Women and the Love-Languages: Gifts

Why do you give people presents? I think I give someone a meaningful gift when they’ve impacted my life and I want to show my appreciation. Jesus had a huge impact on the family of His friend Lazarus. Lazarus had been so ill, it resulted in death, but that wasn’t the end of the story. Jesus came to the graveside and called him out, effectively breathing life back into him. Lazarus struggled out of the grave because he was wrapped up, as they would wrap a dead body for burial, and Jesus ordered them to loose the grave clothes and let him go (John 11:44). Imagine how his two sisters must have felt! Naturally speaking, death was the last straw. There was no coming back from that, but here was their brother raised from the dead, and here was an opportunity to thank Jesus. They held a dinner in His honour. Lazarus ate with Him and Martha prepared the food, but Mary went above and beyond (John 12:1-7). She took a pound (a Roman pound is twelve ounces) of very expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet. At that time, it was customary for the host of a dinner to put oil on the guests’ heads to welcome them, but pouring that much perfume over someone’s feet? So its fragrance filled the whole house? In Michael Card’s book “John: The Gospel of Wisdom”, he says the thirty pieces of silver Judas Iscariot got for betraying Jesus were worth about three thousand dollars, whereas this perfume Mary poured was worth thirty thousand dollars – ten times as much! People thought Mary was extravagant, but nothing was too good for Jesus. Her brother was alive! How could she ever thank Him enough?

When I search my life for a woman who’s extravagantly generous to me, it has to be my mum. I haven’t given birth to a child, so I can’t really comprehend a mother’s love except by looking at her. If anything could be done to help her family, she would do it. She doesn’t want to keep what she has for herself, but would gladly give it to us if we’d take it. I find it difficult to receive that kind of generosity, but I like the heart behind it and hope I have that same heart for others.

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I hope you’ve got people in your life who are examples of the love-languages. If not, maybe you can pray and ask God to bring them to you. I’m certain He loves us in all of these ways, and we’re here on earth to show that love to each other.

Women and the Love-Languages: Acts of Service

The Biblical story of Ruth is quite well-known. Ruth met her husband because her in-laws left their homeland in a time of famine, and moved to her home country of Moab. All the men of the house subsequently died and Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, decided to return home. Not only did Ruth go with her, she devoted herself to caring for her. Naomi had left God’s land and moved to Moab. She came back drained and miserable, feeling that God was against her, so Ruth took the initiative and went to gather grain (Ruth 2:1-12). She found herself in a field belonging to one of Naomi’s relatives, whose name was Boaz, and he said to Ruth: “I know about all the help you have given your mother-in-law after your husband died. You left your father and mother and your own country to come to a nation where you did not know anyone. May the Lord reward you for all you have done. May your wages be paid in full by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for shelter”. Ruth’s decision to prioritise God and serve Naomi affected her whole life. Ultimately it secured her place in the family of Jesus Christ, as the great grandmother of King David.

My friend Tasha follows her example. She’s a hero. Obviously in these times things have changed, but for a couple of years, she’s come here for two hours every week and done whatever I asked her to do. If I wanted to try out a new gadget, she read the instructions. If I needed help with a new recipe, we cooked together. If I chose to walk on the hills, or somewhere that would be difficult with my cane, she was my guide. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m a happier person because of her.

Who can you serve today? You might have to find different ways of serving at a time like this, but maybe you’ll be someone’s hero.

Women and the Love-Languages: Physical Touch

She may be unnamed in the Bible, but one woman knew the importance of touch better than anyone. She had a terrible health-problem and had been bleeding for twelve years. Mark is the gospel-writer who goes into most detail about her situation (Mark 5:24-34). Having suffered under several doctors, she was getting worse rather than better. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd. Ignoring the risk of humiliation and the fear that could have plagued her, she reached out to touch Jesus because she thought: “If I can just touch His clothes, I will be healed”.

In this woman’s case, touch brought her physical healing, but it can also heal the emotions. I think of my friend Carol. At times when I can’t articulate how I’m feeling, a hug from Carol seems to spread not only her love, but God’s peace and love too. Not everyone is comfortable with physical touch and not every culture welcomes it, but for me, it goes very deep. When given by a friend or family-member, it reassures me I’m accepted and loved.

Women and the Love-Languages: Quality Time

Let’s take ourselves back to the early church. Jesus has died and risen; the Holy Spirit has empowered His followers to start talking about the difference He’s made in their lives, and people are hearing them. A Jew called Apollos learnt about Jesus and eagerly spoke about Him, but the only baptism he knew was that of John the Baptist – Jesus’ forerunner. John’s teaching had prepared him for Christ’s coming, but he hadn’t been baptised (immersed) into Christ, so Priscilla and her husband Aquila “took him to their home and helped him better understand the way of God” (Acts 18:26). This resulted in Apollos travelling to southern Greece and being a great help to believers there.

If you’re ministering as part of a couple, Priscilla and Aquila could be your example. They certainly remind me of some friends of mine, Kate and Neil, who spent quality time with me and helped me better understand the way of God. They’re such special people. They seem to be on the go virtually from the moment they wake up till their heads touch the pillows and wherever they are, they brighten up their community. Could you be that supportive presence to someone else, investing in them to meet their need and help them grow?

Women and the Love-Languages: Words of Affirmation

Have you read “The Five Love-Languages” by Gary Chapman? It would probably be in my top five favourite books because of the impact it’s had on me. Today, on International Women’s Day, I want to start a series on some women in the Bible (and some of the women in my life) who’ve shown these five different facets of love.

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David was chosen to be king over Israel long before he actually reigned. His predecessor (King Saul) had disobeyed God and been rejected by Him, so there was an in-between stage. Saul was still alive and therefore still king, but David was avidly following God, knowing he would be next. It’s during this time that we meet Nabal and his wife Abigail. David appeals to Nabal’s generosity, since his men have never harmed or stolen from any of Nabal’s shepherds, but Nabal doesn’t recognise David as an important man. Out of all his wealth, he gives him nothing. When Abigail hears about this, she hastens to right the wrong (1 Samuel 25:18-35). She brings the gift her husband failed to give, and speaks words of blessing over David. “The Lord will certainly let your family have many kings, because you fight His battles. As long as you live, may you do nothing bad. Someone might chase you to kill you, but the Lord your God will keep you alive. He will throw away your enemies’ lives as He would throw a stone from a sling. The Lord will keep all His promises of good things for you. He will make you leader over Israel.” David heeds those words and thanks to her dedication, many lives are spared.

My friend Alex speaks encouraging words over my life. For example, if I think I’m not writing enough songs, she’ll say: “Maybe God wants you to use what you’ve got.” Her timely words lift my spirit. Can you lift someone’s spirit with your life-affirming words today?

The Languages of Angels

Speech/language/words.  This week’s prompt from Kirsten gives me an excuse to tell you something I’ve just picked up on.  A bit of background:  I’ve read “The Five Love-Languages” before.  I didn’t see anything wrong with a single person reading a book about marriage, because I thought the lessons I learnt from it could be helpful in other relationships, such as friendships.  The author obviously agrees because he’s now written editions specifically for men, single adults and parents.  I haven’t read those, but the book “God Speaks Your Love-Language:  How to Feel and Reflect God’s Love” intrigued me.  I thought:  How can we express our love to God in the language of physical touch, when He’s not physically present with us?  So I read the book, and the small-group study guide at the end pointed me to 1 Corinthians 13:

“I may speak in different languages of people or even angels” (verse 1).  I wondered:  If God speaks our love-language, is it possible that angels speak the five love-languages, too?  Suddenly, into my mind came these examples.

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Words of Affirmation:  These were spoken to Gideon.  “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” (Judges 6:12).  The angel Gabriel also used them when he visited Mary.  “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God” (Luke 1:30).

Quality Time:  In Genesis 18:1-22, angels spent quality time with Abraham before their visit to Sodom.  He even washed their feet and gave them a meal!

Gifts:  In 1 Kings 19:5-8, an angel came to Elijah with gifts of bread and water at a time when he was weak and tired.

Acts of Service:  Hebrews tells us that angels are serving spirits, and they served Jesus in the wilderness when He’d finished being tempted by the devil.  In one of my favourite books, “Appointment in Jerusalem”, an angel carries Lydia’s toddler to safety.

Physical Touch:  In the garden at Gethsemane, an angel strengthened Jesus.  In my other favourite book, “The Shaming of the Strong”, an angel calms five-year-old Amelia when she’s lost in a storm.  An angel appeared to two of my friends when they were struggling financially.

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Can you think of Biblical or modern-day examples of angels speaking the five love-languages – words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch?  Have you ever thought which of these makes you, or someone close to you, feel most loved?