ADVENT CONNECTIONS: Love: The Essential Ingredient

1 Corinthians 13: 1-7 (NLT)

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

I admit it—I am not the greatest cook! I have a habit of missing key ingredients in the recipe. And as it happens, every Christmas my lack of culinary ability becomes the object of some good-natured jokes. My brother-in law is certain to bring up the topic: “Remember the time Daryl made baking powder biscuits and forgot to add baking powder?” or “Daryl, could you make that turkey chili again; but add the chili this time?” Okay, I get it—-recipes will not work if they are missing the essential ingredient.

What if there was a recipe for Christmas? What would be the essential ingredient—-the one that could not be missed? Take a moment to read 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3. Perhaps there is a Christmas recipe here. It certainly does not start like one of our recipes, though. Immediately, the apostle Paul identifies what cannot be left out! We may possess wonderful gifts of speech, understanding, knowledge, faith and self-sacrifice, but if we do not include love, well, an ingredient has been missed. We get it—-love is essential!

Paul then adds a few ingredients to our recipe. Continue reading verses 4-7. He notes what love is: patient, kind, hopeful, enduring, truthful and just. Additionally, love never gives up or loses faith. He notes the ingredients that are not part of love: jealousy, pride, rudeness, irritability, selfishness and injustice. Not an easy recipe for Christmas—-indeed, for any time of the year!

Of course, this idea of a Christmas recipe is inadequate. Still it is worthy of our consideration this advent season. It serves to remind us that love is the essential ingredient of Christmas. Christmas proclaims that love is a person, a baby, born of a virgin, sent by God who loves us beyond measure.

9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

1 John 4:9-10 (NLT)

While love cannot be confined to a recipe, love can be missed. The essential ingredient of Christmas is love in the person of Jesus. Let’s not miss him. For Christmas will not work otherwise.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for your love, a love demonstrated to us through the gift of your son, Jesus. Help us not to miss your love. And then, graciously help us to share this love with others this Christmas.

Contributed by Daryl Ginter