They say holiday times are the worst for family relationships. More arguments, fights, divorces and estrangements occur during these periods of ‘relaxation’ and ‘celebration’ than at any other. I can understand that – we are under such incredible pressure to have fun, to be nice, to enjoy ourselves that it’s no wonder we explode.
But Christmas is about peace, about love, about joy. It’s the time we remember the greatest gift ever, a gift that would make it possible for us to be reconciled with God and with each other. So why do we too often end up stressed and hot under the collar?
For pressing down milk makes butter,
pressing your nose makes it bleed,
and pressing anger makes trouble.
This proverb explains a lot. I’ve never made butter but I know the process and I’ve seen it in movies and documentaries. You have to keep the cream moving, keep it turning over and over until the butter separates out. I do know about nose bleeds – not from being punched but from accidental bangs on the nose and seeing those punches thrown on television. I also know about anger. I know about having it stirred in me and, to my shame, stirring it up in others.
The Hebrew word is related to pressure – churning, pressing, wringing, forcing and isn’t that how we get angry? Something irritates us and we keep working at it, we don’t let it rest; we turn it over and over until it separates out and explodes all over us.
Or worse we let someone keep prodding at it because we won’t let it go, we won’t release the thing they press at so it can’t bother us anymore.
Or worst of all we prod and press relentlessly at something in someone else until their anger erupts into quarreling or even violence.
Our Prince of Peace has a better way for us. Jesus says so clearly:
Blessed are the peacemakers—they will be called children of God.
14 If you forgive people when they sin against you, then your Father will forgive you when you sin against Him and when you sin against your neighbor. 15 But if you do not forgive your neighbors’ sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
We gave up the right to hold onto things that offend or annoy us when we gave our lives to Him. We gained instead the privilege of showing a better way: the way of forgiveness and mercy, the way of gentleness and kindness, the way of love.
12 Since you are all set apart by God, made holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a holy way of life: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
13 Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act in kind.
14 But above all these, put on love! Love is the perfect tie to bind these together.
15 Let your hearts fall under the rule of the Anointed’s peace (the peace you were called to as one body), and be thankful.
I’m sure you’ve heard the song ‘Let It Go’. As Christians, that should have been our motto long before Disney put it to music. Not just in the frozen winter but all year round; each and every day as we demonstrate the love of God at work in us.