Throughout my childhood, and even in my 20s, I really didn’t like my birthday. Everyone else had a special, designated day that their families and friends celebrated THEM, but I celebrate my birthday on the biggest international holiday of the year. My birthday presents were often wrapped in Christmas paper… And like every other Christmas-born person, I knew to expect the combo gifts — “This is your Christmas AND Birthday present.” I grumbled to the ones I was closest to, but once you get into your 30’s and 40’s, it’s not really a big deal anymore… But until this year, I didn’t fully appreciate the honor of sharing my birthday with the reason we celebrate this day: Jesus Christ. But what a privilege it is!!!!
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6
Today feels like my own personal New Year. It’s my own new journey around the sun and this year, the Son will be a daily part of my trip.
Every day, I read a New Living Translation One Year Chronological Bible… So unlike many today, whose Christian reading plans may take them to the story of Christ’s birth, my Bible is going in order as events unfolded…I read about the birth of Jesus back in September. Instead, this morning, I read a passage from 1 John 4:7-21… Click the link to read the whole passage, but for this exercise, I’m only copying a few select verses… Side note — I tend to use various translations. Though I read a NLT version of the Bible, I almost always post verses from the New King James Version and occasionally cross-reference to The Message. For the sake of consistency, the NKJV is what is below:
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. ~1 John 4:9
Today is not just about a birthday. It’s about the fact that Jesus took on a human form so that we could live! He came to earth knowing full well that He was going to die and be the sacrificial atonement for OUR sins… not His. OURS. Jesus — the perfect, blameless Lamb of God, who never sinned, willingly accepted the punishment for ours.
THAT is love.
A love that defies our understanding, but which we can freely accept and through that love, live forever!
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. ~1 John 4:11
With a love as great as that, who are we to grumble and complain about others? The Bible tells us repeatedly that we should love our neighbors as ourselves… yet, we live in such a loveless society.
In fact, acts of love are so random and rare, people turn to social media to share the occasional “good deed” because they are so out of the ordinary, we feel we have to celebrate them when we see them. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were the exact opposite — acts of love and goodness be so often, they were commonplace?
We celebrate someone who leaves a big tip for the single-mother waitress and let that story go viral… giving accolades to someone for simply doing something nice. While it’s great that the big tip helps out the waitress, does it ever bother you a bit? Not the act itself, but the way in which we smother the giver in accolades for simply being a decent person?
When our Lord and Savior took on the role of a human being so He could come to earth and DIE for us… shouldn’t THAT be the story we celebrate?? Shouldn’t the good news about God’s love be what is going viral? It’s certainly the biggest act of love I’ve ever read about… because it IS the biggest act of love ever given!!!
We love Him because He first loved us. ~1 John 4:19
This was interesting to me as I was writing this blog… as previously mentioned, this verse is the NKJV. However, in the Bible that I read (again, NLT), this verse says, “We love each other because he loved us first.”
NKJV says, “We love Him.” NLT says, “We love each other.”
We are commanded to love others, and through that love we show, we demonstrate love for God. It works either way.
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. ~John 15:12-13
As I start my own personal new year, this time, walking with Jesus, this is my own personal new year’s resolution: To live out the love that God asks us to live. To remember that the greatest love story ever told began with the creation of the world, and came to earth two thousand years before my birthday. To remember that if He could love me so much, the least I can do let His love be a reflection in my own life… and to truly love others as I’m commanded to do… without expecting rewards and accolades from others, but doing it out of obedience to God and the simple joy of doing something that I know makes God happy…
Merry Christmas to all of you….
Jesus, I’m sorry for ever complaining about being born on the day we celebrate You. It is an honor to have the distinction of connecting my birthday with the day we honor YOUR birthday. Thank you for coming to earth as a baby… to live a perfect, sinless life… to teach others about Your truth… to be our great Shepherd, the Shepherd who was willing to lay down His own life for His sheep, and then, conquer death when You rose from the grave three days later. Your death and resurrection paved the way… it bridged the gap, enabling us to find redemption and forgiveness. Your grace saves us…and it all happened because You love us with the purest, truest, most unconditional love… a love greater than we can even fathom. Thank you, dear Jesus… and Happy Birthday!