Christmas has a way of forcing us to spend time together with people we don’t actually like very much.

Maybe for you it’s your know-it-all mother-in-law who can’t help but give her opinion about your life, or your burly uncle who chooses to deliver a politically-charged monologue… over turkey dinner! Or perhaps it’s your brother who no longer holds to the real meaning of Christmas and rolls his eyes when you pray before the meal.

Personalities collide. Worldviews clash. And if you don’t bite your tongue, you may drive away from your family gathering with regrets stealing the joy of the day.

So how can we have a merry Christmas around those one or two people we’d rather keep at a distance? We need to look no further than the very person we are celebrating. The attitude that makes all the difference is already ”yours [for the receiving] in Christ Jesus.”

You see — Jesus could have kept His distance from us, safe up in heaven, away from our selfish and hurtful ways, looking down on us from a place of eternal comfort.

But He didn’t.

He chose to come close. Very close. As close as a baby to His mother’s breast. He took on the flesh of our broken humanity, lived among us, and hung out with many unsavory folks, all the while loving every one of them unconditionally, sacrificially, and lavishly.

Then, after demonstrating the epitome of love on the cross, He ascended to heaven and left us the only 100% reliable resource to love like He does — The Holy Spirit.

Make this your prayer today:

God, I would hate for my actions or words today to spoil the beauty of celebrating the birth of your son. I invite your Holy Spirit to purify my attitude today. May the words I speak be seasoned with your unconditional love. May I serve every person in my family excellently, in the strength you provide. Amen.

Go Deeper — Today, before you gather with family, use the prayer above again to invite the Holy Spirit to help you love others like Jesus does. Resist the urge to keep your distance. Move toward your family with the words and attitude the Holy Spirit provides.

Tags: Love Philippians 2
Photo Credit: Jean Lakosnyk