I know the title sounds a little bit odd. Generally, we have the idea that everyone is already a bit kinder around the holidays. We’re all in the mood for giving. We’re a bit more generous. We offer well wishes more readily.
All that is true. But amazingly, at the same time, my experience has been that people also get a bit less kind at the same time. Because we are in a rush to get to the store and purchase that perfect present we react more harshly if someone cuts us off in traffic. Because the store is crowded and we feel pressed upon, we get a little tenser. Because the item we wanted to purchase is out of stock, we get a little angrier. Because somebody else got what we wanted, we get a little more jealous. Because we have so much to do and so little time to do it, we get a little less patient.
With all the pressures, time constraints, expectations and financial burdens at this time of year, we can actually forget that we are supposed to be kind to others. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (ESV). While this verse speaks about “one another” these are good principles to follow with everyone, whether they are Christians or not.
Matthew 7:12 says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (ESV). When you accidentally cut someone off in traffic, how do you want them to treat you? Do the same for others. When you accidentally bump into someone in the store, how do you want them to treat you? Do the same for others. When you get someone a gift, how do you want them to treat you? Do the same for them.
Times of bigger pressures are not times when we should expect God to look the other way and make exceptions. These are times for us to rely on Him even more so we can live by His will no matter what. We are called to do this even when others do not reciprocate.
Make a concerted effort this holiday season to keep up your patience and kindness. Treat others as creations of God who are struggling with all these pressures as well. When you do that, you will likely treat them in a much better way. Not to mention, you will develop more fulfilling relationships with the people in your life, connecting with them through your kindness rather than separating from them because of your bitterness.
Let’s remember that we are Christians all the time, not just when it is easy. We’re in the pressure pot this month; let’s make sure we don’t get cooked.