And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works.
— Hebrews 10:24
Different families have different traditions regarding how they spend Christmas Day. As for my family, once all the gifts were opened and things were cleaned up around our own house, we always headed next to Grandpa and Grandma Renner’s house, where another Christmas tree with gifts awaited us. Grandma Renner had one of those cameras with huge flashbulbs, and after each photo, we all had to wait while she replaced four burned-out bulbs with fresh ones. She had to repeat that process every time a photo was taken.
After gifts were opened, we all knew it was just a short time before we’d sit down to have Christmas lunch. There we all were — Daddy, Mother, Ronda, Lori, myself, Grandpa, Grandma, and Grandmother Faulkner (my great-grandmother and mother of Grandmother Renner, a woman who had been married five times). I can even tell you the seating arrangement at the table, because it never changed from year to year. I was always seated next to Grandmother Faulkner, who had milky-like cataracts that slipped around both of her eyes and were rather horrid to look at.
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The talk at the table could go from positive to negative in a very short period of time. My father was the moderator, and if things swung in a negative direction, he would say “Enough of that!”
The food was amazing. We had turkey, ham, baked green beans in bacon sauce, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes and gravy, biscuits — and all of that was just starters — to be followed by an array of desserts that covered one end of the table to the other end. The Christmas lunch would literally last for hours. It was a tradition that became very important in the Renner household. All of it was prepared by multiple hands — and before we ate it, we always joined hands and thanked God for another wonderful year.
When I think of those Christmas meals, my mind always goes to Hebrews 10:24, which says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works.” The word “consider” is the Greek word katanoeo, a compound of kata and neoeo. The word kata means down, and neoeo means to think. When compounded, they form a new word that means to deeply reflect, to consider, or to think deeply about. The word “provoke” is the Greek word paroxusmos, which negatively means to irritate, but positively means to stimulate. In this case, it is used in a positive sense to stimulate each other unto love and good works. When all of these words are used together, it is the image of a person or a group of people who are actively pondering how to stimulate each other to love and do good works.
That’s what happened at our Christmas dinner each year. With Dad as the moderator, he grabbed hold of any conversation that swung in a negative direction and swung it back in a positive direction. This demonstrated to me the power that one person can have in making sure a conversation is positive and Christ-filled. My dad taught that to me through example, because without his input, the conversation would have swung in a very negative, nasty direction. But he would not allow it. He purposely kept the conversation on track, and he made sure that kind things were said about every person who was mentioned at that Christmas meal. Dad encouraged me to always say kind things about others — even when I had opportunity to say something nasty or uncomplimentary. He simply wouldn’t allow it.
As you get ready for your own Christmas dinner with your family this year, make the decision that you’ll make kind remarks about every person who is mentioned. Christmas isn’t a time for gossip or unkind remarks. It’s a time to express thankfulness for all that God has done through various individuals. And if you can’t easily think of something good to say about someone, maybe the best route is just to keep your mouth shut. Sometimes that’s the greatest wisdom of all!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, this year when we gather around the Christmas table, I ask You to set a watch over my lips and a guard over my mouth. I make the decision now that my words will glorify You and bless and edify others. If the conversation turns negative and those around me begin to talk about various individuals, help me to be bold and courageous enough to lovingly say, “Enough of that” — and then shift the conversation toward the positive. I refuse to be negative and give way to sarcasm. The carnal mind enjoys that, and so does the devil because it gives him an opportunity to interject his lies. But I thank You, Holy Spirit, that You are my Counselor, and with Your help, my heart deeply ponders and guides what my mouth speaks before I ever say a word.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am a source that provokes others to love and to good works! My mouth is a life-spring of good works that encourages others to do what God would have them to do. I do NOT speak critical words, nor am I a source of negative talk. When my family or friends are together as a group, I see myself as a moderator who keeps the conversation on course. I will influence the group to speak of things that are praiseworthy and of a good report. I am a positive force, and because of me, others are stimulated to love and to good works!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you remember specific negative conversations you’ve participated in and how they led to nowhere positive? In light of those memories, what are you going to do at this Christmas meal to keep things headed in a positive direction?
- The fact is that all is not well with everyone we know. However, if we will make the effort, we’ll be able to think of something good to say about every Have you given serious contemplation about what you are going to be saying about people this year at your Christmas meal?
- You may have someone in your family who isn’t well liked by other family members. Have you prayed for that person and asked God to help you find something positive to say about him or her as you learn to see that family member through His eyes?