I know it’s only January, but I already miss hearing “Merry Christmas.” This cheerful greeting brings a smile to people’s faces, even if they are shivering from winter’s cold weather or frustrated from waiting in long lines at a store. These two simple words remind us that we have an incredible reason to rejoice.
I noticed this past holiday season that some of the words that followed “Merry Christmas” were anything but merry. Complaints, criticism, gossip, and judgments can dampen even the most festive atmosphere. Bitter remarks stemming from resentful and unforgiving hearts can literally make us sick.
So do we have to let the negative words we hear suck the joy and excitement right out of us?
We can move to a more uplifting environment. Many people speak words that build up others. Wholesome words benefit us in many ways, so why not position ourselves to hear them?
We can also limit the amount of time we spend around negative people. It’s okay to set boundaries that guard our heart and our mind. We may need to step out of a room where people are fighting or keep a phone call short.
Not only can we hold on to our joy, but we also can bring light to those around us when we speak up in the midst of dark or unpleasant situations. In fact, we may be called to encourage or exhort someone who is depressed or stuck in self-pity. Our words can help individuals realize what they are saying and how their words are hurting them and the people around them.
According to Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV), “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” We often say what is in our heart. I don’t know about you, but I want joy—the fruit of God’s spirit—to abide in my heart, so I can speak words that equip, heal, and inspire.
Won’t you join me in keeping “Merry Christmas” going throughout the New Year? After all, we are called to spread the good news of Christ’s birth, as well as His death and resurrection, to a world in need of a Savior. May each of us have a merry mouth that pours out adoration, gratitude, praise, and victory.