A New Kind of Christmas List

the everyday Christmas list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 21:14 (NLT)
A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury.

Proverbs 21:14 (MSG)
A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person;
 a heartfelt present cools a hot temper.

On the surface, this verse can so easily raise my resistance. A bribe? Really? REALLY????

Something to remember is the context and culture at the time it was written. Bribes were not necessarily bad. They were a normal part of conducting personal, business, and governmental affairs. And, it was ok.

But, the principle in the verse transcends that. There is practical wisdom and spiritual wisdom at work here.

Luke 6:27 tells us to do good to those who hate us. To love our enemies.

Mathew 5:9 equates being a peacemaker with being a son of God!

Romans 12:19 tells us to never avenge ourselves.

Romans 12:20-21 tells us to feed our enemy if he is hungry; to give him something to drink if he is thirsty. We are not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.

1 Corinthians 13 is what we call the “Love Chapter.” Be patient and kind. Don’t keep any list or record of wrong done to us. Don’t be irritable or resentful.

Mathew 7:12 says that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated.

Proverbs 15:1 reminds us not to meet anger with anger – that a soft answer calms the anger aimed at us.

We heard a minister preach a sermon along these lines several years ago. He said that if someone is angry at you or even doing hurtful and very wrong things to you, “put that person on your Christmas list.” This message came during a particularly gruesome time where some very horrible things were happening in and around our business. Things that weren’t right. Not fair. Lies told. Nightmare situations emerging. Real loss.

My husband recently found a note pad of mine from around that time. There was a page titled “Christmas List.” Under that heading, there was a list names and things I could do for those people. Without them even knowing it. My husband didn’t remember the message and was truly confused by the list. I reminded him and we laughed about it. We can now.

But, I will tell you that making that list and purposing to do good to and for people who were seriously destructive was a BIG challenge. “Pray” was next to each name. “Do not speak anything against him/her” also made the list. Several times. We gave a couple of gift cards for restaurants. To people bent on hurting us. I did some gentle and kind things anonymously. Not because it changed THEM. Not even because it changed the situation and issues. But, because it allowed something sweet and peaceful to begin working in me. In us.
 
It was pretty impossible to let the poison of bitterness, anger, hurt, vengeance, and hate swirl around inside me when I was thinking of ways to do good and to have compassion. I would love to tell you that situation was the last one where I’ve had that opportunity. It wasn’t. But, the principle works. Every time. It does a few of things…

#1 – It changes my thought patterns and focus. Instead of lasering in on what has or is being done wrong to me and me as a victim; it is actually empowering and quite freeing to switch to a different role.

#2 – It changes my ability to extricate myself from the emotional turmoil. I am able to open myself up to the healing,  direction, and wisdom of God in how to best navigate the circumstances and situation. When I am pulled inward by the pain, anger, indignation, shock, etc., it is very, very difficult to get above the emotions and operate in my spirit person and hear from God and see His plan and path to take me out of this and into a place of wholeness and restoration.

#3 – It changes the spiritual results and possibilities. It opens up fresh environment and willingness in me for the Holy Spirit to bring peace and newness. To move on and move up and not get stuck emotionally or spiritually.

Sometimes, it isn’t someone doing evil or bad things to us; it is just conflict or misunderstanding. And, (I know this is shocking!) we are usually quite sure that we are right and the other person is wrong. At the very least, they are wrong in their response and reaction. Making them wrong even if we were originally wrong. Right?

The great wisdom here is that it doesn’t matter. I was right? Ok. I wasn’t right? Ok, too. Oh. Well. The answer is the same. Gently, kindly, humbly…do something nice and generous and good. Quietly. Secretly. Not as a show for everyone else. Not as a show for them. Just to and for the person who is angry.

It can SO go against our grain. Hit our pride. Feel wrong. Seem counter-intuitive or even manipulative. We don’t want that person to think that we think they are right. We don’t want to be weak. We don’t want to be the first one to back down. We may not even be sure we want to continue any kind of relationship with them again. Ever.

Not the point.

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