But God has given each of us a gift, by David Kornfield
1 Peter 4:8-11 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. … God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God.
I just spent two precious hours participating in a virtual retreat with beloved friends in Brazil, a wonderful gift from God to me. I felt deeply loved through their prayer for me after I shared what God had put in my heart to speak to them.
What makes the difference between doing something for someone as a job or responsibility and doing it with positive spiritual impact? I believe the difference is whether we offer our service with love mediated by the Holy Spirit. An example comes from the experience of my friend Carol. She told a group of friends Tuesday night that she believes God has put her in exactly the right place. She has started her new job at the information desk of a large hospital this week. Already a person requested a form to tell the hospital Carol’s service to him had been exceptional.
“It’s not me, it’s the Holy Spirit,” Carol told us. “I try to see each person who comes to the desk as God sees them. I’ve been amazed at what God has shown me and has filled my heart to say as encouragement to each one. Hospitals are stress-filled places. I want them to carry a sense of peace and support as they leave me.”
She then told us the story of a man who left the desk to visit his wife and returned to tell her his wife had died. “Why would a total stranger tell me that?” Carol wondered. “Only because he somehow felt the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit calming and comforting him.”
Peter’s linking of the concepts of love and gifts reminds me of Gary Chapman’s “love languages.” So I asked my husband Dave to share from a conversation he had with God about one of his growth goals, to better love the people around him. God showed him how he (God) expresses all five of Chapman’s love languages:
In my devotional life, I talk with God, and he talks with me. This calls for a sanctified imagination, but I believe it’s real. What follows is God speaking to me about His love languages.
I love you. I never get tired of telling you that. It would be tricky to try to limit my love to any given love language, but verbal love is certainly a very big part of my love! Consider how I express all five:
- Verbal love. “In the beginning, was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1.1). My verbal love starts there and never stops. You can track it through other key references like John 1.14-18; 5.39, 40; 2Tm 3.16-17 and Heb 4.12 for starters. Then you can pick it up in my love expressed in my creation (Ps 19.1-7), spilling over to my written Word (Ps 19.8-14; all of Ps 119!).
- Touch or physical love. Go through the Gospels some time and notice how often Jesus touched people physically or they touched him physically. Dozens of times! And since his Ascension, the Body of Christ is his hands and feet, touching others physically and tangibly (Mt 25.31-46).
- Gifts. John 3:16 declares how my love expressed itself in the greatest gift of all, which opens the door for spiritual birth and transformation (John 1.12-18). And then my love goes on to spiritual gifts – Eph 4.9-116; 1Co 12-14; Rm 12.8-16; 1Pe 4.8-11 – all of them in the context of love. And that’s only the beginning of the gifts I’ve poured out on you – physical, financial, social, spiritual, relational – so many!
- Service. Mt 20.25-28; Ph 2.1-9. My utter and profound commitment to being ezer [helper, a frequent descriptor of God in the Old Testament, e.g. Psalm 46:1, and of Eve in Genesis 2:18]. Serving. Elevating. Raising up. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others (Mark 10:45).
- Quality time. That’s what you experience with Me at the beginning of every day and in your divine encounters, in my kairos. I make everything beautiful in My time (Ec 3.11).
I am off any scale you can picture in using all five. Try finding the horizon of any of those and you will find it’s like looking at the ocean. There is a horizon, but that’s simply the limit of your vision. It doesn’t come close to reaching the end of the ocean! That’s how I am toward you in each of these five love languages.
My (Dave’s) response to God:
Hmm, why am I not surprised, Lord? I guess the only surprise is that I haven’t seen this so clearly before. I’ll find it easier now to learn and use all five languages. Looking at you, I see how to do it. This adds depth to Your words “Walk with me and work with Me – watch how I do it!” [Matthew 11:29, The Message].
Help me today, Lord, to walk in Your love and be a conduit of Your love to each person I meet virtually, by email, WhatsApp, Zoom or in any other way, including personal connection with Deb and anyone else you bring to my home today. I pray in your holy name, so be it.
A suggestion from Dave:
Ric Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life is a wonderful forty-day devotional describing how God fulfills His purposes in each of us. Days 29-35 focus on God shaping us for His service. Day 31 in particular highlights the S.H.A.P.E. he used for each of us: Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experience. You can learn more about that here.
What gift(s) have you received from God? Today is a great day to tell him thank you, and to ask him to make his gifts to you even more effective in sharing his love, through the Holy Spirit.