We are in the midst of the season of giving. We’re surrounded with reminder upon reminder of those in need. These pictures seem to have gone viral on the internet and may be the perfect motivators, pushing us to give, give, give, compelling us to pray for those in need, and to reach out to the unreached.
Oh how great the need is! How my heart aches when faced with such devastation. I think these images affect us so deeply because we cannot deny their validity. Families and children are suffering and we are not. Simple as that. And the question lingers, “But what can I do?”
What do I do with all of this? How can I make a difference? There are numerous ministries in place we can participate in such as Operation Christmas Child. We can help out in our shelters and food banks. Or we can simply support local families in need. And as we reach out to the least of these, we reach out to Jesus Himself (Matt 25:35-40). What a great way to celebrate the Christmas season. Or is it?
There is so much focus this time of year regarding those suffering from poverty and hardships, and as great as this need is, there is a greater need: The need for LOVE. “Giving and serving is love” you say. My response: Yes, Jesus demonstrated the greatest love of all by giving Himself up for us and becoming a Servant. However, He also cautioned us, and this Christmas season, I offer you the same simple caution regarding giving, serving, working hard, and the state of your heart.
“I know your works, you labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And that you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Rev 2:2-4).
Jesus spoke these words for the church of Ephesus, the same church Paul boasted in regarding their faith and love toward God and the saints (Eph 1:15). This same church that was once dead and God made alive (Eph 2:1). What happened? How did this body of believers go from one extreme to the other? Jesus goes on to tell them “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works” (Rev 2:5). What are these first works that they fell from? LOVE. These believers fell head over heels in LOVE with their God and Savior. However, they became so caught up with serving and giving that they forgot the greatest Servant and Giver and left their First Love.
Jesus said “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good” (Mk 14:7). I am in no way implying we are to neglect the poor (1 Jn 3:17). Rather, I seek to remind you, as He is reminding me, that without love, all is worthless. This Christmas season, let us not neglect the One we celebrate. Let us not replace Him with serving, giving, working, and doing good. Instead, let us serve, give, work, and do good because our First Love compels us to. After all, what is CHRISTmas without LOVE for the Christ?
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but
have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging
cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and
understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and
though I have all faith, so that I could remove
mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed
the poor, and though I give my body to
be burned, but have not love,
it profits me nothing.
-1 Corinthians 13:1-3
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