|Original digital art created by Dale Jackson, www.StratoArt.com|
It’s ironic that during this time of year, Thanksgiving and Christmas—a time that should generate hearts filled with gratitude and joy, often bring the opposite; hearts filled with envy, covetousness, bitterness, clamor, slander, gossip and hostility. And all this, by way of our in-laws (or outlaws) that many of us only see during this time of year.
In the beginning of every marriage, everyone is usually on their best behavior, but as time goes by, “familiarity breeds contempt”. This is not only true within relationships, but it happens with special occasions that were meant to stir a person’s heart toward humility and gratitude; two things that are much needed, yet extremely lacking in our world today.
We all have in-laws and some of us have outlaws for relatives. And, if we’re honest, some of us are the outlaws. You know, the ones who breed quarrels, who incite jealousy and gossip among our family members. Some of us are the ones who never have anything nice to say about anyone...except ourselves. We’ll even go as far as feigning or creating injuries so all attention is on us, rather than on God or others.
Then there are those who love Christ with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength and regardless of what they say or do, or don’t say or do, they are maligned, rejected and falsely accused of much evil; all because of their good conduct in Christ (1 Peter 2:19-23, 3:14-17). Oddly enough, they’re often considered the outlaws, because they choose to love with God’s truth and not with a flattery, lying tongue that might make people feel good, but does nothing to help them be good.
This unrest and strife can strain a marriage. So what’s a person to do? Well, you can’t change those around you, but you can have your hearts transformed and minds renewed by the word of God. So whether you are the in-laws or the outlaws at your family’s Thanksgiving gathering, choose wisely how you will spend this time God has given you: pleasing others, pleasing yourself or pleasing God (Galatians 1:10).
And if there are any grievances that need to be forgiven; forgive, just as you've been forgiven by God in Christ Jesus. And if you have anything you need to repent of, then repent. Let go of your pride and false piety and live at peace with your family...as much as it is up to you (Rom 12:9-11, 16-19).
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”~Ephesians 4:29-32