On Christmas day, someone asked my advice about being unexpectedly asked to go visit their boyfriend’s extended family. This person was in total vacation mode, wanting nothing more than to chill. Getting together and talking to strange people was not on the agenda. But I counseled that she think of the benefits of pushing through and being giving. It was a victory for her. She did push through, had a good time, and was glad that she did.
This Christmas was a victory for me as well. I was able to focus on the gift of having Jesus, and let that transcend everything else that was going on. Typically I feel the pressure to create a perfect Christmas — wonderful meals, finding the right present for everyone. I gauge my worthiness by how I achieve these benchmarks. But this year I was satisfied in Christ, and just enjoyed the holiday. I am so thankful to God for showing me how to do that.
Also, for the last couple of weeks I have wrestled mightily with the Duck Dynasty controversy. It bugs me to the core that people who wrote in the media about the incident said that someone who quotes and believes what the Bible says about homosexual acts are ignorant intolerant bigots. I tried to write a blog about this, and it at least helped me to grow in my understanding of the event.
My conclusion was that humility is what we must reflect to the world. We do want to fear God and stress the importance of obedience. We do want to have compassion on others, and live out the golden rule. But compassion and living out the golden rule are the only things that the world thinks Christianity should be. And while it is true that without love we are only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal, making Jesus Lord is also important. So how do we communicate this? If we even give off the slightest scent of self righteousness, the world will shut its ears. They MUST see us as humble, still standing up for the truth, but humble.
Humility, love, compassion, giving to one another — these things are the currency of the best life. Right now, I am sort of in the mush of the holidays. I am not sure what my goals will be for the new year. But one thing resonates very strongly for me. I want to focus on love and mercy. I want to simply enjoy being with people, and enjoy life, and not make life about a series of tasks that I goad myself to achieve.
And so, here are some of the verses that have comforted my heart in recent days.
- There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. Mercy triumphs over judgement. James 2:13
- He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
- For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Hos 6:6
- But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Matt 9:13
- If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. Matt 12:7
- To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Mark 12:33
- The LORD is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. Prov 21:3
- “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?…Isa 58:6-7