As many of us will be attending holiday gatherings with coworkers, friends, and family members, it can be a time where old wounds reemerge. We see someone and remember a snarky comment, hurtful post on social media, or maybe even some bigger betrayal.
At this time of year when we celebrate Christ’s birth, we rejoice that He came to earth to show us how to live but also to pay the price for our sins to give us a great gift – forgiveness. In the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6, we find these words, “Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” (11-12)
Just as we need food every day, we also must receive and extend forgiveness on a daily basis. Think now about that person who you will see this holiday season that you would rather not. Maybe they make passive agressive comments, bring up your faults in public, or just make you feel small by ignoring you. In his book titled Forgiveness: Finding Peace through Letting Go, Adam Hamilton shares a very practical acronymn to help us become professional forgivers which I think is especially relevant during this season.
When you feel the tension rise, RAP up the best gift you can give to others (and yourself.)
R – Remember your own shortcomings.
(Nobody’s perfect and when we take off our Pharisee glasses we will see that we make mistakes too. It makes it easier to see our offenders more clearly as one sinner forgiving another sinner.)
A – Assume the best of people.
(We often default to thinking the worst. We assume the motives and intent of others and can even blow balloons in our heads by reading more into someone’s tone, posture, or comment that was ever intended. Assuming the best keeps us from inflating a situation.)
P – Pray for them.
(People who are unkind sometimes have a deeper hurt beneath the surface. Ask God to bless and help them. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus said, “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” A great way to celebrate His birth would be to obey this command He gave us.)
I pray each one of you have a wonderful Christmas. For some of you its a difficult time of year remembering loved ones you have lost or walking through difficult circumstances. Others of you may be dreading encounters in the next few weeks with people who’ve hurt you. No matter what is happening in your life, remember to RAP up grace and find God’s peace inside!