My favorite part of Christmas time is the aspect of generosity – so much giving and so much receiving.
I don’t know about you, but personally, I fancy whimsy quite a bit. In fact, I absolutely live for moments of extravagance. When I love a person, it becomes so powerful inside of my being that I HAVE to do something to express that love. Usually I come up with some elaborate plan or buy an extravagant gift.
I was the teen who saved up all of my babysitting money for months in order to surprise my dad with two tickets to see his favorite baseball team on his birthday. Not just any ticket would do – the best seats available. (Just to give you an example).
Maybe this sounds like a good thing, but over the past couple of months God has taught me something very pivitol in regard to this.
Recently, I had a falling out with one of my best friends. My natural response was to find an extravagant way of expressing my love to this person in order to reconcile our relationship. And honestly, I came up with one of my most whimsical plans. I won’t go into detail but let’s just say that it involved a guitar and a lot of intensity. I was going to go all out and I was determined that this relationship would be reconciled.
But then God caught my attention – through Christmas (naturally).
I realized that when humanity had a falling out with God, He could have come for us elaborately. He could have come with extravagant scavenger hunts and whimsical gestures.
He is far too patient for that.
I think He knew that this kind of intensity would have overwhelmed us. Perhaps we couldn’t have even fully received it.
Instead, He reconciled our relationship and won our affections through the most humble way possible.
“Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. Every statesmen trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden. How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and crowned her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist – no one dared resist him. But would she love him?
She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she be happy at his side? How could he know? If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort and waiving a bright banner, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let love share the gulf between them. For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal.” (Kierkegaard, Disappointment with God)
Take a moment to really reflect on the story of Jesus. The God of all majesty chose to be born in human flesh. He destined Himself to suffer and ultimately die – in order to have relationship with us.
There is simply no more humble way that God could have come for our hearts. And perhaps that is because there is simply no other way we could have received His love. Without humility, he could not have obtained our affection and reconciled our relationship. (the relationship that WE screwed up in the first place).
Wow. My acts of extravagant love are actually the most selfish form of love imaginable.
They are filled with impatience. And they are honestly kind of lazy as they are the easiest, most fun way for me to express my love with the least amount of sacrifice.
In addition to this, I realized there is also a hint of pride in my extravagant way of loving. If my actions of love could speak they might flaunt about and say “Look at me, I love you so well!”.
That reeks of self-righteousness.
God’s love never says, “Look at me, I love you so well!”. In fact, most of the love He gives is so humble in essence that it goes unnoticed. And when it is noticed, it may talk and instead say something like, “Look at you, you are worth it!”. There is not one ounce of pride in His love for us.
(Thank you, God, for not being self-righteous in your love for me. Thank you for loving me with humility and patience. And thank you for teaching me how to love like you. I am no good at love, and I am forever thankful to know Love himself.)
So I made a promise that I would take the energy that comes from love and do something more constructive with it. Instead of extravagant gifts I will use the energy that comes from love to lay down my own needs and desires in order to be what the people around me need. I will use it to walk in hard things like forgiveness of those who hurt me and choosing to honor them; to think and speak highly of them unconditionally. I will use it to walk in courage and humility. I will use it to “take up my cross”.
I am currently thinking back to so many times where I totally missed the mark on this. Like the Valentines Day that my mother and I got in a huge fight. My response was to spontaneously spend $200 on a brand new Kitchen Aid mixer shipped directly to her front door as a means of saying “I love you”.
How badly I wish I would have used that love to instead muster up the courage to walk humbly. I wish I would have directed my energies towards an apology paired with boldly confronting the things that were devouring our relationship.
God still whispers whimsy and extravagance through things like sunsets and mountains, but his number one plan of action was definitely humility and sacrifice.. in other words, my whimsical gestures can still act as a nice cherry on top but they are nothing without ice cream. (The Kitchen Aid should have been a cherry on top).
The good news is that I have met God in a greater way and therefore can now look more like Him in my relationships.
In regard to my friend who inspired all of this: I decided to leave my guitar, elaborate plans, and intensity at home.
I chose to meet this friend where they were at. I chose to walk in humility, honor, and sacrifice. (Incredibly difficult and highly unnoticed).
My new plan: Ask them to grab a cup of coffee or go see a movie.
And you know what..
I think that may have been the most extravagant thing I have ever done for someone.
So I do not know where this post hits you, but I guess my hope is that these words wreck your heart with revelation of how humbly God loves YOU. I also hope that it may inspire you to love like Him. I hope that the gifts you give this Christmas season will only serve as the cherry on top. I hope that you do not forget the ‘reason for the season’.
Perhaps if the ‘reason for the season’ could be wrapped up into one word then that word might be humility.
Humility: “to be humble, lowly, willing to stoop to any measure that is needed”
“And being found in fashion of a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.” (Phillipians 2:8)