What Does Love Mean?

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. –1 John 4:8-10

A group of 4-to-8 year-olds were asked the question, “What does love mean?” As usual with children, the answers often offer wisdom. Bobby — age 7 — said this, “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”

God’s love expresses itself to us in innumerable and immeasurable ways. He is love, the only true and pure essence of it. God most clearly expressed His love when He sent His Son to be our Redeemer. This Christmas, take time to love as God loves you: sacrificially, humbly, faithfully and joyfully. And as 7-year-old Bobby said, as you gather with your family this holiday, take time to push aside the hustle and bustle of the season to listen closely. For the greatest gift was given in Bethlehem. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke 2:10-12)

In the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the “love chapter.” Someone has created a special Christmas version (author unknown) of this chapter. I share it here, as it provides practical insight into how we can love as God loves, specifically at Christmastime.

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just a decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the tree with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on my love for Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

GOING DEEPER:
1. Write down three tangible ways you can actively love those around you this Christmas.

2. As you open presents this Christmas, take a moment to halt the ripping of paper and encourage your family to think about the incredible Gift we celebrate each Christmas.

FURTHER READING:
John 3:16; Romans 8:38-39; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

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Kelly McFadden

Kelly McFadden

Kelly McFadden is a wife and mother and is part of the HomeWord daily devotional writing team. Kelly graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2000 with a degree in journalism. Following a season of playing professional volleyball and training with the US National team, Kelly returned to school and received her Masters in Christian Education from Azusa Pacific University.

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