“The Gift of Love”
Galatians 3:9-14 (MSG)
9-10 So those now who live by faith are blessed along with Abraham, who lived by faith—this is no new doctrine! And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure. Scripture backs this up: “Utterly cursed is every person who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the law.”
11-12 The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: “The person who believes God, is set right by God—and that’s the real life.” Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: “The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.”
13-14 Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham’s blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God’s life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing—just the way Abraham received it.
O Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me
a right faith,
a certain hope,
and a perfect love, understanding and knowledge,
that I may carry out your holy and true command.
– Francis of Assisi
in Prayers From the Heart, Richard Foster, p. 8
1 John 3:14
We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another.
QUESTIONS FOR GROUP DISCUSSION
A Resource for Life Groups, Sunday AM, and Ongoing Groups
Icebreaker: When was the last time you assumed the worst about somebody and then found out you were completely wrong?
How does Joseph handle the news at first when he learns Mary is pregnant? How would most guys react in those circumstances?
What news does the angel deliver to Joseph? Why are they to name the child Jesus?
Why is Joseph’s obedience so rather remarkable under the circumstances? Why would many other men balk at the angel’s instructions?
How does Joseph’s example teach us how to receive the love that comes down at Christmas?
Application: Joseph exhibits the kind of goodness and love befitting of the man who will mentor the Christ child. His righteous heart toward the woman who appeared to have betrayed his love reveals the type of love our world desperately needs. As you worship Christ this holiday season, be sure to contemplate all of the ways Joseph demonstrated faith, hope, humility, and love in his part of the Christmas story.