“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Why is patience listed first in God's definition of love? Couldn't He have listed something greater like courageous, faithful, or joyful? Perhaps He did this because He knew we have so little of patience. Love doesn't tap its foot and yell “hurry up!” when their dinner isn't on time. Love is waiting for your family, friends, strangers, and God's timing. If you can't do that, you've missed the first definition of love. Patience may not seem like much, but sometimes the smallest act of patience is the greatest act of love. If God wasn't so patient, the ungodly would have perished long ago.
Kindness follows patience by the heel. Kindness should not be restricted to the needy but extended to all, whether they're rich, poor, happy, sad, friend, or enemy. Your kindness doesn't have to be grand; it can be as simple as carrying the groceries in for your mom or listening to a friend's troubles. I've found family is the best place to plant kindness before sowing it to the world. If we can't be kind to those we love the most, how can we be kind to outsiders? The next time you're tempted to go off and do your own stuff, stop and think about what you can do to help those around you. You might be surprised how many opportunities you'll find if you look hard enough.
Sometimes the clearest way to describe something is by stating what it's not. White is not black, rocks are not pillows, and love is not jealous. What if you entered a story contest and your friend won instead? Would you pout or would you toss confetti your friend’s way? What if your coworker was always buying new clothes while you could barely afford to pay the electric bill? Would your attitude be grumpy towards them or friendly? God provides each individual with what they need, not with what they've dreamed. Strike jealousy with the rod of contentment and you will be able to be happy for those who have all you've ever wanted, whether it's friends, prestige, or money.
On the flip side, while the poor should not be envious, the rich should not try to compel them to be so. Owning nice things is not wrong, but flaunting them is. You shouldn't go on how much your car cost or how cool your new iPhone is when the person sitting next to you is dressed in rags. Nor should you ram your successes down someone else's throat. That's not to say all boasting is sinful; sharing the good news of a job promotion or celebrating your first book sale with friends is nothing shameful. They're happy to hear of your good fortune just as you are happy to hear about theirs. It's the when, where, who, and how of your boasting that determines whether or not it's sinful.
Ironically, love loves everyone except itself. Arrogant people cannot love others because they are too busy loving themselves. Christ is a brilliant example of humble love. Even though everyone was beneath Him, but He did not treat them so. He didn't play favorites and neither should we. He ate with sinners (Matthew 9:10) as well as rabbis (Luke 7:36). In one chapter, He converses with a respected ruler (John 3:1-21), and in the next with a social outcast (4:7-26). Surely if Jesus stooped to wash His disciples feet, surely we can stoop to wash our fellow man's!
Love has many forms. True love, puppy love, cat love, friendship love—love can be twisted into almost every size, shape, and direction. Love has varying intensities, and rightly so, for it would not do for us to love our mom the same way we love chocolate. Love should characterize Christians as light characterizes the sun; yet anyone can love, even someone as despicable as Judas Iscariot. So then it is not love that distinguishes us from unbelievers, but it's the type of love that sets us apart.
Ten million words couldn't describe this love. Only a god could expound on such love, and He did in only thirteen verses.
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Before God could expound on love, He must first lay the foundation of its importance. He never said we'd be less of a Christian if we had no love, but that we are nothing without it. An unloving Christian is not a Christian at all. Love is a Christian’s heart and without it we are just dead robots who have no hope or feelings. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen,” (1 John 4:20).
Good works should not be substituted for love any more than baking soda should be substituted for flour. Like baking powder, they are a necessary ingredient in our lives but they should not constitute the base, unless you want others to gag. But is it possible for good works to done apart from love? Yes. Sometimes a person donates just because they see that everyone else is being charitable. Some people go to church just because they always have and their good works become mindless routine. However, usually good deeds are done in love—love of self. If I rescue an infant from a burning house so I can get my face in the newspaper or if I travel to Asia as a missionary only to hear “Isn't she so godly?” my sacrifices become filthy rags.
Sound doctrine is essential to our faith. We'd plunge into sin and temptation without it. It is the string which unites believers together, even if they live miles apart. Yet even the jewels of wisdom can become sharp and destructive if it is not set in the golden ring of love. I think God would probably have more mercy on a hateful criminal than on a hateful pastor. Even demons know the truth (James 2:19). The Ephesian church in Revelation 2:1-7 taught the truth, exposing error, but they lacked love. God threatened to remove their lampstand if their heart didn't start beating again.
Lovelessness is perhaps the greatest problem of the modern church. They shake your hand and bid you hello but their care rarely extends beyond that. It shouldn't be that way. Love is a blazing fire, not a flickering ember that blows out with the slightest breeze. A fire takes a ton of wood and love requires a ton of work to make it grow. Why is it that no one wants to take the time to gather the sticks? When we are tempted to let the fire die, let us remember that we are worthless ashes without that fire.
God’s Word is very special indeed,
More than anything I’ll ever need.
It is a pillow of comfort to rest my weary head,
The satisfying food with which I long to be fed,
The water that quenches my strongest thirst,
The shelter that protects me from the worst,
The loving teacher who guides me to the path of light,
The law that informs me of what’s wrong and what’s right,
The candle that lights up the darkest room,
The song of joy in the midst of gloom,
The sword that pierces the stiff-necked soul,
The shield that blocks every fiery coal,
The compass that guides my way,
The jewel worth more than I could pay,
The fire that warms the coldest hearts,
The soap that cleanses my dirtiest parts,
The medicine that heals all sickness,
The helper in my weakness,
The seed that plants a fruitful vine,
The letter from the One who is divine,
It is all I long for, hope, and dream,
The very words of Him who can redeem,
These things you may know too,
But what is God’s Word to you?
This was originally published on Kingdom Pen.
“Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’ ” (Matthew 1:22-23)
For a few years, God walked, talked, and dwelt among us in bodily form. This was an entirely new phenomenon. Before then, God was merely a cloud of fire and whoever dared approach Him met death. But Jesus could be spoken to, seen, and touched, almost as if He were a normal human being. He seemed like an average baby to the undiscerning eye. There was no halo above His head and His parents were common folk no different from you or me. But underneath this little babe’s skin beat the heart of a Divine King.
None of Jesus’s names are as comforting as Immanuel. We can clearly see how God was with us when Christ was born, but He is with us now too. The only difference is that we can't see Him. There never has been and never will be a moment when He isn't with us. He may not dwell on earth, but He dwells in our hearts. At times we may feel as if He's left, but He hasn't. He may have have taken a few steps away, but don't worry, you're never out of His sight.
Remember this Christmas Eve that He is with us just as much as that first Christmas two thousand years ago.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)
The town of Bethlehem was bustling, probably fuller than it had ever been before. People were everywhere, making the place a torture chamber for introverts. Probably citizens of every class and religion were there, rich and poor, believers and atheists. It is significant that out of all these hoards, not even one noticed the Messiah’s birth. Surely there must have been at least one rabbi who had studied the prophets and would have seen the signs! But no, not even they cared. Everyone was too busy in their own affairs.
The inn had no room for Him and the world seems to have no room for Him either. They are looking extremely hard for a Savior, but not Him. All the well-trained rabbis would have known the facts about the coming Christ, yet they failed to recognize Him. The world knows much about religion and being religious, but they fail to recognize the One to whom their religion points. If they had acknowledged Him, they still would have rejected Him. They didn't want God, they wanted a superhero who would feed their gaping mouths without even requiring a thank you.
It is sad when God is in our midst yet we fail to see Him. It wasn't those in Bethlehem who recognized the King, but those in the fields. Sometimes those deepest in religion are the farthest from God, and sometimes the farthest from religion God chooses to bring the closest to Him. “Be ye quite assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian, and that your being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it—the being born again as a subject of Jesus Christ.” * God is near to each one of us and I pray God will open our eyes to see that. Is there room for Him in your heart?
*C.H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume Three (Hendrickson Publishers, 2016), 212.
The story of Christ's birth is miraculous. But it is more than a story; it is a historical fact. It is one of the few Bible stories that is universally known, but the common retelling differs from the original narrative. Aspects of the biblical account have been fictionalized and the alterations are regarded as fact.
"And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:7)
Christ is always depicted as being born in a stable. But if you were to examine Luke's entire chronicle, he does not mention a stable even once. A manger is a food trough for animals and since He was laid in a manger, it is assumed that He must have been born in a stable. An old tradition suggests He was born in a cave (The MacArthur Study Bible, page 1481, note on 2:7). Since Scripture does not expressly state the place, no one can be certain whether it was or wasn't a stable. I have no qualms if someone portrays His birthplace as in a stable, because there's no proof He wasn't. All we know is that He wasn't born in the inn. However, all this should be taken in consideration, remembering tradition isn't necessarily fact. Regardless of His birthplace, there is a part of the nativity scene that is undoubtedly falsified.
"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.' When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, 'In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: "And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel." ' Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.' After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matt. 2:1-11)
Three elements are wrong with the three kings. First, as the account above shows, the number of the men isn't cited. They brought three different gifts, hence the notion of three men giving them. Maybe there were three—or four, or five, or ten—but since time machines haven't been invented for us to travel back and ask them, it's best if we remain silent as to their number.
Secondly, they weren't kings. Matthew repeatedly refers to them as "magi"—never "kings." I don't think Matthew would have insulted a king by simply calling him a magi. Therefore, the song We Three Kings should be more accurately rendered, We Wise Men.
Lastly, they did not arrive immediately after Jesus's birth. He was probably at least a few months old when they visited Him. Joseph and Mary had taken a more permanent residence in a house (v. 11), indicating time had elapsed. Herod must have thought Jesus was older than a newborn since he ordered all male babies under two executed (v. 16).
These modifications to the story of Christ's birth might seem inconsequential. After all, they don't attack any major biblical doctrines. But the smallest deviation stains the pure tablet of truth and breaks its authority.
Another reason is that it poses a great danger to the youthful mind. Ken Ham found that those who attended Sunday school were more prone to be antichurch because their teachers were presenting the Bible in the same manner a person would tell Hansel and Gretal, Cinderella, and other fanciful stories ("Going, Going...Gone," Answers Magazine, July/Aug./Sept. 2011, page 125). We should never fictionalize any Bible passage; it could have dire consequences. Charles Spurgeon wrote “Let us never teach even the least error to a little child, for it may live on and become a great heresy long after we are dead” (C.H. Spurgeon, Commentary on Matthew: The Gospel of the Kingdom, 440).
Cute little elves don't exist, but angels do. Santa may not deliver gifts, but God bestows us with the gift of salvation. Even though we shouldn't tell The Night Before Christmas as if it were fact, that shouldn't keep us from spreading the true Christmas story! How could St. Nick’s presents ever compare with God’s gift
Mariposa is a self-taught artist and aspiring children's author who captures the glories of God's creation on paper. She has a Ph.D. in creativity and a master's degree in imagination.
Aberdeen is a book-eating, ink-drinking dinosaur from the createtus period. When he isn't falling into plot holes or taking cover from the volcano of ideas, he's hanging out with Dee-Dee the doodledactyl. Read full bio