One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the rich, harmonious music that tunes my heart to the celebration of our Lord and Savior’s birth! Century old carols and current melodies teach me the theology of our Lord’s sacrifice for me. As I savor each musical selection I am challenged to search my heart to discern if it reflects the level of harmony that they represent.
As God’s child, I am called to live in harmony with one others. First Peter 3:8-9 suggests behaviors for successful relationships among believers. A number of words and phrases—harmonious, absence of nagging, brotherly, faithful, forgiving spirit, and kind-hearted, offer a biblical formula to help me follow Peter’s instructions. May I encourage you to meditate on each of them as you approach the days that remain in this year? It is my prayer that they will assist you in tuning your heart for a harmonious holiday season and a fruitful new year!
Harmonious is translated from the Greek word homophones and literally means "to be of the same mind"; be of one mind is drawn “from two Greek words, meaning ‘to think the same,’ and ‘to be like-minded.’ The idea is to maintain inward unity of heart. All Christians are to be examples and purveyors of peace and unity, not disruption and disharmony
An absence of nagging suggests stillness or quietness; contention (paroxusmos), the source of nagging, implies the action of stirring up or provoking. Nagging is relentlessly bothering another, and a contentious, nagging person distresses others rather than encouraging or affirming them.
Brotherly is a translation of philadephoi, from which the city of Philadelphia derives its name. Throughout First Peter brotherly is used to describe the type of relationship that Christians are to have toward one another (1:22, 2:17, 4:8, 5:14).
Faithful, drawn from the Greek word pistos, suggests that one is trusted and reliable. Our lives are to be characterized first by a faithful relationship to our Lord, and then by actions that demonstrate faithfulness to others.
Forgiving spirit has as its root forgiveness. Believers are to demonstrate the willingness to forgive others as Christ forgave them (Eph. 1:7, 4:32).
Kindhearted is a translation of the Greek word chresteuomai, meaning kind, good, and gracious. When we follow our Lord’s example we are willing to be inconvenienced by guiding a weak person through a difficult decision, helping a lonely person find friendship, encouraging a believer who is down, affirming those who fail, and numerous other actions that reflects kindness.
Kelsey’s Korner offers suggestions that apply these words and phrases with the goal of attaining unity and peace during the holidays, and when embraced form the foundation for a year harmonious living.
Can you believe that the holidays are here again? The season brings with it memories, expectations, and anticipations. Maybe for you it’s the promise of your favorite holiday foods or the glisten of snow on rooftops and trees. Perhaps it’s your holiday traditions, forged though generations of joy and expectation. Or possibly it’s the aromas—the pine and peppermint mingled with hot cocoa, or the turkey in the oven, melding with the tang and spice of cranberry sauce simmering on the stove. However, these pictures are idyllic. If we are honest, for many the holidays generate tension. Families together under the same roof can often birth discord, and the bitterness, hatred, and resentment that emerge can overpower the smells, sights, sounds, and even the purposes of the holidays. Unity and peace can feel like an unattainable luxury.
A running theme throughout the majority of the Pauline epistles is unity, and Paul’s letter to the Philippians focuses on how to achieve corporate unity in the church. Several times, Paul encourages the church to be of one mind, one spirit, having the same love (1:27; 2:2) so that their striking unity would create a stark contrast between them and the “crooked and twisted generation” around them (2:15). Paul’s solution to disunity is humility, or selfless service to others, and he holds Christ forward as the foremost example of this selfless, unifying humility. So how can humility help us build family unity? Let’s meditate together on just a few of the exhortations provided for us in Philippians:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition of conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (2:3). Despite the utter sinful unworthiness of those he came to die for, Christ, though in the form of God, humbled himself, even to the point of death on the cross. With Christ as our example, we too can humble ourselves this season by considering others more significant than ourselves. Instead of pursuing our own dream of the “perfect holiday,” let’s make it happen for those around us, regardless of their worthiness—vengeance, we are told, belongs to God, not us (Rom. 12:19). Whether we have been wronged or hurt, God is pleased when we respond in humility and love.
“Do all things without grumbling or dispute” (2:14). This command is a hard one. Sometimes our actions and words say, “I don’t mind serving you, but I’m going to make sure you know how much you’re putting me out as I do it!” Seek, in everything you do, to avoid all forms of grumbling or dispute. Simply serve those around you in selfless humility, looking to Jesus as your constant example.
“Hold fast to the word of life” (2:16). Let the Word of God be your lifeline and strength this season. All our efforts are a farce when our hearts are not set on our Lord. When we have the Word of God running in our hearts and minds, we have a template for how to act: we honor our father and mother (even when they are being unreasonable!) (Eph. 6:2), we love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44), and forgive constantly, no matter how many times we have been offended (Matt. 18:21-22).
“Rejoice in the Lord” (3:1; 4:4-7). Remember, Paul wrote this epistle while imprisoned, and yet rejoicing in the Lord is a notable theme of his letter. Despite the hardships this season may bring, don’t forget to practice daily thanksgiving for Christ, for his sacrificial death for your sins, for the sonship you have been granted, and for the imperishable inheritance waiting for you! If you belong to Christ, these truths are yours, no matter how dim your earthly circumstances may feel.
Conflict is certain this side of Christ’s return. As Christians, we must be prepared—constantly seeking to reflect Christ through unifying humility and love. So join me this holiday season as I prepare my heart and mind for holiday tension. And finally, sisters, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (4:8-9).
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, “Whatever you do, work heartily as for me and not for men, knowing that from me you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving me.” (Col. 3:23-24)
Therefore, I may boldly say, “I am to focus on God’s perspective through the day, realizing it is Him whom I am serving at home and at work rather than my husband, children, or employer.”
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Blessings on your holiday season as you focus on making your house a harmonious home!