By Melissa Spolestra

My friend Elizabeth was the kind of person who went all out for people. At baby showers she didn’t buy off the registry. She made special blankets by hand for each new mom. You could often hear her laugh across the room after church services as she talked about her kids or her Lord. She filled a room with her smile and a contagious energy.

Last Christmas Elizabeth unexpectedly passed away. One day she was her exuberant self, and the next she was gone. Her entrance into heaven has caused me to think a lot about going all out. We serve a God who goes all out for us. I love how He announced the birth of the Messiah. Our Father definitely made a big show with a host of angels on a hillside declaring the good news that He was sending a Savior.

One of the cool things to me is that the Lord went all out for shepherds. They were poor, dirty, and often outcasts of society. These are the ones God went all out for! The lowly shepherds got to hear the news of the Messiah’s birth in an incredible way long before religious leaders or those the world values as important.

As I reflect on God’s extravagant love, I wonder how we can follow His example and go all out for others? Elizabeth did it with homemade blankets and encouraging words. This meant taking extra time and energy to make others feel special. In order to go all out for people in our lives, we’ll need God’s Spirit to guide us in the who, how, and when. We can’t go all out for everyone. In order to love my husband extravagantly, I might need to scale back time with my friends. To go all out for a person in need, I may have to sacrifice in other areas.

My mentor, Deb, has loved me extravagantly for almost twenty years. She is generous with her time and wisdom, and she loves to spoil my family. Going all out doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money. It’s not the American motto of bigger, better, faster, and more. Instead, going all out means sharing God’s love with others in a way that is meaningful to them.

I feel loved by Deb because she knows me. She knows my favorite drinks. She can tell when I’m tired or discouraged. Loving people extravagantly starts with knowing them. When we really are familiar with someone, we can go all out in ways that are meaningful in their situations. God knew what we needed when He sent His Son. We were lost in sin and desperate for redemption. Our sin separated us from an intimate relationship with our Creator. Jesus came to earth to remove the penalty of sin through His blood. God went all out so that our relationship with Him could be restored.

I want to go all out for others, but I often have a tendency to overlook them. My personality tends to be more task-oriented while my husband is more people-oriented. Christmas can be one of those times when we all skim the surface of trying to do so many things at once. Instead, we need to focus on God and seek His help to discern where to spend our time and resources to love extravagantly.

When I think about my friend Elizabeth, I realize that life is fleeting. We don’t know how much time we will have to go all out for people. I reflect back and hope that she knew how loved and appreciated she was. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so we need to go the extra mile in loving people today!

As you think of those whom God has placed in your sphere of influence, who might He be calling you to go all out for? Is there someone in your life who needs to know they are

• known,

• valued, and

• extravagantly loved?

Once you have identified the who, then comes the how. What gift of time, creativity, words, or some material good might cause them to experience a touch from God through you?

Take a few moments now in God’s presence to seek His wisdom on how to “go all out” for one person this week!

Here are some ideas to consider to go all out for others:

• Meet a financial need anonymously. Someone in our church had my pastor-husband send out an email asking everyone in the church to think of any coworkers, neighbors, or friends who might need financial help to make Christmas special. My husband then delivered the gifts anonymously to strangers who had no idea where the gifts came from.

• Forgive that person who hurt you! Forgiveness is a great way to go all out with God’s love.

• Take the time to write a note to someone at work, church, or a family member telling them specifically what you appreciate about him or her.

Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She is the author several Bible studies and two books. Her most recent release is Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose.