Jesus has called us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31). Even harder than this, we are called to love those who will not love us back (Mt. 5:45-47). This is what makes Christians distinctly Christians. We demonstrate love even to our enemies. God loved us when we were his enemies. We were deceitful and malicious lovers of self and when God loved us, he did not love us because of anything in us. There was nothing lovable in us to be found, but in his mercy he set his heart on us and loved us. Now he sings over us (Zeph. 3:17). Oh! See the amazing love of Christ that he has for you, a sinner.
Now filled up with this love that we do not deserve, let it move us to show the love of Jesus in practical ways to our neighbors this Christmas. I hope you know at least some of your neighbors. But if not, don’t worry! May this be the year you break the ice. It’s possible your neighbors may not like you. Maybe your dog barks too loud for them, or your kids broke their car window once. Your neighbors may not love Christ or go to church. No matter what, we should pursue them in love, just like Christ has done for us.
Here are some practical ways you can love your neighbors this Christmas.
Invite them over for dinner. One of the best expressions of loving is providing a meal. Share the table with them. Serve them their food first. Serve yourself last. The first shall be last, even at the table (Mt. 20:16). Ask them about their story. Listen. Ask them how you can pray for them. Then pray with them. You might be the only person they share a meal with this Christmas. So, it’s ok if they have weird dinner habits.
Leave a gift basket on the porch. Fill it with coloring books for kids. Coffee. Hot chocolate packets. Candle. Christmas mug. Hershey’s chocolate. You get the idea. Then fill it with notes from your family sharing your love for them, and that you want to “demonstrate the love of Christ in a practical way.” Make it a fun project for your family. Parents, lead the way.
Put gift cards on their car windshield. A surprise $25 gift card to Lowe’s to help with their house project. A timely date night to Bonefish for a struggling couple, while you watch their kids for the night. These go a long way in demonstrating Christ’s love. Always leave a note with the gift vocalizing that you care about them.
Invite them to the Christmas Eve Service. Many would go if they were invited. They may not show up to a Christmas Eve service of a church where they do not know anyone. But they might go with you if you ask. A loving invite could save their soul.
Giveaway unused clothes and toys. Do some pruning of the house and think of neighbors in your life that would be blessed by having these needs met.
Diapers and Wipes. Know any parents of young kids with their hands full? They will never, ever complain about having more of the essentials. Diapers are not cheap. This would be one of the best Christmas presents you could give to a young parent.
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
Don’t forget your neighbors this Christmas.