November 27, 2007
The White Elephant
“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.” 1 John 3:18-19 (NIV)
‘Tis the season for parties. The invitation reads, “Bring a white elephant gift.” A white elephant gift doesn’t require much thought or money. It can be an inexpensive trinket, a used household item or a gag gift. These white elephant get-togethers create laughter and light-hearted camaraderie.
However, there exists another kind of “white elephant” social gathering—the type where everyone knows there is a relational conflict that exists within the group, but no one acknowledges it. This pachyderm problem might occur within families, between co-workers, or in a neighborhood. The more everyone pretends the white elephant issue isn’t there, the bigger the unseen problem grows. The denial is like feeding peanuts to a live elephant—it grows larger and larger.
Do you anticipate this type of white elephant intruding on one of your upcoming festivities? Do you dread being in the same room with a particular person? To my own distress, I usually attend at least one event where the unwanted guest arrives, blowing its silent trumpet and begging for peanuts. However, God does not intend for us to ignore the problem. He wants us to seek His wisdom and guidance. The Lord wants us to pray and consider carefully how we might apply the following scriptural principles to help prevent or dissolve the uninvited intruder of tension from our personal relationships:
- Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18, NIV)
- Pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. (Romans 14:19, NASB)
- If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18, NIV)
Let’s decide beforehand how God would have us handle any uncomfortable situation that might steal away the joy and peace of a Christmas festivity. If the white elephant isn’t gift-wrapped, it doesn’t belong at the party. So don’t pack any invisible peanuts in your holiday attire, but love as Jesus loves—with action and truth.
Dear Lord, I anticipate at least one party where a “white elephant” sits in the room. I ask that You teach me how to handle any situation like this with love, truth and action. Reveal to me if I contribute to the issue in any way. Lord, help me to reach out to everyone in Your love and compassion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Perplexing Proverbs by Susanne Scheppmann
The Five Languages of Apology by Dr. Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas
Consider your upcoming holiday events. Identify any potential “white elephants” that might be present. Pray over the event and ask the Holy Spirit to direct your words and actions. Ask God to evaporate the “elephant” and to resolve the relational conflict that might be residing in your heart.
Does the same “white elephant” return every year?
How do I play a part in feeding it and allowing it to grow larger?
Is it possible that I could be the cause of the white elephant?
Psalm 40:10, “I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.” (NIV)
3 John 1:3-4, “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Tuesday, 27 November 2007.