Too many times in our personal relationships, we seek to benefit from someone else at their expense. We want others to sacrifice for us. We want glory and praise, and we sure get upset if we don’t receive them! Sadly, our idea of “love” isn’t really love at all. It is more of an egotistical competition instead of the love we see in Jesus’ ministry.
Jesus once shared a timeless message from Matthew 7:24-27…
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
When we hear the word of God and put it into practice, we obviously build up our life on a solid foundation.
This issue connects with the topic of love. God teaches us time and time again to love our neighbors. This isn’t just a commandment from Jesus. We literally find this in every corner of the bible! Without loving others, we are like the foolish builder who decided to stay in the sand. We do not put the commands of God into practice if we lack love in our lives. In fact, according to 1 John 4, an unloving heart actually means we don’t know God.
As we saw on Sunday, the primary way we ought to view love is through the lens of Christ. Jesus is the fullest image of God and shows humanity exactly what love looks like. Biblical love is not some abstract ideal. It is not even a feeling. Instead, love itself is a person… and that person is Jesus Christ! The agape kind of love we read about in the bible is perfectly generous and considerate of others.
So how loving are you? How do you behave when it comes to interacting with family members, your spouse, or close friends? I invite you consider these Advent-focused reflection questions…
During the Christmas season, do you “keep score” when it comes to gift giving? Are you always thinking about the price and how it supposedly correlates with how much the other person loves you? Do you get jealous when seeing what others receive?
Hopefully we are more like Jesus in that we don’t keep silly records like this. The greatest gifts we could ever receive cannot be bought at the store or online. True love is not envious.
Do you always plan on others to cater to your needs? Are you usually the recipient of the good of others?
Whether it is helping out in the kitchen, volunteering at a shelter, or donating to a Christmas charity, there are countless ways to serve others. God’s agape love in the bible always considers what other people need. It means we become less selfish. Surely we can further develop this throughout the Christmas season.
How is your overall attitude as we get closer to December 25th? Do you get burdened with calendar activities? Do you dwell on what goes wrong? Do you even develop resentment or hopelessness?
Christmas is all about God’s love. Tragically many people forget that during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We could all use a reminder to be more loving in order to celebrate the birth of Christ.