The Giving of Love
December 19-24, 2021
The word love in the Bible is often associated with breathtaking acts of trust and sacrifice. In fact, the first time the word love is used in the Bible, God puts Abraham’s love to the test by asking him to make an unthinkable sacrifice. He says, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, and offer him as an offering.” Of course, we know Abraham passed the test. But the point is that in the Bible, love is not just a feeling. Love is an act, a sacrifice you make, a gift you give. We’re going to explore the theme of the giving of love.
"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." (Psalm 100:1-5)
"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you." (Isaiah 55:1-5)
This time of year, people often go the extra mile to extend love to the people around them, even strangers. Unless that stranger happens to want the last Star Wars Lego set on Christmas Eve...or they take too long ordering their peppermint mocha. But generally, people smile more, hold doors open, snap less. The anticipation of Christmas puts love in the air.
Love is even expressed in the popular stories we tell around Christmas. The story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry tells of a young couple who only had two possessions between them: Della’s long, beautiful hair and Jim’s heirloom watch. Too poor to buy each other gifts, Della, unknown to Jim, sold her beautiful hair to buy her husband a chain for his watch, and Jim sold his watch to buy ornate combs for his wife’s hair. Upon their realization, the reader discovers a picturesque model of true, sacrificial love.
True, sacrificial love did come at Christmas. Christ loved everyone perfectly, unconditionally, impartially, and constantly. He came to establish God’s kingdom on earth and he gave his life for our justification. Jesus himself tells us in Scripture that this is the greatest love. He says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And someday when Jesus comes again, love will fill in the cracks where evil used to reign, and relationships will be unhindered by selfishness. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 that faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of these is love. When Christ returns, faith and hope will be realized, but love will continue for the remainder of eternity.
Come, Lord Jesus, the embodiment of love.
Pray this prayer throughout the day. Every time you sit down at a meal or sit at a red light, breathe this prayer and allow God to use you as an instrument of his love on earth. This week, pray this before you go to bed and when you wake up. Let love be the way you live your life.
“Father, fill me with your love, and use me to bring your love to others.”
O Come All Ye Faithful
Arrangement by John Francis Wade
YouTube Video: O Come All Ye Faithful by The Worship Initiative
1. What is the way you feel the most loved?
2. Where do you see the love of God in your life?
3. Who is a person or group of people that is difficult for you to love? How can you work on loving them better?
Jesus once said to his disciples in the book of John, “By this they will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love is certainly an important part of the Advent season, but it is an imperative part of the life of a Christ-follower. Idea: Sometime this week, make Christmas cookies and take them to your neighbors. Let them know you’re thinking about them and that you care for them! If you have a relationship with any of your neighbors and you know they don’t have a church home, invite them to come with you to a Christmas weekend service.
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Home: Cut out a large heart and write “God’s Love” on it. Each evening at dinner, pass the heart to each family member and have him or her share one way God showed his love during the day.
School: Before the holiday break, invite a friend’s family to your church’s Christmas Eve service. For extra impact, include an invitation to your home for dinner or dessert following the service.
Community: Buy simple ornaments to give as gifts to your neighbors. Include a note with the good news of Jesus’ birth. Leave the ornaments and notes for your neighbors to give them a glimpse of God’s love this Christmas.