by Gloria Copeland
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV).
One of the most recognized Bible verses of all time, this verse sums up how much God loves us in one sentence. This is the time of year when we reflect on that love. God is love. And Christmas is a celebration of the greatest gift we have or will ever receive as a result—Jesus.
In spite of this truth, sometimes it seems as though we witness anything but love this time of year. Cars swiftly pull in front of others to secure the best spot. Women fight over hand towels at Black Friday sales. Families bicker over Christmas dinner.
The devil would love to distract us from the real reason for our celebration this Christmas. He seeks to steal our joy, kill our peace, and destroy a treasured time for families everywhere. But, we don’t have to let him!
It’s time to put the focus back on what Christmas is all about.
Love at Christmas
Why is important to show love at Christmas? This season is a celebration of the greatest gift of love ever shown to mankind. If we truly want to honor God for sending Jesus, it won’t be accomplished through decorating, shopping and baking. There isn’t anything wrong with adding those things to our celebration, but it isn’t a substitute for what God desires most.
What does He desire most?
He told us in Matthew 22:37-40: “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
First, Love God
Many people claim to know God. But they are being robbed of the kind of relationship Jesus wants with them, one in which they abide in Him. They are deceived, thinking: I pray and read the Word every day. I think that means I’m abiding in Jesus.
The issue is, what it means to abide in Him. As important as it is to spend time reading, meditating and listening to God’s Word, those things alone do not qualify you as one who abides. To be a true “abider” you must take one more step. You must not only hear the Word, you must also act on it.
Abiding is obeying. As Jesus said: “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me” (John 14:21).
The Word that is truly alive in us is not the Word we know, but the Word we do. James 1:22 says people are deceived because they are not doers of the Word, but hearers only. First John 2:4-5 says it this way: “If someone claims, I know God, but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.”
Without revelation knowledge followed by action, love lies undeveloped and selfishness continues to reign supreme in you—even though you are a new creature.
Second, Love Others
In John 15:12, KJV, Jesus summed up the commandments with one statement: “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
Exactly what is the spirit of love? How does it display itself? First Corinthians 13:4-8 gives us a clear answer to those questions.
Let’s put these verses in perspective when looking at our day-to-day activities this Christmas season.
Love endures long at the grocery store. It is patient with children even under pressure. It is kind to spouses no matter what the situation. It is not envious of another’s decorations or baking skills. It is not boastful about gifts, vacations, accomplishments or anything else this season. It isn’t rude in parking lots or toward difficult in-laws.
Love does not insist on its own way when deciding what to buy or which events to attend. It takes no account of those who cut others off in traffic, take the last piece of fruitcake or speak unkind words.
Love bears all things during holidays, and every other time. It is ready to believe the best in every person at the Christmas party, and every relative at the family gathering. It endures everything that may come with a pure heart and a godly attitude. Love never fails….
There is nothing—absolutely nothing—that is more important than learning to love. In fact, how accurately you perfect the love walk will determine how much of the perfect will of God you accomplish.
That’s because every other spiritual force derives its action from love. For example, the Bible teaches us that faith works by love. And answered prayer is almost an impossibility when a believer steps outside of love and refuses to forgive or is in strife with his brother.
Without love, your giving will not work. Tongues and prophecy will not work. Faith fails and knowledge is unfruitful. All the truths that you have learned from God’s Word work by love. They will profit you nothing unless you live the love of God.
Sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? But don’t despair. You are a love creature. God has re-created your spirit in the image of love. And He has sent His love Spirit to live in you and teach you how to love as He loves.
You’re Not on Your Own
If you’re sitting there thinking you could never consistently live a life of love, that it would simply be too hard for you, don’t worry. None of us could do it on our own. But, thank God, we’re not on our own! The Greater One is in us, and it’s His love that makes us victorious.
Will you commit to learning how to love this Christmas? Determine to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. Then, watch how merry your Christmas will be as you bless others with the love of God.
Dare to Shine His Light on Love This Christmas!
Show love to God and others this Christmas by daring to take on one or more of the following challenges. You might be surprised how blessed you will be when you give the love of Christ to others.
- Print out 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and put it somewhere you can see it every day.
- Volunteer to serve Christmas dinner to the homeless or pack boxes at a food bank.
- Gather a group and visit senior citizens who have no family.
- Leave a box of Christmas food and goodies on the doorstep of a family that is struggling financially. Be sure to do it anonymously.
- Donate toys at a local toy drive for kids in need.
- When others are losing their patience in the stores, show the love of Jesus by refusing to join in. Avoid arguing or vying for a parking space.
- Smile, and wish those around you Merry Christmas! It will soften hearts and remind them to do the same.
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