 that when strife comes in, it opens the door for "every evil work." We have to close the door on strife and use wisdom when planning our days. We have to consciously make the effort to receive God's grace, extend mercy to others, and hold on to peace.
Grace is God's supernatural favor, mercy and empowerment upon you. It's His ability working in you to accomplish what you need to. When Jesus left the earth, He said, "I may be going away, but I'm sending One who will never leave you—the Holy Spirit will reside in you and teach you all things." When you align yourself with the Spirit of God, you will be equipped for every good work by His grace. His grace will empower you to love others and help you navigate the holiday season!
When you receive God's grace, it empowers you to extend mercy. Choosing mercy means choosing victory because mercy triumphs over judgment! That's why Jesus showed mercy everywhere He went. Scripture tells us that Peter, one of Jesus' disciples, denied Him three times after He was arrested to be crucified. Do you know how Jesus responded? When He rose from the dead, He appeared to Mary at the tomb and said, "Tell everyone that I've risen...and go find Peter!" Jesus singled Peter out because He wanted him to know that he was still loved, valued and forgiven. Jesus didn't hold a grudge. Instead, He extended mercy to Peter and restored him. He extends that same mercy to us every day, and we can extend it to others this holiday season!
Maybe the holidays don't bring back good memories for you. Maybe you've been hurt, denied or rejected by someone. Maybe you are working through some pain right now. But remember, Jesus gave us an example of mercy, and He has equipped us by His grace to overcome. It's easy to take offense. It's easy to hold on to the hurt and pain of the past. But the best way to move forward is to give all that pain to God and let Him heal you. Receive His grace so that you can show mercy this holiday season and every day of the year!
"Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love" (2 John 1:3, NIV).