“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.—John 3:16-17 MSG

At the very heart of Christmas is love. There wouldn’t be a Christmas without it. God loved His only Son so much that He sent Him to earth, fully knowing that Jesus would have to die for the sins of the whole world. Take a minute and imagine this, as a parent. It’s your only son, your pride-and-joy, the child you’ve loved and nurtured his whole life, yet you choose to sign his death sentence, a sacrificial lamb, to save a bunch of ungrateful sinners like us.

And Jesus willingly went. That’s a lot of love.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.—John 15:13 NIV

Journal: Share a time when someone showed great love for you by sacrificing something important to them so they could help you. Have you done something like that for someone else?

We say we love our family and friends. If given a chance, we’re sure we could prove it. But do we really love like God did? There was no pretty wrapping or ribbon tied in a bow. They didn’t even have a tree. The gift He gave didn’t have a price tag, for it is priceless. Jesus was the greatest gift of all.

Read: 1 John 4:7-21

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.—1 John 4:11-12 NIV

In a world full of opinions, differences, and agendas, we often forget our call to love. It’s easy to get caught up in our need to be right. That’s human nature. In truth, we don’t need to agree to show others love. Jesus was the perfect example.

Remember the story of Zacchaeus? He was a wealthy chief tax collector who stole from the people. When he heard that Jesus was traveling through town, he ran to see Him. A short man in stature, he could not see over the crowds, so he climbed into the nearest tree. As Jesus passed by, He stopped and looked up at the miserly thief. Zacchaeus was not well-liked, but this did not influence Jesus.

When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”—Luke 19:5-7 MSG

Because Jesus took the time to stop and show Zaccheaus love even though he didn’t deserve it, Zachhaeus was forever changed.

Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.” Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”—Luke 19:8-10 MSG

Journal: Share an experience where you struggled to love someone because you did not agree. How is that relationship now?

In a world full of sin, we are called to love.
In a world full of division, we are called to love.
In a world full of unbelief, we are called to love.
In a world full of rejection, we are called to love.
In a world full of pain, we are called to love.

No matter what we face each day, we are called to love others as God so graciously loves us.
We love because he first loved us.—1 John 4:19 NLT

Activation: Look up the following verses and write down who we are called to love in each verse.
  • Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 11
  • Job 6:14
  • Psalm 82:2-4
  • Proverbs 3:27
  • Proverbs 17:17
  • Isaiah 1:17
  • Zecharaiah 7:9
  • Luke 6:35-36
  • Romans 12:9-10

God, You are the reason for the season! You love me so much that You gave Your Son as a sacrificial gift to save me. The magnitude of that statement overwhelms my heart. Just as You have shown Your love to me, I pray that I too can show others such love. Help me to see others as You see me. Help me to treat others as You treat me. Help me to show grace to others as You show grace to me. Help me to love others as You love me each and every day, even when it’s hard. Thank you, God. Amen
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