Christmas is a time where generosity is normalized.  We give gifts to friends and family, donate financially to organizations, and provide presents to those in need in our community.  To some degree, a Christmas season without these components would feel like the Super Bowl without a football — a lot of activity in the stands without a lot of meaningful action on the field.

Have you ever stopped to consider where these demonstrations of love and compassion come from?  They don’t come from St. Nick . . . there is actually a source that informs his story.  It doesn’t come from IRS tax deductions to non-profits or Black Friday advertising . . . though both help encourage participation in the gifts of the season.   The generosity of Christmas comes from Jesus Himself.

The most appropriate way to honor the life of Jesus is to love and give to one another.  The Apostle John (one of Jesus’ closest earthly companions) summarized the response that we should have to Jesus this way:  “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)

John says that BECAUSE we have been loved by Jesus (who came to this earth for us and died on the cross for our sins) we should love others.  Jesus sacrificed for us . . . and when we understand this, it prompts us to sacrifice for others.  Specifically here, John encourages us to give (as we are able) to other “brothers” . . . other followers of Christ who are in need.  This is the most appropriate response to the generosity of Jesus.

Notice, John does not say that if we really understood the message of Christmas, we would say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”  It is not primarily a response of “words” or “talk.”  The truth of the Gospel instructs our “deeds” . . . the way we show generosity to others.

Interestingly, this response is not found in a passage of Scripture describing the Christmas story.  It is found in a letter John wrote to help people like you and me know what it looks like to follow Jesus.  Therefore, this response should not get boxed back up with your Christmas decorations.  It is a way of life as a Christ follower and should instruct our behavior year round.  

Today’s song “O Children Come” moves from the events of Bethlehem in verse 1 to our ongoing response to Jesus in verse 3.  As we see the “hurt and lost” let us “show the mercy shown to us.”  So, as we move past the Christmas holiday, may you give generously to your fellow Christians in need and to your church and other ministries.  As John (and this song) remind us . . . it is the right response for those who have come to the Son of God.

O Children Come

Hear the cry from Bethlehem

Oh children come

Son of God now born to man

Oh children come

Bring your troubles, bring your fears,

Bring the needs that drew you near,

Find the hope of all the years

Oh children come

Peace on earth, good will to men

Oh children come

Righteous rule that will not end

Oh children come

Lay down all your bitterness,

Turn from sin’s toil and distress,

Find His grace and perfect rest

Oh children come

Where the Father’s grace has walked

Oh children come

Where you see the hurt and lost

Oh children come

Show the mercy shown to you,

Gifts of kindness to renew

Love from hearts sincere and true

Oh children come


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