The greatest expression of true love is sacrifice and surrender – not for a friend, but rather, for an enemy. Lay your life down for a friend? Sure. Lay your life down for your enemy? I’d like to say yes, but probably no.
Other than Easter, this season reminds me of this more than any other time of the year. And why shouldn’t it? People set aside their agendas for thirty days to decorate their homes, purchase-receive-and give gifts, attend church, give time or money to a charity they care for, and travel miles to be with loved ones. Why? Some, probably because they feel that they have to out of necessity. Others, love.
So why shouldn’t Christmas be about love with all the giving and cheer that infuses the air this time of year. Seems like a given, don’t you think?
Yet, despite of all of the action this season, the ultimate example of love is the love of God. His love is far deeper that the trite “love” that fills this time of year. His love was ultimately demonstrated in the sacrifice of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
How can we love like that? Let’s follow Joseph’s example.
I attended services at Church of the Open Door this morning and the message revolved around Joseph’s choosing to follow God’s call and love Mary and the unborn child she carried in spite of himself and his culture. He sacrificed the what ifs and the either/ors to follow God’s will and love that Child as if He were his own.
The speaker at this morning’s service also spoke of another Joseph, hundreds of years before Jesus’ time. Take a glimpse at Genesis 37-45.
Joseph had many brothers, was his father’s favorite and was hated by his older brothers. They beat him and had thought about leaving him for dead, but chose then to sell him into slavery. He was sold again in Egypt and served in Potiphar’s house. Potiphar’s wife accused him of sleeping with her and Joseph was thrown in prison for it. He remained there until the cup-bearer remembered the dream-reader and Joseph was summoned to read Pharoh’s dream about the seven years of surplus and seven years of famine. Joseph was then placed in charge of everything and, in a wild turn of events, his brothers were the very ones who came to him for help during those seven years of famine. Did Joseph get his revenge and send them back, empty-handed?
He may have wanted to, but he didn’t. Read what he says:
Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God…
In much the same way, Mary’s fiancé, Joseph didn’t quietly divorce Mary as he had contemplated. Instead, he chose to love her and stick around to raise the son of God.
Have you experienced a love like that? Have you given love like that?
It’s humanly impossible.
Only God can give that you that type of love. Only God can love you that way through the love of others. And only God can love others that way through you.