A few days before Christmas, two men who were next-door neighbors decided to go sailing while their wives went Christmas shopping. While the men were out, a storm arose. The water became very angry and the men found it difficult to control the ship. As they tried to get to shore, they landed on a sandbar and the boat was grounded. Both jumped overboard and tried to push it off. In knee-deep mud, waves bouncing them against the side of the boat, hair blowing wildly in the wind, one of the men said with a grin, “It sure beats Christmas shopping, doesn’t it?”
Shopping for Christmas gifts can be like that. Some people just don’t like it. But I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to receive gifts at Christmas. My Christmas sermons are about the Gifts of Christmas – not the ones you buy at the store but the ones you get from God. So let me talk about the best gift – the gift of LOVE.
We can’t talk about love from a Christian perspective without referring to the “Love chapter” – 1 Corinthians 13. I have included just the first 8 verses here:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift ofprophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:1-8a)
Before I talk about our love for others, I want to make sure you know the true source of love. The source of all love is God. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). “We love him (God) because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). “Whoever does not love, does not know God because God is love.” (1 John 4:8). If you want to know how to love, you need to know God. You can know God in a personal way by believing and receiving His Son, Jesus, as your personal Savior. The better you know Jesus, the better you will truly love.
The source of all love is God. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). “We love him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). “Whoever does not love, does not know God because God is love.” (1 John 4:8). If you want to know how to love, you need to know Jesus. The better you know Jesus, the better you will truly love.
From 1 Corinthians 13 I discovered three lessons to help us love better at Christmas.
1 – Love is absolutely necessary at Christmas.
Love must be the most important aspect of our Christmas. 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that without love, none our actions and beliefs are anything without love. Without love, even Christmas is meaningless. Without love, you will get nothing out of Christmas. You must give love to receive love. Loving others must be our daily objective and goal in life. Think about how you can love others better this Christmas.
2 – Love must be expressed at Christmas.
We have developed an idea that love is a passive emotion. We can love someone but not do anything about it. But that’s not the idea behind the Bible’s idea of love. Love is an action verb. Love means doing tangible acts of kindness to someone else in an unconditional and self-sacrificing way. Charity means to be compassionate to people.
It is difficult for many to show love to others, especially when love has been given with little love in return. Even though it may be risky, tell someone this Christmas “I love you”, give that hug. Show others how much you love them, even when they don’t deserve it.
3 – Love doesn’t end at Christmas.
Even though Christmas is a great time to show others our love, it shouldn’t be a seasonal attitude because love never ends. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had the ‘Christmas spirit’ all year round? True love isn’t something we can turn from hot to cold depending on conditions or actions of others. Love is something others should be able to count on no matter how underserving they are. This doesn’t mean we don’t make hard decisions, hold people accountable, or speak the truth when needed. But it does mean that people will know through it all that we love them.
The ability to love must come from the source of love. As you try to love others at Christmas, you will need to connect with God more and more. Recall how much God has shown His love to you through Jesus Christ. Love God and you will find your love for others gets better.
Or you can read more Gifts of Christmas.