Although I’ve never actually watched an episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants, I have to admit that one of my favorite Christmas songs is their “Don’t be a Jerk, It’s Christmas”. In fact, I may have used it over the years as a ringtone for certain people who could stand to apply this advice to their lives. I think if we were going to be honest, we could all admit that we know people who could stand to hear these words of wisdom. People whose presence lights up the holiday season about as much as cousin Eddie’s arrival at the Griswold family Christmas. (FYI, we watch the dramatically cleaned up version on AMC without the foul language) There’s the jealous Judy who resents that everyone else has it better than her. The single woman who pouts and punishes the whole world because she’s alone again. We can’t forget controlling Clara who insists that everyone do everything her way all of the time zapping all of the joy from the season. And who doesn’t know nosey Nellie, the woman who thinks everyone needs to hear her opinion on everything including what you’re wearing, what you’re eating, and what you should do with the rest of your life. Then there are my personal favorites: Ungrateful Gertrude who is angry that she didn’t get what she wanted under the tree and spends the rest of the day taking jabs at her family for being such Bozos. Or traumatized Tillie who experienced Christmas tragedy over 25 years ago and is determined to hate Christmas and punish everyone around her for the rest of their lives. And the list could go on and on describing people who choose to wear bitterness, hate, anger, and self pity to every Christmas party they attend. To these people, I have a suggestion: It’s time for a change of attire. This year is the perfect year to choose to lay the negative issues and attitudes that are holding you captive at the foot of the cross and leave them behind you forever. Spend some quality time with Jesus talking about why you feel and act the way you do, work through the pain, and then determine to make a change. One of the best changes you can make is to choose to put on joy just like you choose to put on clean clothes in the morning. The truth is that you can choose what attitude you will wear, even in difficult circumstances. Will you choose gratefulness or bitterness, kindness or rudeness, anger or joy? And as you’re making your choice, here’s an interesting fact: God doesn’t just want us to experience joy, He actually commands us to be joyful. Take a look at this:
“Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.” Psalm 33:1
“Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (NLT) Psalm 32:11
“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you, may those who long for your saving help always say, 'The Lord is great!’” (NLT) Psalm 70:4
“Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.” (NLT) Psalm 97:12
“Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds.” (NLT) Psalm 149:5
“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (NLT) Matthew 5:12
“Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” (NLT) Philippians 3:1
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
“Rejoice always,” 1 Thessalonians 5:16
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” James 1:2
And this is just a small portion of the Scriptures that tell us to be joy-filled.
So this Christmas, we all have a choice. Will we choose to obey the Bible and be filled with God’s joy or will you continue to emulate the Grinch and steal Christmas joy from yourself and everyone around you? I truly hope you choose joy and have a joy-filled holiday season. And don’t be a jerk—-it’s Christmas!