“The Heart of Christmas is Love” 

Galatians 4:4-5 

Good morning, Merry Christmas! 

This is the final week of Advent, the waiting is almost over. The next time we come together will be to celebrate Christ’s birth together on Christmas Eve. We have been in a sermon series where we have discovered the heart of Christmas. Often, we get lost in all the decorations, shopping and wrapping that we miss the central focus of the Christmas season. Jesus was born to bring the gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love, which is the real reason for Christmas. 

The first week we learned that we are offered hope in the middle of our circumstances because of God’s faithfulness. 

The second week we looked at the wonderful gift of peace that Jesus’s sacrifice makes available to us. We are made right with God, ourselves, and others because of Christ. 

Last week we learned that joy is ours no matter the circumstances because God dwells with us. 

For this final week of our series, we will take a look at a theme within the scriptures that truly holds all of it together. At the heart of Christmas is the great love of God for each and every one of us. 

Let’s be honest. 

As we prepare to celebrate on Christmas day with friends and family, there will most assuredly be a gift that you have to figure out how to respond to without hurting someone’s feelings or feeling foolish. I want to offer you eight ways to respond to a gift that may be less than desirable. You may want to take some notes and arm yourself with Christmas gift gratitude. 

  1.         Well, well, well, now, there’s a gift! 
  2.         No, really? When I wear this I will certainly look


  1.         You know, I always wanted one of these! Jog my

                 memory—what’s it called again? 

  1.         You know what? I’m going to find a special place to

                 put this. 

  1.         Boy, you don’t see craftsmanship like that every


  1.         And it’s such an interesting color too! 
  2.         You say that was the last one? Am I glad that you

                 snapped that baby up! 

  1.         You shouldn’t have! No, really, I mean it. You really

                 shouldn’t have! 

So, there you go. 

I hope this prepares you for any and all scenarios. 

Today, I want to speak about a gift you don’t have to rehearse a response for. It is the greatest gift that has ever been given to us, and Christmas is the time in which it was presented. When God sent His Son to be born, it was an expression of His unfailing and relentless love. 

His love is a gift that beats all gifts because it meets our greatest need— our sinful state. 

It is a gift that is priceless because it could never be purchased apart from Christ’s blood. 

It is a gift that is timeless because the grace of God is never ending. 

Above all else, at the heart of Christmas is love. 


Have you ever received a present from someone and you could not believe how perfect the timing was? Maybe because of something you were going through or because of a need that was met, it was as if the giver knew just what your heart wanted. The book of Galatians talks about the timing of Christmas as Paul wrote to the church in Galatia. 

In the Scripture read today from Galatians 4 from the moment creation was broken by sin, God began to unfurl a plan to restore and rescue all that he had made. The Bible is an account of His divine efforts and faithfulness to reverse the effects of the Fall. Motivated by love, God partners with those who love and trust Him to enact the greatest rescue plan in history. Paul wrote that when Jesus came and was born to Mary, the fullness of time had come. It was the right moment in history to send His Son to make a way for the world to be restored. Because of love, God was not content to sit back and watch His creation suffer forever. He went to great lengths to be with us and make us a part of His family once again. 

It reminds me of a Facebook post I stumbled upon recently. 

Tracy Howell of Leonard, Texas, found a unique way of showing her husband both her love and fellowship in his daily life. On December 1, 2020, she shared the following in a Facebook post, which has since racked up hundreds of thousands of shares. “Clifford and I have been married almost 41 years, and I have made his lunch every working day since day one. On occasion I would join him on the job site and have lunch with him. He made the comment once that lunch tasted better when you share it with someone you love. Soon after that, while fixing his sandwich one night, I took a bite out of it before putting it away. When he got home (long before cell phones) he commented that someone took a bite out of his sandwich. I told him that since I couldn’t join him for lunch, I took a bite so he knew I was joining him. I continue to do this frequently (unless it’s tuna or pimento cheese) and he still says, ‘Saw you joined me for lunch today and it sure was good.’” 

Tracy wanted her husband to know she wasn’t just thinking about him, she was actually “joining” him in his daily experiences. She was still “with” him. She’s “taking a bite” out of whatever struggles or hardships he encounters. ( 

What is perhaps most amazing is that when Jesus came, He came to meet us exactly where we are. He was born under the law of God in order to redeem human kind, which is under the expectations of God’s law. In doing so, His perfect life met the requirements that the law demanded. Where we fail, Jesus is successful. 


According to Galatians 4, the full expression of God’s love is demonstrated in our spiritual adoption. We become children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ. 

We are given all the privileges of sonship and daughtership with God as our Father. The late pastor J.I. Packer wrote about this incredible expression of love that came to us at Christmas. 

“Adoption is the highest privilege that the gospel offers: higher even than justification. 

To be right with God, 

the Judge 

is a great thing, 

but to be loved and cared for by God, 

the Father 

is greater.” 

Many of us live our lives every day missing the fact that God loves us. When we miss the fact that we have been adopted into His family, we have a hard time loving ourselves. 

In turn, we have a hard time loving others who are also valued and treasured by God. The reason this aspect of Christmas should not be missed or avoided is because it is central to us living the full lives that God wants for us. 

Paul tells us about all of the benefits of being in God’s family and being recipients of His love in the book of Ephesian, 1:3-14, I encourage you to take the Bible that is sitting in front of you and open it to Ephesians, chapter 1. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

As a part of God’s family, we are made blameless in God’s sight (vs. 4). Our sins are washed away by his love. 

God’s will and way are made known to us as a father might share with a child (vs. 9). 

We are chosen to receive hope and salvation (vs. 13). 

We are marked with a seal to ensure that we are filled by the Spirit of God and will inherit eternal life as one of God’s precious possessions (vs. 14). 

All of this is only made possible by the arrival of Jesus at just the right time to one day sacrificially give his life on a cross to validate God’s amazing love for us. 


The reason love must be at the heart of Christmas is because, if we miss this being the central message of the season, in the midst of the lights and presents, we may never receive it for ourselves. 

What is perhaps most tragic about this oversight is that we often give the kind of love that we perceive to be ours. 

If we have not experienced the grace of God, it is difficult to offer the grace of God. 

If we do not know the compassion of God, it is difficult to express the compassion of God. 

But when we recognize the kind of love that God has for us, it becomes the way in which we treat others around us. 

The most famous of all passages in the Bible about love helps us understand God’s feelings toward us and the way we should feel about our spouse, children, friends, and neighbors. It comes from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Many of you have heard this passage, I am going to read it today from, “The Message.” 

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

We can get caught up in all kinds of things, even good things, and miss the whole point if love is not our motivating factor. 

Love like we have been given from God should cause us to be patient and kind to one another. 

It should cause us to avoid being envious of one another or proud. 

Love drives us to honor others and to keep a cool head. 

Love is present when we avoid evil and rejoice with good. 

Does this sound like the love you have received from God? 

Does it sound like the love you display in your life? 

The way this passage might sound during Christmas would be like this: 

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny ornaments but do not have love, I’m just another decorator. 

If I work hard in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime but do not have love, I’m just another cook. 

If I work at a soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point. 

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. 

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse. 

Love is kind even when harried and tired. 

Love does not envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. 

Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way but is thankful they are there to be in the way. 

Love does not give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who cannot. 

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails. 

“Toys will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust; but giving the gift of love will endure.” ( 

So, this Christmas, see the arrival of Jesus as the ultimate gift from God. The kind of gift where the only proper response is to receive. May that love you receive in your hearts cause you to live it and give it every day of the year. 

Let’s Pray.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. What kind of effect should God’s love have on us? 
  2. Why do you think Paul uses the imagery of a family to communicate how God feels about you? 
  3. What benefit of being in God’s family that is listed in Ephesians 1:3-14 is most exciting and encouraging to you? Why? 
  4. What is one practical way to share God’s love with someone else this week?