“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” Matthew 5:46

One of the best ways to rediscover Jesus at Christmas is to put his love into action —to become his hands and feet. Christmas is all about God the Father putting his love into action by sending us the gift of his only Son. Jesus lived a life of perfect love. He didn’t just offer it to his family and followers — everyone was included.

Our culture would have us believe that Christmas is all about giving gifts among family and friends. And there’s nothing wrong with doing that. But that’s not why Jesus came. Christlike love is about including those outside our circle, just like Jesus did by coming to reach out and include us.

This Christmas, practice the love of Jesus by extending it beyond your family and friends. As you do, pay attention to what God is doing in the hearts of the people you’re serving. Initiate small talk. Try to identify where they are at spiritually. Listen to the Holy Spirit. He may nudge you to direct the conversation in a spiritual direction.

You could help someone discover Jesus. Their life would change forever!

Here are eight ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus:

  1. Feed the hungry. Take a trip to the food bank. Fill up your trunk and donate some necessities and treats so those in need don’t have to go without during the holidays. Or volunteer at a soup kitchen. There are always serving opportunities: putting together a meal, playing the role of sous chef, or cleaning up afterward. You could bless a regular volunteer with a little break and have the chance to have spiritual conversations with those who come to eat.
  2. Bake goodies for your neighbors. A festive plate of cookies is a perfect way to break the ice or to get to know each other a little better. You may start a relationship that will allow you to make Jesus known to them in the coming year.
  3. Gather mittens and hats. Many of us have old mittens and hats in the back of our closets. Ask friends and family if you could pick up any extra mittens or hats they have, and then deliver them to a local shelter. Or, walk right up to a homeless person and let them have their pick. If the opportunity presents itself, also share the good news that brings warmth to the soul.
  4. Babysit for a family. Maybe you have a neighbor who has young kids. Parents don’t get a chance to get out often and don’t want to be a burden by asking someone to watch their kids. Offer to watch the kids for free. Make someone curious about where your generosity comes from.
  5. Give thank-you gifts. Many people work hard to help us, from clerks in stores and markets to the crossing guard at our children’s school. If you keep a few gift cards or boxes of chocolates on hand, you’ll be sure to have a token of thanks for each person with whom you cross paths. If most of your friends already know Jesus, this is a great way to branch out and make friends with someone who doesn’t yet know him.
  6. Pack bags full of toiletries. I don’t feel comfortable giving money to every person that asks. But I always feel guilty and wish I could help in some other way. I can’t take credit for this idea, but I love the idea of packing a bag of toiletries, snacks, and maybe even a gift card into a re-sealable plastic bag. Then you’re ready with something practical to give, and you can remind them that God loves them.
  7. Visit a nursing home. There are many elderly people who live in assisted living and are very lonely. A quick call to the front desk will let you know when you can come by to visit, help serve coffee, or even sing or play an instrument. Many of these homes even welcome doggie visitors as a part of animal therapy. Spend time really listening to the people you meet there. Then share about the hope you have in Christ with those open to hearing about it.
  8. Give hope to those suffering abroad. Our partner ministry, GAIN, does wonderful relief work all over the world. Check out their Christmas catalogue. It’s full of ways to bless the needy: children who need funds for school, destitute women in need of food and medicine, refugees from Syria who need to start over. A small donation could supply 30 African villagers with clean water for life.

These are just a few of the many ways we can really show Jesus’ love to others this Christmas. Make this Christmas count for eternity. Touch lives with the unconditional love of your Savior. He loves it when you become his hands and feet by stepping out in faith in the power of the Spirit.

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40).

updated September 2019

Photo Credit: Annie Spratt