Monday, December 23, 2013

Herein is Love

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”—1 John 4:10

“We love him, because he first loved us.”—1 John 4:19

Snowflakes on the ground. Colored lights on frosted windows. Wreaths hung and trees decorated.* Families visiting. Cookies baked. Presents wrapped. Fires lit. Dinners cooked. And hot chocolate sipped.

‘Tis the Season of this annual festival of joy that brings back warm memories of times spent in laughter, wonder and closeness with those who are nearest our hearts. (I know this may not be the case for everyone, and I hope that for them, each year, their hearts heal a little more.)

It has also come to be the time in which Christians traditionally reflect on our Savior’s birth. How He was born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger—a scene that is illustrated in myriad ways across the globe, in church plays, humble scripture readings, and in simple crèches in homes and on lawns. 

This is the true meaning of the season for many. With that said, I recently read an article about how Christ was not really born on this day (something I have heard before), but that He was most likely incarnated in Mary’s womb around this time (something I have not heard before). So, December 25 could have been the moment that God became flesh for us. What a tremendous thought and a glorious thing to celebrate!

There is yet another theme I am reflecting on this particular season: love, specifically God’s love for us and our love for God and others. God’s love for us can be summed up upon reading the passages I chose to begin this devotion above, in addition to probably the most popular verse in the New Testament:

“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

The best section of Scripture, in my estimation, about how our love should be toward others is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

We can be the most eloquent of speakers proclaiming the truth, and yet, if we have not love in the proclamation, we speak as the clinging of brass instruments. Not a pretty sound at all! (1 Corinthians 13:1)

We can have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have all faith, and yet without charity, we are nothing and our works are nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)

We can sell all that we have to feed the poor and we can sacrifice our bodies to be burned, and yet, without love, those things do not profit us. They become empty sacrifices. (1 Corinthians 13:3)

And then, if those things are not convicting enough, there is more we ought to know about how charity is expressed through us:

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”—1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Two areas resonate to me especially: “Charity suffereth long (or is long suffering) … [and] is not easily provoked.”

Goodness, how just those two descriptions of charity convict me and show me I have a lot to learn in my Christian love. See, I know I am often impatient with others, and I get mad hastily, often with the slightest provocation.

I know I have grown much in this area, mainly because of and through my relationship with my husband. He has been a great teacher and guide for me in these areas. But I don’t want to stop growing. I want to be more loving, more charitable, toward others than I have ever before.

Would not that be the greatest present I could give to my family and loved ones during this season of giving?

It would simply be a small reflection of the love Christ has shown all of us when He became flesh and bore the penalty of our sins upon Himself through His death on the cross, so that we could be justified freely and fully to live eternally with Him.

Lord Jesus, may those same words You used Paul to write in 1 Corinthians 13 be written on the tablets of my heart, so that You may ever and always be glorified in me, not just this one time of the year, when many of us gather together to celebrate the moment You became flesh or the day You were born.

 (*I mean no disrespect to my brothers and sisters in Christ who believe strongly against decorating trees based on their reading of Jeremiah 10. I respect their freedom of conscience. I also respect the freedom of conscience of those who do not have that belief.)

Cal Poly Poinsettias (San Luis Obispo, CA)

1 comment:

Four for France said...

Beautiful thoughts! Merry Christmas.

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