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Love is a Verb: Gifts and Givers

This is last in the series about the Love Languages, you can read about the others, Acts of Service, Touch, Words of Affirmation, and Quality Time, by clicking the links.

My point in writing these is to inspire you to think differently about love. To think of it less as an emotion and more about how to observe those in your circle and love them in a way that they can receive it.

I firmly believe Love is a person and to be like Him, we must stop thinking of love as an emotion and start thinking about it as a verb!

What comes to mind when you think about people with Gifts as a love language?

Greedy?

Materialistic?

Trying to buy people?

I think that people who are greedy or are materialistc as fear based people. They’re afraid of poverty, not having enough. They are afraid of being judged for what they don’t have.

Fear, not hate, is the opposite of love.

The gift language people I know are generous and thoughtful givers. They seek out for ways to bless people with gifts and even financially. They are the ones supporting other people’s dreams. That is how they love, by giving.

Givers are great listeners. How else will they find out what to give you? How else can they show you they love you?

In my experience givers are also grateful and gracious receivers.

I have a friend, Julie, who is the most fabulous gift giver I know. She has the knack for finding presents that make me feel known and loved by her. There’s usually a story (or an inside joke) on why this particular gift was purchased for me. She and her husband are two of the most generous people I have ever met.

Givers like Julie inspire me to be generous. Isn’t that what govers should be, inspitational? Helping us to be more giving than we are? #belikeJulie

Usually gifts people are more excited about the thought you put into the gift than the value or type of gift you actually give them.

Gifts are even more special to them on non-gift giving holidays. The “I saw this and thought of you” kind of gifts. That’s the best way to fill the love tank for a gift person.

God is also a pretty sweet giver…

He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 NKJV

He also gave natural talents and Spiritual gifts. Exodus 36 talks about gifted artisans, Luke 11:9-13 talks about God giving good gifts, I Corinthians 12-14 is about spiritual gifts.

One of my fave scriptures about gifts is Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Remember these things when you need/want to get a gift for someone. Consider who they are, and seek to find a gift that shows them you know them, and that you listen to what they say.

Point to ponder while you wander…Jesus learned from the Father how to give sweet gifts-

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 NKJV

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#Grateful

Looking around my apartment this morning all I can see is blessing. Furniture and other items inherited, gifted to me, and items I purchased with money I received from a job I like going to every day. 

And I am grateful.

Gifted and Talented

Music.  I love it.  It is one of the greatest gifts God gave us.  And the people who make the music, they are gifts too.

I’ve always desired to be musical.  I joined band in elementary school.  Probably the worst flutist ever to pick up the flute.  I begged for a keyboard and piano lessons.  I got the keyboard, but that whole two hands doing two separate things at the same time thing.  Yeah.  I cannot do that.  I was in elementary school choir.  I was in junior high choir too.  In eighth grade, I was directed to sing so softly that I couldn’t be heard at a concert.

I realized then that maybe music wasn’t in the cards for me.  Didn’t stop me from singing, I sing all the time.  I also dance (AKA flailing) and paint (AKA creative therapy).  But those are stories for another day.

What’s the my point?  There is only one Kim Walker Smith.  There is only one Martina McBride.  There’s only one Natalie Grant.  There’s only one Loretta Lynn.  There’s only one Aretha Franklin.  There is only one Doris Day.  And there’s only one Jill Nicholson.

Jill Nicholson?  Who’s that?

That’s me.  I am Jill.  I have gifts and talents chosen by God and entrusted to me to cultivate and grow.  But for years I felt that because I couldn’t sing like I wanted, that I wasn’t talented at all.  That is a lie straight from the enemy.  Unfortunately, I believed it for too long and wasted years I could have been tending to the natural abilities I WAS entrusted with.

I believed the lie.  So I took my ball and went home.

The parable of the talents comes to mind here because I did bury what I had inside and hide the talents I did have.  I didn’t take photography classes because I was afraid I’d be told I wasn’t good at it.  Then I couldn’t take photos anymore.  I didn’t want a repeat of the choir concert incident.  I only wrote for class assignments.  Research papers and essays essentially.  When I did write other things, I didn’t let anyone read them.  I still struggle with letting people read my creative stuff.

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” John 12:24-25 MSG

I know the context of this verse is Jesus speaking about His upcoming death, burial, and resurrection.  But this is what Jesus woke me up at 3:30 am to show me…If we take the gifts and talents that we have been entrusted with by God, both spiritual and natural, and we keep them to ourselves they are wasted.  But if we take the time to develop them, and sow them into His kingdom, those gifts are multiplied beyond what we could ever imagine.

Nothing given to Jesus is ever wasted.  It’s always multiplied in some way.  I’m still chewing on this, because I know there’s more here, but this is initial revelation.

Point to ponder while you wander…Appreciate the gifts and talents in those around you, not be envious or jealous of them.  Be grateful for the abilities YOU WERE given and be good stewards of them.

PS:  Parable of the Talents is found in Matthew 25.

 

 

 

What Love Looks Like

I’m getting ready to move out of the house I’ve owned since 2007. Moving isn’t really new to me, I’ve moved close to 20+ times in my life. No big deal really.

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But when I was packing my kitchen today my eyes got teary at this sight. To you it’s just spices in a cabinet. But to me it’s the cabinet my Nana painted and lined for me when I first moved into the house. In fact she painted my entire kitchen. The walls. The ceiling.  And every cabinet inside and out. To me this photo is my Nana showing me she loves me. To me this is what love looks like.

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This photo is of my weathered mailbox. The mailbox that has been hit and knocked down sooo many times that I stopped putting it back up and got a P.O Box. Then one day I look out my window and there’s  my Papa out there digging a hole in my front yard. He was at Home Depot and decided to buy me a mailbox post and install it for me just because. He’s not a big talker, my Pops, but that mailbox spoke volumes. To me that’s what love looks like.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” I John 3:18 NIV

Something to ponder while you wander…love isn’t just an emotion to be felt, it’s an action to be shown. That’s why to me love looks like this cabinet and mailbox post.

That’s it?

When someone gives you a gift, just accept it and say, “Thank you.”  It’s really not a difficult concept.  But when receiving from God, I still tend to struggle with this.  I feel as though I need to clean up my own mess and earn God’s help.  That is the definition of religion, people trying to impress God with what they do and to make themselves worthy of God’s notice.

Well if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this; God already loves you as much as He’s ever going to.  Do you know why that is?  Because He already loves you completely and unconditionally.  What you do or not do doesn’t change the love He has for you.  He’s a good God who wants to bless people and enjoys giving good gifts.

The story that kept popping up to me was the story of God giving Naaman a gift.  It’s found in II Kings 5.  Naaman was a great Aramean warrior, who was beloved by his king, and also happened to also to be a leper.  Naaman’s wife had a maid from Israel, who told Naaman that she knew of a prophet who could heal him.  So Naaman went to Elisha’s house.  Here’s the story beginning in verse 9 and going through verse 16.

So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house.  But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”

But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me!  Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.

But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’”  So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!

Then Naaman and his entire party went back to find the man of God. They stood before him, and Naaman said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts.” And though Naaman urged him to take the gift, Elisha refused.” 

Naaman’s pride said, “That’s it??? There must be more than simply bathing in a dirty river?  This can’t be right.  Shouldn’t there be some sort of ritual or cost involved.”  But there wasn’t.  God simply required Naaman to believe, then He healed him.  Naaman was the leader of the army that had just defeated his people in battle.  Yet still God loved him.  Yet God healed him without expecting anything in return.  That’s the goodness and giving nature of God.

This just blows my mind.

Simply Receive

While I was reading Psalm 116 this morning, verse 12 jumped out at me.  It asks “How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?”  It’s a good question.  How do you repay someone who has given you something in excess of your ability to pay?  How do you repay such a good God for being who He is?

When I read the next verse it seemed like it was changing topics because it was talking about lifting the cup of salvation.  So I looked up lift, cup, and salvation in the Strong’s.  Here’s what I found:

Lift (H5375) can mean to accept, take, lift…etc…

Cup (H3583) is from a root that means to hold together.  It means container (cup).  Figuratively it refers to a portion or lot.

Salvation (H3444) is Yeshûw’âh.  It means the whole package of deliverance:  deliverance, victory, prosperity, aid, help, health, salvation and welfare.  It is everything that Jesus died to give us.

I added this all together…. Willingly accept the whole container of salvation is how you repay the Lord’s goodness.  I pondered this because it doesn’t seem good enough to me.

So, I asked Him, “How do I repay Your goodness, Lord?”

His answer,  “By accepting it.”

The truth is usually much simpler than we make it out to be.

 

Highest Goal

I’m sure you have a goal, most people do. Maybe it’s getting in shape or getting healthy. Maybe it’s a degree or starting a new business/ministry. Goals give us a destination to focus on so that we don’t get distracted or quit when it gets tough. That’s why having goal or two is important.

Take a second or two to think of the most important goal to you right now. When you’ve got it…please continue reading.

Most people know I Corinthians 13. It’s the love chapter after all! Many people have it read at their wedding or hanging in a frame on their wall. But what many don’t realize is that chapters 12-14 of I Corinthians are all a part of one thought.

Chapter 12 explains spiritual gifts. It ends with verse 31: “So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But let me show you a way of life that is best of all.”

The Apostle Paul then takes all of I Corinthians 13 to explain what love is and what it looks like. Real love isn’t about mushy gushy feelings, it is a choice. A choice to be patient with people. A choice to be kind. A choice to believe the best. Paul tells us that even if he were the most talented and had more gifts than anyone else and achieved more than anyone-if he didn’t live a life of love then he wasted his life.

With that in mind here’s how chapter 13 ends and 14 begins: “Three things will last forever-faith, hope and love- and the greatest of these is love. Let love be your highest goal!” I Cor 13:13-14:1

Now back to your most important priority goal. Is it love? Not mushy gushy love or finding THE ONE, but to actually live your life as described in I Corinthians 13. To be kind to the rude sales clerk. To believe the best about the idiot in the SUV who just cut you off. To celebrate one another’s successes even when your life hasn’t been going so well. To forgive the way you’ve been forgiven. That’s what love looks like.

I know I’m not there yet, and you probably aren’t either. But imagine how this world would change if everyone kept love as their priority goal!!

Something to think about over the weekend.