For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 ESV)

I read a great story some time ago about two young men that joined a construction crew commissioned to build a multistory office building. At lunch they sat themselves on an iron girder high above the ground and opened their lunch boxes. "I can’t believe it," groaned Joe. "Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I don’t like peanut butter and jelly!" With that, he crumpled his sandwiches and hurled them to the ground. Lunch on the second day was a repeat of the first–Joe became visibly upset with the sandwiches in his lunch. Once again, he hurled the sandwiches 17 stories below. Joe’s buddy dreaded lunch on the following day. Sure enough, rather than enjoying a well-deserved rest, he was stuck listening to his new coworker complain. Day after day he silently watched Joe sort through his lunch, exclaim over the offending sandwiches, and send them hurtling to the ground. "I’ve had it with peanut butter and jelly!" screamed Joe once again. Angrily smashing the sandwiches in his hand, he thrust them to the ground below. Unable to restrain himself any longer, Joe’s buddy blurted out, "Look, if you don’t like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then tell your wife not to make them anymore." "Hey, buddy, wait a minute," snapped Joe. "Don’t bring my wife into this. I make my own sandwiches!"

Sometimes we complain about the way things are when we have nobody to blame but ourselves. We are not mere victims of circumstance. We have the power to control our reaction to what happens to us. But we need to do more than complain; we need to take action. The Apostle Paul saw that characteristic in people and when he wrote to the church at Thessalonica, he encouraged them to let their love grow and overflow to others. By doing that, the result would be a strengthening of their hearts so that they might be blameless before God.

It almost seems too simple to be the truth.  If we merely love others then we can be blameless.  Yet, that’s at the heart of the message Jesus had when asked about commandments. The “Royal Commandments” were simple: first, love God with all your heart, mind and soul; and, second, love others as you do yourself. What better time than Christmas to show others the love of God you have found in Christ? There are so many ways to do that. Speak a word of encouragement to those around you.  It might be the only kindness they are shown that day! Go out of your way to do something for someone less privileged.  Take food to a sick neighbor. Take some flowers to your local convalescent center. There are hundreds of ways to express a little bit of love to others at this time of the year. Pick one and renew the pattern of love in your life.