I recently engaged in an exercise in which we listed every quality that we could think of under the umbrella of love. What does it mean to love someone?

What we came up with included sacrificial, everlasting, enduring, joy, peace, kind, patient, powerful, active, trustworthy, truthful, faithful, merciful, gracious, selfless, others-focused, persevering, not envious, not boastful, honest, forgiving, pure.

The only being capable of exemplifying everything in this list is God. Moreover, this list could apply equally well as a rudimentary description of God. A complete picture of God would also include spatial, intellectual, and other qualifications, but from an emotional standpoint, God is love. God is the only perfect instantiation of the qualities inherent to love.

The apostle John, in 1 John, makes this claim.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8

The love that John is talking about is not romantic love or love between family members. It is not the type of love found in close friendships. The love that John describes, agape love, is not inherently found in people, a genuine love for mankind as a whole, irrespective of race, gender, or any other differences. It is only ever initiated by God. It is this love through which Jesus died in our place, making possible the forgiveness of sins.

He goes on to say that God’s love is perfected in us when we abide in Him and He in us. Imperfect love is one-sided and incomplete. God’s love for us is perfected when we reciprocate the love that he pours into our lives, loving Him in return. We demonstrate our love for Him by obeying His commandments and loving our fellow human beings who bear and reflect His image. We display our love for him when we trust him and take him at his word.

There is no better time of year than Christmas to celebrate the manifestation of God’s love in human form through the incarnation of Jesus.

Jesus set aside the glory He held with the Father to be born in humble circumstances, living life through our eyes to die in our place.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.-! John 4:9-10

We do not deserve it. It’s not as if we loved God first and sought after Him, and as a result, He chose to save us. Every human aside from Jesus is born in sin and is unrighteous.

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good, not even one.” -Romans 3:10-12

Our salvation is all God and his love for us while sinners.

The problem is sin separating us from God. The answer is Jesus.

Jesus experienced temptation in every way that we do, yet lived a sinless life. He understood, first hand, what it was like to be a baby, toddler, teenager, and young adult on His way to adulthood, encountering trials and struggles just as we do. He could have given up and removed himself at any time from the difficulties of life. But He didn’t.

Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross. He could have avoided the pain and suffering that He experienced. At any time, He could have called down a host of angels to attend to His needs. Yet He endured, not for His sake but for ours.

Saving Himself was not the goal. God’s nature compelled Him to spare no cost to save us. Out of love, Jesus suffered and died to rescue us from eternal damnation.

It is for this reason that we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate Emmanuel, God with us, the birth of the Christ child who would die for the sins of the world.

If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, bow your head before God and repent of your sins. Pray and ask God for the forgiveness made possible through the blood of Jesus.

There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves. But thanks to God, there is nothing that we need to do except humble ourselves and accept the finished work of Jesus on the cross as our gift from Him.

Praise God and worship the Lord Jesus this Christmas season and celebrate the birth of our risen savior!

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.