What love language do you speak?

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.

Shutterstock: Trong Nguyen

“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:

  1. 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!).
  2. 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).
  3. 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!
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

Shutterstock: Zephyr_p

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.

But God saves everyone who calls on his name

Acts 2:17-21 “In the last days,” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams… And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below… But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[Peter, quoting Joel 2:28-32]

I often hear people say they think we’re entering the “last days,” when eschatological promises will be fulfilled. My husband Dave sometimes looks up at the clouds and says, “Jesus could come back today!”

Yes, he could. Interestingly, Peter himself, two thousand years ago, thought his generation might be the last on Earth as we know it. And that theme has echoed down through the centuries, especially in times of crisis. For my novel, Horse Thief 1898, I’ve read a lot about the 19th century. People were so passionate then in their belief that the world would end any day that entire communities sprang up around that theme, especially in northeastern U.S. along the Erie Canal. Some preachers named the date they thought Jesus would return.

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen. Only the Father knows,” Jesus told his followers in Matthew 24, after he too quoted the prophet Joel. “If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward.” Jesus then told the parable of the three servants entrusted with their master’s goods while he went on a trip. On his return, he honored the two who invested and multiplied what the master had asked them to steward.

But the third servant, consumed by fear and insecurity, had simply buried the master’s money. He hadn’t lost or squandered it, but he hadn’t creatively multiplied it either. The master calls him “wicked and lazy.”

Yikes! This story speaks directly to me today. I love to write, but I find letting people know about what I’ve written very, very hard—so challenging that I’m often tempted to give up, to “bury” this passion which I believe the Lord entrusted to me. “The market is so crowded,” I tell myself. “My voice doesn’t really matter. I’ll do something easier; something with more obvious and immediate impact.”

But that’s not the point, is it. The question is whether I will be faithful to what God has given to me, investing as well as I can in those who do hear my voice. I haven’t heard God telling me to become a bestseller. I have heard him say, “Write what I put in your heart.”

When Jesus returns, will he find you and me actively and creatively engaged in the work he has entrusted to us, in our small corners of the world, energized by the Spirit he pours out on us? Might someone call on the Lord and be saved (the verb sozo means the action of delivering or rescuing another from a dangerous situation, either physical or spiritual) if we trust him enough to do our part? If you think of it, please pray for me to lean into the Spirit, because I don’t find this work easy. And I’ll be delighted to pray for you, too, if you communicate with me specific needs you have in seeking to be faithful to the gifts God has given you, as we both await the return of our Lord.