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Holiday Hate

by Justin Smith on November 24, 2021

Scripture 

"At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 'But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 'His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 'But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.' " (Matthew 18:26)

Observation

The thoughts of Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas lights, and the holiday season can bring mixed emotions to our hearts. For some, it’s a delightful time of excitement and joy as families gather together to enjoy good food and good company. For others, it’s a dreaded time as, either, their family is incomplete or completely estranged or the gatherings create more drama and hardship than delight and happiness. No matter where I, or you, might be on this spectrum of emotions, 2 critical lessons captured my heart this morning in Matthew 18 that are perfect as we prepare for this season.

1. You are loved and forgiven.

Jesus tells a parable of a servant who had amassed a completely insurmountable debt. The situation was not only desperate but completely impossible, BUT his master chose forgiveness, chose mercy, chose love and freed the servant from his debt. Jesus loves you! Your debt toward Him is great, BUT His love is greater and reaches beyond every one of your failures, shortcomings, and mistakes. If you are one struggling in this season, may I encourage with the promise of His love, His forgiveness, and His compassion.

2. Because you are loved and forgiven, GIVE love and forgiveness.

Jesus continues: the servant that was just forgiven an insurmountable debt…the one who was just shown mercy and compassion, then, finds a fellow servant who owed him a comparatively small debt and demanded justice and repayment. The audacity! Yet, I wonder how often we do that. We were forgiven an impossible debt by Jesus, yet we hold grudges, harbor bitterness, and when we’re wronged we feel justified to not forgive.

Application

I’ll just put it out there: this holiday season you probably will be offended, you probably will be hurt, you probably will be wronged...choose forgiveness. You have been forgiven an insurmountable debt and His mercies are new every morning...so you must be quick to forgive the minuscule debt you might think is owed to you. This holiday season, may we be forgivers, peace makers, and dispensers of His love. I’ll be honest: it’s going to take a lot of effort, a lot of dying to yourself, a lot of emotional surrender. It won’t be easy, but Jesus paid the ultimate price for us and now asks us to do the same for others.

  • Choose not to open your mouth when you’re upset. Don’t say what you want to say, but choose to walk away.
  • Don’t allow yourself to hold in resentment, frustration or bitterness, but surrender it to God right away.
  • Forgive past debts. Don’t walk into your family gathering dwelling on past hurts, but extend forgiveness and allow for a clean slate.
  • Remember how much you’ve been forgiven, and walk humbly and gratefully in that.

Prayer

Jesus, Thank You that you have chosen to love and forgive me. The debt that I owed, and continue to owe, is completely insurmountable, yet You paid it, You forgave it, and You chose to show me mercy. Help me to walk out my gratitude by dispensing that same love, that same forgiveness, that same mercy to those around me. This holiday season I need Your help. Can you please grant me the ability to be a peace maker, a forgiver, and a dispenser of Your love. When I get upset, may Your Holy Spirit prompt me, and may You help me to respond in obedience that I might bless You. In Your name, Amen!

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