Tangible Acts of Christmas

Tangible Acts of Christmas

Christian love, as John Piper says, “is the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others” (Desiring God, 119). Often, we can’t foresee what people will need, but we can plan to reserve some time and money so that if needs arise, there are practical channels through which our love can flow to meet them.

I’ve been ruminating on a text of Scripture that has me rethinking how I’ve typically sought to share the gospel with others at Christmastime.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6–8)

This is the phrase that has stuck in my mind: “God shows his love for us.” And the word in that phrase that has particularly gripped me is shows. God shows his love for us.

When it comes to love, it’s a matter of show and tell (and often in that order). We know love when we both see it and hear it. Words are an essential dimension of how we show our love, but it’s our actions that prove the truth of our words. Love, like wisdom, “is justified by her deeds” (Matthew 11:19). Love, like faith, “if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).

And that’s what has me rethinking my approach to Christmas evangelism. I wonder if I have sought to love others with too much talk and not enough deeds.

By This We Know Love

You might recognize in my words the echo of another passage:

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16–18)

There it is again. We know God’s love for us by the way Jesus generously showed love toward us. And the way Jesus showed his love for us provides a profound model for how we as Christians are to show our love for one another.

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