Yesterday, my husband continued our series, The Spirit of Christmas, with another perspective changing message. Last week, Shawn reminded us that the true spirit of Christmas is love – agape love….God’s kind of love….love without warrant…..love without strings. This week, Shawn opened our eyes to what that love really looks like. Ephesians 1: 4-8 (NLT) paints a vivid picture of how God loves you and me. As Shawn read the verses to us, he explained the deep meaning of the words. It went something like this:
“Even before He made the world (long before we had anything to offer), God loved (longed to intimately know us) us and chose us (He deliberately chose you and me) in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes (are we without fault? NO WAY! But, because of the sacrifice of Jesus, God chooses to see us that way! He overlooks our faults). God decided in advance (again, He chose to love us first!) to adopt us into His own family by bringing to us Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted (not out of obligation or afterthought) to do, and it gave Him great pleasure (loving you and me brings God pleasure – let that sink in). So (so, now that we understand how much God loves us, what is our response?) we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered (He lavishly, cheerfully, and generously gives) His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”
God didn’t give the minimum-to-get-by kind of gift. No, He gave generously. What a model for us to follow. My Father loves generously and that makes me want to do the same. I want to serve His church out of a sense of love and gratitude, not out of obligation. I want to spend time with Him out of a hunger to know Him more, not out of guilt. I want to bless Him with my financial resources out of a desire to honor Him with my best, not reluctantly or hesitantly.
So, let’s take Shawn’s challenge. Let’s surprise the people around us with acts of GENEROUS love! Go the extra mile this week and love a family member, neighbor, or friend. Love someone who is hard to love. Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it. Help out around the house. Meet a need….and a want. But, go even further. Consider your relationship with your Heavenly Father. How can you love Him generously? Could you spend more time with Him this week? Could you be more available to Him? Could you humble yourself in obedience in some way?
The spirit of Christmas is love….generous love. What will you do with it?
By the way, Shawn said much more that shouldn’t be missed. You can watch the entire message here later today and in the MLC archives after that.