By Carol Round –“Do everything in love”—1 Corinthians 16:14 (NIV).
One of the things I love about this time of the year is the music, including the hymns and the contemporary versions of those songs. It’s interesting to read the stories of the songwriters and what inspired the lyrics they wrote.
“Love Came Down at Christmas” is one of my favorite hymns. Written by Christina Georgina Rossetti in 1885, the lyrics capture the essence of Christmas in one word—love.
One of the most well-known scriptures is John 3:16. “ For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV).
The Essence of Christmas
In his book titled Christmas Gifts That Won’t Break, author James W. Moore, writes, “Well, of course, the essence of Christmas is love. God’s incredible love for us, expressed when He sent His only Son into the world to save us. ‘Love Came Down at Christmas’—that’s how the hymn writer puts it. That’s the answer to our question. Whenever and wherever we receive God’s sacrificial love, whenever and wherever God’s love is accepted and shared, Christmas comes once again.”
Moore explains it this way. “When we, like the shepherds, fall down in awe, wonder and commitment before the manger of God’s love, there is Christmas! When, like the three wise men, give our best to the Master, there is Christmas! When we, like Mary and Joseph, trust and obey God and try our best to do God’s will, there is Christmas.”
In other words, we can celebrate Christmas every day of the year. It’s not just a time to put up a tree and decorate. Buying and giving gifts isn’t the meaning of Christmas—even though we like surprising our loved ones.
Christmas Happens When We Love Others
In Matthew 25:31-45, Jesus’ parable about the sheep and the goats, reinforces a lesson He taught about love. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…’” (NIV).
During this time of year, we’re usually in a giving mood. Caught up in the Christmas spirit, we’re more generous. Donations to food pantries, coat and toy drives, and financial help to charities, increase as people are filled with Christmas joy.
1 John 3:18 reminds us that “our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action” (GNT). Love is an action verb. Love is the basis of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He’s our role model for loving others. Once we accept Him as our Savior, His love dwells in our hearts. It’s unconditional love and we didn’t do anything to deserve it. So, how can we love like Jesus?
Loving Others Like Jesus
First, we can show kindness to everyone we meet. Whether it’s our family, our neighbors, a co-worker, or a stranger, we can choose to be kind (See Ephesians 4:32). Second, we can pray for others and not just when they’re facing trials. When we have nothing else to offer, we can pray for them, trusting God will answer (See Ephesians 6:18).
Third, before we can love another, we must love ourselves. This means we must receive God’s love, which is freely given (See Matthew 22:29). Fourth, show patience. Each day, we encounter people who are different from us and we have no clue what battles they are facing (See Ephesians 4:2).
Finally, one of the most difficult choices we face is loving our enemies. However, when we choose to love our enemies, we’re doing so because Christ lives in us (See Matthew 5:44). When we choose love each day, then we can share the greatest gift of all, not just at Christmas but always.