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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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Love Changes Everything

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.  Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” I John 4:7-12

I want to be a better lover of people.  I want to be someone who can love everyone.  Whether I like them or not.  Whether or not they choose to believe what I believe or not.  Whether they love Jesus or not.  I want to be that way because God is that way.  There are many people in the world who spurn, speak against, and even loathe God.  But He loves them anyway.  He believes in them anyway.  He gives them choice and the free will to hate Him.  Even though He is love and loves everyone, He allows people to choose what they believe and how they will live.

I don’t know exactly what that looks like or how to do it, but I want to be better at loving people.

I want to be better at loving people because the human race is starving for real love.  We look for love everywhere.  We search at school, work, bars and even online.  We stay in horrible relationships because some “love” is better than none.  We accept these cheap imitations because we are afraid we’ll never have the real thing. We choose to withhold love like a bargaining chip in a battle for control.

Love is not a bargaining chip.  Love is not a feeling.  Love is not lust.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love does not envy.  Love does not boast.  Love is not proud.  Love is not rude.  Love is not self-seeking.  Love is not easily angered.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil.  Love rejoices with the truth.  Love always protects.  Love always trusts.  Love always hopes.  Love always perseveres.  Love never fails. Love doesn’t coddle.  Love doesn’t control.  Love doesn’t demand.  Love respects.  Love encourages.  Love covers.

God is love.  He is the origin of love.  He cannot help but love.  It is who He is.  Everything He does comes from a love motivation.  That is why we have free will and the right to choose.  Simply because He loves us enough not to control us.

I will admit that I have been somewhat terrified to love people right where they are because I don’t want to condone sin.  If that isn’t being a religious Pharisee I don’t know what is.  But hey it’s the truth.  I was afraid.  I always wanted to be on the right side of the line so I didn’t go down with the ship.  I don’t want to be lumped in with all the people who chose to spurn God.

But slowly I came to the understanding that I am useless to people if I don’t love them right where they are.  That’s what I Corinthians 13 means.  I can do everything right but if I don’t choose to love people then I am nothing more than a crashing cymbal, making a whole lot of useless racket.  I want to be better at loving people.  I want to love people like Jesus did.

How did Jesus love people?  Radically!  He spent most of his time with people who could never give Him anything in return.  Lepers.  The poor.  Samaritans.  Prostitutes.  Tax collectors.  Drunks.  You get the point.  Jesus went to the Temple and did his part there.  But most of his time was outside the walls of the temple.  He was killed because He loved people radically.  His love was confrontational to those who were religious and those with agendas.  But Jesus loved anyway.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were unwilling to receive Jesus’s love and offer of relationship.  They clung to the black and white laws because it was safe.  You knew exactly what you could and could not do.  I can totally relate to this.  It seems easier to put yourself in a box.  It mitigates risk of contamination from the sinners.  I did it for a time.  Got exhausted.  Gave up and went 100% in the opposite direction.  Did I know it was wrong.  Yes.  Did I care?  Not really no.

I’ve asked myself why I just quit, even though I knew the truth.  And after a really long time, I realize there were several answers to that question.  One is that I was miserable and everyone else seemed to be having way more fun than me.  Another is that it is very stressful to try to be perfect and stay in that box every second of every day.  But the underlying reason is I didn’t believe I was worthy of love, especially not from God, because I believed I had to earn it.  But guess what?  I am not flawless nor can I be flawless every second of every day.  So I decided to just do whatever I felt like doing, because it was way too hard to be perfect.

When I came back to God, I did so with a whole lot of condemnation.  Not from the people at church, but from myself.  I prayed that I could work off all the wrong that I did.  My whole mindset was about working and earning and fixing.  So I did everything I thought I was supposed to.  I went to church every time the doors were open.  I took classes.  I got baptized.  I got Spirit filled.  I prayed in tongues.  But I had no peace, no joy, and I felt worthless.  I kept tripping and making messes.  I hurt people.

I went to church on and off from the time I was about 5 or maybe 6 years old.  I received Jesus as my savior when I was 16 years old.  I walked away at 17.  I came back at 25.  In all that time I memorized verses about love.  I knew “Jesus loved me.”  But there’s a difference between “knowing something” and really understanding what it means.  When I was 36 and a half years old, I finally understood that Jesus loved me.  Not just the little kid’s song kinda love.  But unconditionally loved me.  It wrecked me.  I was a pile of mush when I really saw that He was there loving me and believing in me when I was drinking myself numb and sleeping around.  He was loving and believing in me every day for my whole life.

I have grown and changed more in the last 3 years than I did in the previous 36.  Why?  Love.  Love changes everything, even broken angry women with a fierce attitude who don’t need anyone’s help.

Love changes everything.  And that is why I want to be a better lover of people.  We all know what’s wrong with us and how screwed up we are.  Let’s love ourselves and each other anyway.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  We love each other because he loved us first.”  I John 4:18-19

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.