If you are a man or a woman and claim to be a believer and part of the church, you are Jesus’s wife. You are His Bride and He is the bridegroom, and if we are His Bride, we need to ask ourselves the question, “what type of wife am I?” Am I asking God to send me a spouse, when I’m not even a good wife to Him. If you are saved, do you recognize you are part of the Bride of Christ? And instead of getting people to try and understand your love language, how about you trying to understand God’s love language.
Do you know what God’s love language is?
A) Quality time B) Words of affirmation C) Gifts D) Acts of service E) Physical touch F) All of the above
Answer: F, all of the above.
First of all, Jesus loves quality time. He loves when you spend time with Him in prayer. He loves when you dedicate the morning and just bask in His presence, and seek His face and dwell in His Word. He loves quality time when you dedicate the evening or when you set apart a time in your life where you’re fasting to get closer to God. You want to hear His voice and want to know His sound, and want to be in His presence. God loves quality time.
The Lord loves words of affirmation, not because He needs to be affirmed, but He knows that when you affirm Him, it affirms you! Can I mess with you a second? You don’t read the Bible for God, you don’t read the Bible for God, you don’t pray for God, you’re not watching this message for God, you don’t listen to sermons for God, you don’t worship for God, all that’s for you. You praying is not going to make God any more faithful.
It’s not going to make Him any more Holy, it’s not going to make Him any more righteous. You worshipping is going to help your mind from worrying, because you can not worry and worship at the same time, and a lot of us has got it muddled. We think we’re doing God a service, because we attend church, because we are giving, because we are praying, because we are fasting, and God’s like… don’t you understand I’m already Holy? I can’t get any holier than I already am. I am in a lane all by Myself, there’s no league, I have no competition. The devil’s not even my adversary, I have no competitors, no adversities! You are doing this for you, you’re doing this for your words of affirmation, it affirms you.
He loves when you use your gifts, why? Because He gave them to you. He loves when you worship, because you are using that gift. He loves when you exercise your gift of artistry, your gift of speaking, that gift of business skills, He loves when you do that, because it shows Him off.
The Lord loves acts of service, when you are serving your community, when you’re serving your wife, when you’re serving in the Church. He loves service because you are His hands and feet, so it makes Him look good when you do this!
And God loves physical touch, you know how you touch the heart of God. Anytime you choose His will over your will, that touches His heart. Anytime you say, “God I don’t want to do this, but I trust you and you’re my husband and I’m going to follow you, and I’m going to submit to you, it gives God glory.
One of the most common things that couples say to me is, “My wife and I just can’t seem to have a normal conversation anymore with each other. Our words seem so superficial and only about the facts of the day. We just never get to those heart-to-heart times of fellowship we used to have before we got married.” Have you ever thought or said these words? If you have, then this article is for you.
Why does conversation seem to turn in this superficial direction within a marriage? Once you understand why the communication has deteriorated between you, then you will see how to change it.
Why does communication deteriorate over time?
1. Holding resentment from past unresolved conflicts. This is one of the most common and obvious reasons why communication deteriorates in a relationship. If a prior conflict is not fully resolved, the heart becomes closed and the walls will go up and communication will shut down. This is why Solomon told his son, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.” (Prov. 18:19). If you have been fortifying your heart with bars, you have unresolved issues. If you want the superficiality to be removed then you must identify and deal with these conflicts.
2. Hardening your heart. When you refuse to resolve your conflicts, a hardened heart will always be the natural result. Why is this true? Paul equated hardness of heart with an unwillingness to repent of your sin. He warned the Romans that, “because of your“hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5). If you are hard-hearted today, there will not be any heart-to-heart fellowship between you. It is an impossibility!
3. Allowing pride to control you.When pride controls your heart, you will relate to each other in one of two ways. First, you can be verbally harsh, authoritarian, and speak to your spouse with a superior attitude. Or secondly, pride can also make you indifferent to your mate’s requests to talk, and cause you to be unwilling to confess your own faults. These attitudes will only result in the walls being fortified between you. Remember, “By pride comes nothing but strife” (Prov. 13:10). Pride is the death-nail to heart-to-heart fellowship.
4. An unwillingness to talk. When one or both of you stops being willing to talk, your hearts only grow harder, and the walls are strengthened (Acts 7:57). This refusal to talk things through is another sign of the pride and hardness of your hearts. You are, in reality, moving further backwards and not forward in your relationship.
5. Dominating the conversation. If you dominate a conversation by the number of words you use, to attempt to overpower your mate’s point of view, this will only further drive you apart. You should never think that you “will be heard” by the number of words you use (Matt. 6:7). If you say the same thing over and over again but just in different ways, and you don’t allow your spouse to respond, nothing will get accomplished. This again only reveals more pride within your heart.
6. Trying to control and force. When one or both spouses attempt to dominate the conversation, this is a controlling and forcing technique that only assures there will not be a true heart-to-heart conversation. Trying to control a person or a conversation is not love! Controlling behavior is also another form of pride.
7. Not being a good listener.Listening is a vital part of good communication. But, do you want to be heard more than you want to listen? Do you interrupt your spouse and not allow them to complete their thought before you begin your rebuttal? Solomon declared this behavior as folly. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). The word folly means stupid or to be without wisdom. This unwise practice will guarantee that there will be no heart-to-heart fellowship.
8. Lying and deceitfulness. When there is dishonesty between two people there will be no trust. Lying to one another is a rejection of your marital oneness with each other. Paul said, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). If Paul taught this truth concerning Christians in general, how much more would it hinder your marital oneness (Gen. 2:24)? Lying and deceitfulness calls into question your entire relationship together.
9. Harsh and condemning words. Harsh words are like small knife wounds or razor blade cuts that slowly drain the life out of your love relationship. David said of his enemies who constantly pursued him, “Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully”(Ps. 52:2). When harsh and condemning words are allowed to thrive in a relationship, they will bring destruction to every marriage. Be assured, there will be no heart-to-heart conversation within this marriage!
10. You don’t want to reveal anything that might be used against you in the next conflict. If you are afraid to be honest about what you are thinking, feeling, or what you have done, there can be no real intimacy in your conversations. This kind of fear will shut down any real heart-to-heart discussion, because there is no trust. If you are afraid to open your heart to your spouse, it reveals that there are several basic needs missing in your marriage.
11. Not spending time together. Sometimes the distance grows between a couple not because they have a major communication problem, but simply because they just don’t spend much one-on-one time together. When you don’t take the time to date each other, pray with one another, or recreate together, the closeness and friendship between you will die. Before you were married, as you dated, you spent plenty of one-on-one time together, which is why the communication was so much better. Don’t allow all of the distractions of life to keep you from the one person you are to be one flesh with.
These are just a few of the hindrances to heart-to-heart communication. If you recognize yourself in any of the above issues, you must realize that this is the reason the communication has deteriorated in your marriage. I would suggest asking God to forgive you, and then turning to your spouse and doing the same. Then take the steps in the next few paragraphs.
How to change the way you communicate, and get back to heart-to-heart fellowship.
1. You need to confront the problem. Many times, when couples struggle and they sense the distance growing between them, they beat around the bush with their mate, and don’t specifically address the problem. This is a major mistake. When this happens the problem only gets worse. If your car was running roughly or wouldn’t start, you wouldn’t just hope that the engine trouble would resolve itself. You would take the car into the mechanic to get the problem resolved. If you chose not to do this, one morning you would go out to start your car, and it wouldn’t run. So, don’t let the lack of heart-to-heart fellowship in your marriage get any worse. Resolve to talk to your spouse about it today.
How should you bring up this problem with your mate? Choose a weekend day, when you and your mate are not tired, and there are no distractions. Find a time when you can be alone, with the children playing outside, or at a friend’s house. Ask your spouse to sit down to talk, and express that you believe that you are drifting apart. Express your love and desire to change things between you. Don’t blame your spouse, but express that both of you are at fault, and that both of you need to make some changes. Go through the following steps.
2. Reconcile past issues. If you regularly fight about specific issues with your spouse, or you have past issues that have never been resolved, make a list of these conflicts and begin a discussion about how you can resolve them. Without a truly reconciled relationship with your spouse, your communication will never be heart-to-heart. Unresolved conflicts are what caused you to drift away from each other, and resolving them is the first step back. To help, I have two worksheets that would be very helpful for you to begin the process. Go to www.covenantkeepers.org and click on “Articles” and then “Worksheets” and print “How to Resolve Conflicts” and “How to Solve Conflicts.” Work through these together with your spouse to begin the reconciliation process.
Jesus made it absolutely clear that resolving conflicts with anyone was one of His top priorities. He said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus also said, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24). So, if you have resentment toward your mate, or you know your spouse is upset with you, you have the responsibility to go to them and try to reconcile the issue. Keep talking and praying until it is resolved. When you take this step, you are removing one of the greatest impediments to having a heart-to-heart relationship again.
3. Admit your communication failures. Humility concerning your faults and your communicative abilities, is absolutely essential to opening up a new and deeper fellowship with your spouse. God has explained in many places throughout the Scripture that if you want revival and awakening in your souls, you must humble yourself. God spoke through Isaiah the Prophet and said, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones’” (Isa. 57:15). Jesus spoke heart-to-heart with anyone who would listen to Him, and He was “gentle and lowly at heart” (Matt. 11:29). Humility is a fundamental key to this entire process.
Go back and look at the list of communication failures that I gave at the beginning of this article and consider if any of these are yours. Do you do any of these behaviors? If you do, turn from these today!
4. Be vulnerable. How does vulnerability affect your ability to communicate with your spouse? It reveals your willingness to be honest and open with your mate. Vulnerability allows you to admit your faults, ask forgiveness, and listen to your wife or husband’s thoughts, and speak heart-to-heart. This is why Jesus taught His disciples to, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5). What is Jesus encouraging in this verse? He wanted His disciple’s to be honest with themselves about their own sins before they ever tried to tell others about their faults. Honesty with yourself is an absolute necessity if you want to become vulnerable with your mate.
King David revealed his own vulnerability throughout the Psalms. What an example for all of us to follow. He could talk about his failures and sins, his fears, his personal struggles, and his hopes (Ps. 51:3; Ps. 34:4; Ps. 119:81; Ps. 42:5). But the question is, will you be vulnerable like this with your mate? If you won’t, then don’t expect your spouse to be vulnerable with you. If you want heart-to-heart communication with your mate, then vulnerability is essential!
5. Vulnerability also requires that you walk in humility. The essence of vulnerability is humility. You know your own struggles and faults; therefore, you are not quick to judge your spouse for his or her faults. You can admit your needs before your mate. You can give and receive encouragement and correction from your spouse. Note how open Paul the Apostle was with the elders of the church of Ephesus. He said to them, “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews” (Acts 20:18-19). Can you talk about your struggles with your spouse? If your husband or wife has some helpful encouragement or correction, will you listen to it and not get angry?
Humility also enables a mutual submissiveness with your mate that further enables this openness and vulnerability. Peter clearly commanded this kind of fellowship with others when he said, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5). Humility is the key to this submissive attitude that can listen to the other. In addition, without this vulnerability and humility, you will forfeit the great grace God wants to bestow upon your marriage relationship.
6. Choose your words carefully. One of the most critical requirements for heart-to-heart fellowship with your spouse will be the words that you choose to use. As Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). The word soft in this verse means tender or gentle words. The word harsh means to speak offensive and hurtful words. So, which takes place with your spouse on a regular basis, tender and gentle words, or offensive and hurtful ones?
Only you have the ability to choose how you will speak with your mate. You are the only one who can change the words you speak. Don’t blame-shift and excuse your own responsibility by saying, “I wouldn’t talk the way I do, if he or she didn’t come off so harsh toward me.” Being honest with yourself is vital in changing this part of your communication. You have the choice as to how you will respond! God has made it clear what He wants, He said, “choose what pleases Me” (Is. 56:4). This is your responsibility!
You can say things several different ways if you choose. When your spouse fails to do what you have asked them to do, you can say, “This is the fifth time I’ve told you that this bothers me. What is your problem? Are you deaf, or are you just dumb?” Or, you can say, “Honey did you forget about this or that issue? This is really important to me.” Then explain the reason why this issue is so important to you. Which response would create a conflict, and which would help you get to a solution? The answer is obvious!
7. Become a better listener. In most marriages one person is more verbal that the other. The person who is more verbal usually dominates the conversations which hinders the less verbal person from taking. Consequently, the less verbal spouse begins to believe their mate does not value their thoughts and opinions. This causes the less verbal person to retreat and not share equally, which destroys the ability to have a heart-to-heart fellowship together. This is why James taught the church, “My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”(James 1:19).
How can you change this imbalance? It is just a choice. The more verbal spouse must learn to use less words, and the less verbal person needs to use more words. For couples that just can’t seem to do it, I recommend using a kitchen timer. Set it for one minute, and say whatever you need to say. Then reset it for your spouse, and allow them to talk without interruption. This ensures equal time. Eventually people learn to discipline themselves to give this equal time to each other. Remember, you can’t have heart-to-heart talks when only one person is allowed to talk.
8. It takes two to tango. The tango is the most intimate dance that two people can enjoy. Each must move and step in a precise manner, or the couple will step all over each other, or fall to the floor. My point is that communication is like the tango. Both partners must participate and work together to enable heart-to-heart fellowship. It can’t be done alone. You need a willing heart, and your spouse also must be willing. You both must deal with your own personal faults, and you both must choose to be vulnerable with one another. Each of you must listen and give equal time to the other to respond.
Therefore, I encourage you to respond to the Lord in your personal life, and allow Him to work within you to change the way you communicate. Focus on getting to the place of heart-to-heart communication with each other. It will take work, but the work will bring the rewarding relationship you desire.
All of the steps I have just outlined in this article must be obeyed by both partners. It can’t be done by just one spouse alone. One of you must choose to start to speak heart-to-heart with the other. Trust that God will soften your spouse to respond. Remember, not even God Himself with all His power and authority, can by Himself fix the relationship with mankind. Ultimately, reconciliation requires men to respond to Him in repentance. This is why Jesus commanded those who heard Him to, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). So, I am asking you to repent of your side of the problem as it relates to communication, and humble yourself before God and your spouse. You take the step to start the conversation. You won’t regret it!
There are a few theories out there on why women over a certain age are not married. Many of these may be stereotypical while others hold some truth.
I will be focusing on one of the most important reasons for why some single women are not married.
Before I go ahead, I want you to know this was hard to write, not because it’s not true but because of the magnitude of truth. I had touched on it in a previous post but had felt the burden in my spirit to focus squarely on it.
I know God wants me to speak about this and to do so in clear terms.
Here it is:
We are not married because we will forget God. Because getting married will take us away from God.
We have knowingly or unknowingly replaced God with marriage where our true service and our true love is not God but marriage or what we believe marriage will give us.
Our prayers for a good man have been unanswered and heaven has been silent not because God wants to deny us the good gifts he has for us but because he knows that this very thing we want will take us away from him.
We may promise or vow that we will be closer to him when we get married but is that really the truth?
We have to realise that God sees through our words. He is the only one that knows the true state of our hearts and our intentions.
Which means we can’t pay lip service to loving him.
WHERE IS GOD IN YOUR LIFE?
What are the things that matter to you? The things you focus all of your time and energy on. Many of us are so consumed with the need to get married and have children that every other thing takes second place.
Marriage becomes an idol in our lives and this idol will only grow bigger when we’re married to include the very husband and children we have desperately desired.
When we do this, we miss out on the most important relationship we could ever have.
One thing about idols is that we often don’t even realize what they are. We don’t realise how our identity, our happiness and our successes are tied to these idols.
Dear friend, it’s time for some honest introspection. Have you placed marriage on a pedestal? Do you believe your life will only make sense when you’re married and have children?
Do you equate your marriage with finding your purpose?
Well, I’m here to tell you that it will not happen. Should you force God’s hand or marry without recourse to him, you may find that your marriage becomes a den of problems rather than a haven of peace.
These words may seem harsh and hard but it wouldn’t be the first time. A look at the Bible will show how God feels when we demote him from his rightful place in our lives. The first and everlasting commandment is that we love God and that he remains number one in our lives.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”
“You shall fear the Lord your God and him only shall you serve…”
Deutronomy 6:13 (para.)
GOD MUST COME BEFORE MARRIAGE
Nothing and no one should take his place.
If you know you may have unknowingly done this, I know God is calling you to repent and come back to him.
“Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”
Never forget that God gave us marriage as a gift and for a purpose – for companionship, for his glory and propagation of his kingdom. We cannot misuse this gift.
Similarly, God is not a trader neither is he Santa Clause. Be careful that your worship is not a trade by barter where you believe you should be rewarded with a good husband for serving God.
We are to serve him and love him because his is God and is worthy of all our praise.
GOD LOVES YOU AND WANTS THE BEST FOR YOU
Here’s another truth, repenting and changing our ways does not mean we will get married. Even if we were to love God without pretence or expectation, we have to realise this is not an automatic opening for marriage.
Marriage is not a reward for being good
Why? Because God’s plan for your life may mean that you will get married now, later or not at all.
I know this is hard to read much more accept but it doesn’t change the truth. God knows the path he has for you, trust him to bring it to pass. I promise you that it will be the best for you.
We need to remember that Our time on earth is merely a blip in eternity.
According to Rick Warren of The Purpose Driven Life “Measured against eternity, our time on earth is just a blink of an eye, but the consequences of it will last forever. The deeds of this life are the destiny of the next.”
Which means we have to be careful how we spend it since it is this temporary life that determines our permanent location (heaven or hell, life or death).
I hope looking at your life this way gives you perspective and helps you prioritize the permanent things over the temporary.
GET MARRIED FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
Dear friend, please don’t get married for marriage’s sake. Do it because you believe it is the right time and the right person.
Don’t scheme, pretend, lie or sin to get married, your life and identity in Christ is worth more than that.
I am always comforted knowing that God knows what’s best for us. You might not understand why it’s taken this long, you might even think he’s forgotten you, but know that he hasn’t.
He wants us to trust that he will give us what is right for us. Even if you’re feeling the pressures, even if everyone around you is getting married (and did it on their own terms, without God), realise that you’re different. No two lives are the same, so stop focusing on the lives of others.
As God’s child, you’re working under heaven’s rules not earth’s rules. This means you cannot live according to the precepts of the world even though you’re in the world.
Be encouraged! Remember that with God, it will all work out for your good and will definitely be better than anything you could have imagined for yourself.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I just wasn’t feeling the love. If everyone has a love tank, mine was low. And it was making me cranky. I have read about loving your husband, but love was the last thing I was feeling.
It wasn’t my husband’s fault really. Due to military life, I hadn’t seen him in a month and didn’t get to talk to him as much as when he’s home. I wasn’t getting my quality time. Or my words of affirmation. Or my acts of service. Or physical touch. Or gifts. None of the five love languages and I was feeling it.
The lies began in my mind. “He doesn’t really want to come home.” “He would be texting you more if he really missed you.” “He would have sent you flowers if he really cared.”
I knew I was only feeling this way because my love tank was low. And I knew it wasn’t my husband’s fault at all. I knew deep down he wanted to come home to me just as much as I wanted him to get home. But that didn’t stop me from feeling grumpy. If he took too long to text back, I wanted to lash out. I wanted to say, “Forget it. You don’t really care!”
Thankfully, I’ve read some great books on marriage and I’ve heard some great sermons on being a godly wife. The things I have learned over the years came back to me. I remembered how in one book it told me that I have to give love to my husband even when he doesn’t deserve it. Even when I’m not feeling love, I have to give love.
If I lashed out, it would cause him to lash out, which would cause me to lash out. We would both be hurt and therefore angry at one another. A vicious cycle would ensue and round and round we’d go into a big ugly fight. A fight that would really only be caused by circumstances we can’t change and lies being thrown by Satan.
So this time, instead of throwing angry words and causing a fight, I wrote Travis a big long text telling him how much I loved him and how much I couldn’t wait for him to get home. I went to the grocery store and I bought him a bunch of his favorite foods to have when he got home. I made the choice to love him even though I wasn’t feeling much love.
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” — Psalm 141:3
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” — Colossians 2:20
I realized I can’t show Travis love only in hopes of getting love back. These books and sermons have taught me that love isn’t selfish. It’s the exact opposite. Love is selfless. Love is showing someone you care without expecting anything in return.
“When an action doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love. Ultimately, comfort is not the issue. We are talking about love, and love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself. Love is a choice.” — Gary Chapman (The 5 Love Languages)
By loving my husband this way, I am loving Christ.
Our husbands are merely vessels to Christ. We love Christ by loving our husbands. We serve Christ by serving our husbands. Even when our husbands deserve the exact opposite of love, we should love them because that is what Christ has called us to do. It’s an act of obedience.
“With eyes of faith, envision Jesus standing just beyond the shoulder of your spouse and listening to every word you speak in every conversation, pleasant or tense. When you speak lovingly or respectfully to your spouse, you are speaking to Christ. Your spouse just happens to be there too.” — Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (Love and Respect)
The great thing about love is it can become a cycle as well. When we pour all our love into our husbands, it changes them. It makes them want to love back.
If we love on our husbands, it would cause our husbands to want to show us love, which would cause us to love him better. We would both feel loved and therefore happy with one another. A virtuous cycle would ensue and round and round we’d go into a healthy marriage!
I know this is something I’m still learning. It’s something I will always have to be striving for, always asking God to help me love my husband the same way Christ loves me — even when my own love tank is low. Because when we speak lovingly to our spouses, no matter how they have spoken to or treated us, we are speaking lovingly to our God who so desperately deserves it.
How have you struggled with loving your husband? In what ways, have you loved him even when you weren’t feeling love in return?
***Article and Photo By Tiffany at Seeingsunshine.com
“Please help me! Please don’t send me back!” screamed 7-year-old Preena as she jumped into Amy Carmichael’s lap, clinging to her neck. The little girl had just escaped from a Hindu temple in the middle of the night while her guardians were sleeping. She tiptoed quietly through an unlocked door and pushed open the heavy gate running as fast as she could.
Preena’s mother had given her to the temple priests in hopes of winning the favor of the gods. Amy did not know what was going on, but she knew this little-frightened girl needed her love and protection.
The Missionary: Amy Carmichael
Amy Carmichael had come to India as a missionary to reach those who did not know Jesus. Amy was sure that God did not want her to marry and have children of her own. That decision had been settled many years before. But was He now asking her to settle down and become a mother to an unwanted Indian child?
Life in Ireland
Amy Carmichael grew up in a wealthy family in Ireland. Her father owned a flour mill business. She went to the best boarding schools and had many fine things.
But one day Amy’s life changed without warning. Her father’s business began to lose money and it closed. Mr. Carmichael worried so much about his business that he became ill and died.
The family could no longer afford expensive things. Amy had to drop out of school. She spent the next ten years helping her mother take care of her younger sisters and brothers.
One cold, dreary day as the young Amy, her mother and brothers left the church, Amy saw something that changed her life. An old beggar woman came staggering out of the alley. Her clothes were torn and mud-soaked rags covered her feet. Amy felt sorry for the woman. She and her brother helped the old woman down the alley. When she saw other people from church pass by them, she was embarrassed to be seen with the woman and hid her face. As she continued to walk with the beggar, Amy noticed a fountain in the center of the road. She studied it closely. Then she heard a voice say, “Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and straw — the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If the foundation survives, he will receive the reward.” She turned to see who was speaking but saw no one. Amy knew that she appeared kind by helping the old woman, but she knew her heart was wrong. From that moment on, she decided to hold her head high. She was no longer embarrassed. When she got home, she searched the bible and found the words she had heard. Amy knelt by her bed and promised God that in the future she would only do things to please him.
Another time she and her mother stopped to have tea and biscuits in a restaurant. As they ate, Amy saw a dirty little beggar girl with her nose pressed against the window. The poor little girl, with no food, touched Amy so much that she made another promise. She promised that when she grew up she would give her money to the poor.
Amy Carmichael became very excited about doing what God wanted her to do. On Saturday evenings, she would go with her pastor to the poor neighborhoods to hand out tracts and food to the poor people known as Shawlies. The Shawlies made so little money that they could not afford hats so they used their shawls to protect their heads from the cold. They were eager to learn about God. Amy’s heart went out to them. She moved into their neighborhood and slept in bug-infested beds to be closer to the people. She prayed about building a church for them to attend but didn’t know where she would get money for such a large job. She did not want to ask the rich people in her old church who didn’t seem to care about the Shawlies. Instead, she and the Shawlies asked God to provide it. God answered their prayers and a new church was built.
Time to Move On
Amy began to sense that God wanted her to tell people in other countries about him. There was one problem though. Amy had an illness that made her so sick she had to stay in bed days at a time. Despite her health, she knew she must obey God.
Life In India
Amy traveled the India countryside telling anyone who would listen about Christ.
One day Preena, a little Indian girl, was collecting water for the temple near where Amy was speaking. Preena stopped to listen as Amy told the ladies about her God who loved everybody the same. He did not put people in different classes as the Indian caste system did. Preena was very interested in what Amy was saying but knew she must not be seen listening to the stranger. She tucked Amy’s words into her memory and hurried back to the temple.
Indian girls were often unwanted and were given to the temple to serve as prostitutes. Because of this, when Preena arrived at Amy’s door, Amy knew she could not send her back. The little girl would be beaten, even killed, if she were returned. Amy could have been charged with kidnapping and thrown into prison. But it was a chance she was willing to take.
Over the 50 years she spent in India, Amy Carmichael took in hundreds of unwanted children. She became known as “Amma” or mother to them.
God’s love should be reflected in our actions no matter how big or small the action is. So, let us honor God by serving and giving what He has given us. This is a true act of service to all.
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20-35).
In Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” there is one love language that is called “Acts of Service.” On the website, it says that these are the people that seek action rather than hearing words that pertain to affirmation. Even so, this does not mean that love-affirming words do not affect these people, it is that they view acts of service, both received and shown, as love.
For example, when Mary poured the expensive oil called “pure nard” on Jesus’ feet, she was performing an act of service to Jesus by anointing Him (John 12). But an even better example, the most important example is that Jesus came to serve and to give His life for us so that we could be saved.
“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).
Faith and Acts of Service
In James 2, the Bible talks about faith and works. The Bible says that “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’ — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” (James 2:14-16).
Therefore, it is true that actions speak louder than words said. You can have the faith that your spouse will be healed or anything that you are believing in. Prayer is an act of service too. But many times, we believe and do not pray.
Many times, we have faith and do not serve or act. Jesus’ act of service for us was sacrificing Himself by being tortured, bruised, battered, and dying the most horrible death that we deserved. No one can comprehend the love that God has for us by sending His Son to die for our sins.
God did not have to do that, and Jesus did not have to go through with it all. But because of His love, His act of sacrificing His life for us is an act of service that no one could ever do again. My point is that serving one another is truly love as we are called to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Serving Ourselves Vs. Others
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-4).
One of the most difficult things to do in life is denying yourself to others. Showing love for others has our pride submitted to humility and service to God. But if we let our pride, our ways, or our own thoughts rule over our humility, then we are a disservice to God and others. We know what to do but do not (James 4:17) because of prideful, selfish reasons.
Even the smallest acts that are selfish could be that you choose something that you wanted at the supermarket, and you do not ask your spouse if they want something too. That may seem very small and insignificant, but the small actions count too.
Those small actions can lead to greater actions that could negatively affect the relationship. Hebrews 13:16 says,“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
But knowing that you would rather serve yourself rather than others is not showing God’s love and grace to others. As hard as it may be, we have to learn to be more selfless and show God’s love to others.
The Greatest Mission of All
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love — the perfect bond of unity.
And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:12-17).
Jesus asks us to go into the world to speak the Good News to all, to make disciples, heal the sick, raise the dead, and much more. He has commissioned us to do His work of saving the lost. This is an act of service. We love because He loves (1 John 4:19).
We serve because He served us. We sacrifice because Jesus sacrificed His life for our sins. How could we hold back what we have learned from Jesus and not give that knowledge to others? We are chosen because God believes and trusts us to serve Him by speaking the Good News to the world.
God’s love should be reflected in our actions no matter how big or small the action is. So, let us honor God by serving and giving what He has given us. This is a true act of service to all.
A Closing Prayer
Father, I thank you for giving us these revelations and showing us what true acts of service are. I thank you, God, for giving your Son so that we could live again. I pray for all of us to learn to be selfless and show your love to God to the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Making an intentional effort to regularly bring presents to one’s spouse, family, children, or friend with this love language can tell them “I love you” and strengthen relationships through continued effort and acts of love.
According to Dr. Gary Chapman in his popular bestselling book, The Five Love Languages, there are five “love languages,” which communicate love to another person. Every person has their own “language” through which they feel loved. These different “love languages” include touch, acts of service, quality time, affirming words, and receiving gifts.
Based on the information in Dr. Chapman’s book, couples can invest in the quality of their marriage by being aware of their own primary love language and learning how their spouse feels loved through the five languages of love. While this method has been used by married couples, it also is beneficial in showing love to family, friends, and children.
One of the five love languages is receiving gifts. Those who identify with this “language” feel loved when they receive presents from others. Many people may misunderstand these acts as promoting materialism.
However, individuals who identify with this love language are not necessarily focused on the item they receive, but rather the tangible act of receiving an item that represents the other person’s love for them.
To help provide clarity to this topic, this article will look at what receiving gifts mean in regard to showing love to others, what this looks like in everyday life, how this love language correlates to Scripture, and why this information is important.
Representations of Love
A person whose primary love language is receiving gifts feels most loved when they receive gifts from those they love. These presents may be extravagant or simple, but a person with this “language” appreciates these keepsakes because of what they represent.
To them, the gift is much more than a material item since it reminds them that they are loved and cherished by someone. Oftentimes, people who most enjoy giving gifts to others, for special occasions or spontaneously, are the ones who have the love language of receiving gifts.
Throughout time, people around the world in various cultures have understood that giving and receiving gifts convey love to another person. Whether such gifts are jewelry, flowers, cards, poems, or music, gifts do have the power to tell another person, “I love you.”
Thus, those who know someone who values gifts as an act of love need to be aware of how important this is in their relationship. Regularly giving presents to a person who speaks this language is vital to ensuring they feel loved.
Even small gifts, such as a food item or a handwritten note, can make the other person’s heart fill up with the message that they are cherished. Doing this regularly out of a place of love for the other person will make a major difference in one’s marriage, family, or friendship.
With knowing the power of giving gifts, individuals need to be careful not to misunderstand or misuse this love language. First, the person who requires presents to feel loved is not being selfish or greedy.
Instead, they value gifts because of what the item represents. To them, presents have sentimental qualities and cause them to remember that they are loved by the person from whom they received the gift. In addition to avoiding any misunderstanding about receiving gifts to feel loved, individuals must also be aware of the danger of misusing this love language.
Potentially, a spouse or loved one could use another person’s primary love language against them by deliberately withholding acts of love.
Doing this can cause the other person to feel hurt and neglected, which is not a God-honoring way to act. Individuals should use the knowledge of love languages to strengthen their relationships with others instead of causing hurt.
How Can I Do This?
1. Remembering important days and holidays is essential. A wife whose love language is receiving gifts will eagerly await her anniversary and expect a present as a tangible expression of her husband’s love.
If he fails to remember the date and neglects to bring his wife a present, the message expressed to her will be, “I don’t care about our marriage.” However, if her husband remembers and provides a special gift, she will know that her husband does care about their marriage and still loves her just as much as the day they were married.
2. Giving gifts on ordinary days is also important. These gifts do not have to be lavishly expensive or dramatic. Instead, simple gifts on ordinary days of the week can also have a significant impact in expressing love. For instance, buying a friend a cup of coffee before heading to work can demonstrate one’s care.
Also, a parent can lovingly remind a child that they are thinking of him or her by packing a handwritten note in their lunchbox for school. Such gifts are simple, yet profound because it tells others that someone cares for them.
3. Giving gifts should stem from a heart of love toward the other person. A person whose love language is receiving gifts will benefit the most if they receive presents that are given from the heart. Truly, it is the “thought that counts” and not necessarily the gift.
Handing over items with a bad attitude or irritation will not make a loved one feel cherished. Instead, such an action would cause more damage than good. Thus, people must be careful not to present gifts to others by mere habit or duty, but rather from the sincerity of the heart (Romans 12:9).
The Connection to Scripture
Those who do not have the love language of receiving gifts as their own primary love language may find it challenging to understand how giving and receiving presents can be an expression of love to others.
However, the Bible also connects gifts with love, as shown in God’s loving gift of His Son and eternal life through Him. As John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God the Father gave His Son to die on behalf of mankind’s sins, which is the ultimate expression of love (Romans 5:8). Furthermore, salvation is a gift based on God’s graceand received by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Based on Scripture, God clearly communicates in the love language of receiving gifts. He has graciously offered the gift of salvation to all who believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection (Romans 10:9-10). Truly, in Christ believers have been given all they need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The love of God is evident in what He has offered as a gift to all humans.
Christians have been the recipients of the amazing love of Jesus. In discussing the topic of presents, however, receiving gifts must be kept in balance with giving to others. Jesus did say, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Because of the love He has freely given, followers of Christ can also freely give to others, both in the form of love as well as material needs or gifts.
Since those who value receiving gifts as a form of love are also often the ones who enjoy gifting others to show love, giving can often come naturally. All people, regardless of love language, should strive to give of themselves just as Christ did (John 15:13). In doing so, they can model the wonderful love of God to others.
Why Is This Important?
Generally, Dr. Chapman’s book on love languages has greatly impacted how married couples, families, and friends interact with each other and deepen their relationships.
Both secular and Christian counselors utilize the methods discussed in Dr. Chapman’s numerous books on the topic of love languages for couples, singles, teenagers, and children. Understanding how others feel most loved can enable individuals to love others better in a way that reflects God’s love.
Through knowledge about the love language of receiving gifts, people can be equipped to express love to those who have this primary love language.
Making an intentional effort to regularly bring presents to one’s spouse, family, children, or friend with this love language can tell them “I love you” and strengthen relationships through continued effort and acts of love.
Those who take the time to learn about the “language” their loved ones speak are demonstrating sacrificial love and concern for others, which reflects Christ’s love to a watching world (John 13:34).
Physical touch is more than sex. People who have this as their primary love language express and receive love through hugging, cuddling, holding hands, a back rub, or any other kind of touch that is appropriate in the moment.
Anytime I mention that my love Language is physical touch — it’s assumed that I feel loved through sex. But the love language of physical touch is more than that.
While sex is an important aspect of marriage, physical touch communicates meaningful expressions of love.
In fact, two of my three kids have the same love language I do. Our primary love language is physical touch and quality time together.
What Are Love Languages?
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman became a New York Times #1 bestseller in the early 1990s and has remained popular for its timeless wisdom, practical help, and how it helps us become better at loving those in our family.
Written for married couples, the book and its tips have expanded to help parents understand their children as well.
This book explores the ways people give and receive love. He explains how many of the misunderstandings and problems that arise in marriage is because we don’t know how to communicate love to our spouse.
While words of affirmation may make one spouse feel good, quality time might be the other’s love language. Through his book, individuals in relationships learn to communicate in their partner’s love language, they can strengthen their bond by keeping each other’s “love tank” full of fuel.
These five categories are how we all express our love for another and how we need to receive love. In the book, Chapman suggests that everyone receives love in at least one of five ways:
1. Quality time: Giving your partner your undivided attention like going on a date or going for walks. It’s all about giving the other person your attention.
2. Physical touch: People who have physical touch as their primary love language have a deep-felt need for appropriate touch.
3. Words of affirmation: This love language means these people need to hear how much they are loved, cherished, and appreciated.
4. Acts of service: For these people, the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words,” equals love.
5. Gifts: For some people, what makes them feel loved and cherished is to receive a gift.
The Gift of Physical Touch
Physical touch is more than sex. People who have this as their primary love language express and receive love through hugging, cuddling, holding hands, a back rub, or any other kind of touch that is appropriate in the moment.
Physical touch is the most direct way to communicate love. It is essential for the health and well-being of every human being.
Experts say the first hour of a child’s life is crucial to have skin-to-skin contact. This helps regulate their heart rate, temperature, and breathing. At the same time, a mother’s hormones are regulated as well. As the infant grows, physical touch boosts early child development.
Other studies have proven how detrimental physical touch is through intuitional isolation that is prevalent in orphanages around the world. These children often grow up in environments where touch and emotional engagement are lacking.
Many children who have not had ample physical and emotional attention are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional, and social problems. It’s clear, God created physical touch to be a powerful force of love.
What Is the Love Language of Physical Touch?
Jesus used physical touch often and made it a point even though He could heal people with just His Words. When the children came to Jesus, we see that “he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying hands on them” (Mark 10:15-16).
When Jesus saw Simon’s mother-in-law lying ill, he “took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her” (Mark 1:31).
Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him (John 13:5).
In Matthew 17:7, we read, “Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”
These are just a few passages of Jesus’ time on earth when He chose to use His hands to show His love for the world.
God created us to enjoy skin-to-skin contact because it triggers the release of certain hormones associated with pleasure and bonding as a couple.
Oxytocin is the bonding hormone, and it is released along with the rest of the feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine.
To some degree, we all need physical touch in our marriages but for those whose love language is physical touch — it’s critical.
But this type of love comes down to timing because it is primarily made up of small gestures like having your spouse put his arm around in public. It could be a hug before leaving for work, a kiss when you get home.
How to Love Someone Whose Love Language Is Physical Touch
When you hug, use both arms and your whole body, and linger for a moment in the embrace. A rule of thumb is 30 seconds, 60 is heavenly!
Give them kisses often. Whenever your spouse is feeling blue, holding them closely can make tears disappear. Cuddle in bed together. Snuggle on the couch or hold their hand. Take them dancing for date night.
Make a point of maintaining physical contact when you’re both out for events. Kiss them hello and goodbye. Kiss them in places besides the lips, like her forehead, collarbone, the back of her neck or hand. Rub her shoulders when she is stressed out.
When you hug, use both arms and your whole body, and linger for an extra moment in the embrace. Spontaneously give them a little back rub or back scratch. Always hold hands when you’re out and about. Enjoy the public displays of affection, holding hands, cuddling, and kissing!
If you’re in a marriage or dating someone who has physical touch as their love language, be sure to ask what touch makes them feel most loved and what annoys them.
These physical displays of affection are a gift and matter more than words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and gifts.
Remember Jesus modeled physical touch and used His hands to heal. In the same way, this is an immense gift to give to your spouse.
This love language is also the only category that involves verbal expression. You can spot people whose love language is based on Words of Affirmation because those people don’t hesitate to cheer others on. So, making them feel valued with words is love.
Scripture has much to say about the power of words. After all, words matter, and when it comes to our relationships, “the power of life and death” is held by the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).
Given the weighty influence of our words, it should come as no surprise that in matters of love, the “Words of Affirmation” category reigns supreme as the most common of the love languages.
What Are Love Languages?
A “love language” is a way that a person emotionally expresses and acknowledges love. Dr. Gary Chapman is a pastor and relationship expert who authored the best-selling book, The Five Love Languages.
In his book, Dr. Chapman identified five love languages that he noticed were being emotionally “spoken” by the married couples he counseled during his extensive career as a marriage counselor.
In particular, Dr. Chapman found that people tend to show affection in the same way that they like to receive it. In other words, the things that one person does to show love are the types of things that that person would like done back to feel loved.
For example, if you feel most in sync with your spouse during a romantic dinner, then Quality Time is your love language. If you’re thrilled by the thoughtfulness of a surprise gift, then you speak the language of Receiving Gifts.
Do you feel the most connected during moments of intimacy? If so, then your love language is Physical Touch. If considerate acts definitely speak louder than words for you, then you’re fluent in the Acts of Service love language.
Lastly, if you enjoy singing your sweetie’s praises and you’re overjoyed when they sing yours, then Words of Affirmation is your love lingo.
For purposes of this article, let’s zero in on the love language of Words of Affirmation, and consider ways in which you can show love through the power of your words.
What Are the ‘Words of Affirmation’ Love Language?
Think back to a time when you were told that you had done a good job on something, or when someone thanked you for your effort. Perhaps it was a boss, a friend, or a parent who recognized your hard work and verbalized their approval.
Those simple words of appreciation may have buoyed you for days or made you feel more connected to the speaker.
When it comes to married couples, Dr. Chapman tells us that words of affirmation make up the most common love language. This love language is also the only category that involves verbal expression.
You can spot people whose love language is based on Words of Affirmation because those people don’t hesitate to cheer others on. These are people who notice other people’s moods, celebrate other people’s accomplishments, and grieve when others grieve.
By the same token, these are the same people who are moved when others express their appreciation for them through words as well.
If your spouse’s primary love language is rooted in words of affirmation, here are four ways you can speak love to your beloved.
1. Call Your Spouse Just to Say, ‘I Love You’
If your loved one is reassured by words of affirmation, a phone call during the workday that may seem like an inconvenience to you may mean the world to them. The phone call doesn’t have to be long or consist of a litany of reasons you love your partner.
Rather, the phone call can simply be a quick “check-in” to make sure your sweetie is doing okay and to let him or her know that you love them.
Keep in mind that if verbal communication is hard for you, your sweetie would be over the moon if you jotted down your I love you in a quick note, email, or text.
Whatever your mode of communication, remember that sincerity is key. The effort you make in letting your loved one know that they are cherished won’t go unnoticed.
2. Speak Love by Being a Cheerleader
You know your spouse better than anyone. You know when they’re insecure or overwhelmed, hurting or just plain bummed out.
Your sweetheart may be having a string of bad days or they may be reeling from some recent bad news. Whatever the case, your words of encouragement may be the fix they need to steady their steps or bring some much-needed light to an otherwise gloomy day.
Whether it’s a simple “you’ve got this” before a big meeting, or a comforting “I’ll wait up to hear all about it” after a long day away from home, your heartfelt words of support go a long way to making your significant other feel loved.
And never underestimate the power of reassuring words on a sticky note smoothed onto a mirror to help your honey start his or her morning with a little more confidence.
3. Stick Up for Your Better Half
When you look at the love of your life, you may not be able to imagine anyone who doesn’t see all of the same qualities in him or her that you see.
Nothing bursts this bubble faster than when someone you know disparages your spouse. This can be especially hurtful when the critic is a friend or relative.
If you want your marriage to thrive, take your cue from longtime, happily married couples who say that the success behind their union is based on their united front. Use your words to show that, no matter how others may criticize your spouse, you are on your spouse’s side.
You don’t have to be rude to your loved one’s critic. But you do have to verbally assert that you love and stand by your spouse, and will not accept anyone’s insulting words pointed in their direction.
This will mean the most to your spouse when they hear you sticking up for them. If that isn’t possible, then be sure to communicate to them how you came to their defense outside of their presence.
4. Thank Your Spouse for What They Do
In a perfect world, couples would go around thanking each other every time they did something to make the other’s life a little easier.
The “thank yous” would flow like water whenever one of you got up with the baby in the middle of the night, drove the kids to their sports meets, or brought home dinner for a surprise date night in.
In reality, it’s easy to fall into a daily routine of checking off boxes on your to-do list and forget to express gratitude for all that your spouse does to keep your household running smoothly. Yet, gratitude matters, and telling your spouse how thankful you are for all they do can go a long way in making them feel valued.
For some people who speak the Words of Affirmation love language, a blanket “thank you for everything you do,” will make their heart swell. For others, they’ll appreciate your attention to detail in highlighting the specific things they did that you’re grateful for.
What Does This Mean?
For many couples, expressing words of affirmation can mean the difference between an evening spent enjoying each other’s company or an evening spent trying to figure out what triggered your sweetheart’s cold shoulder.
When you take the time to build up your spouse with words that resonate most in his or her heart, you’ll be doing your part to improve communication between you and your beloved. You’ll also be bolstering your marital bond in a way that will help stand the test of time. God bless your union!
My recent experience at a major tech conference highlighted the vast difference between the ways of this world, the tendencies of the flesh, and the ways of God’s kingdom.
One of the things that has blessed and challenged me most in the last decade of church life is seeing brothers and sisters who are willing to give, and give, and keep giving, to build up the church.
In the world, folks are always thinking of the end of the shift, of when they can clock out; and I’ve noticed that attitude can creep into the church as well: there can be a subtle tendency to think in terms of enough, or “I’ve done my part.” And in my heart, I begin “hurrying away,” as the verse in Jeremiah above says.
We have heard of the tremendous difference between the minimum Christian, who thinks of “what’s the least I can do to be a member in good standing,” and the maximum Christian, who says, “what else can I do to show my gratitude to the Lord for all He’s done for me?”
Especially when the pressures of this life weigh upon me, I have found that it’s good to consider the verse above: “Am I hurrying away from the church, in my heart?”
Jesus Is Our Example of Not Hurrying Away
We find an illuminating incident in the life of the Lord, when He heard about His cousin being murdered in Matthew 14. At the very time of mourning, He is called upon to serve. And rather than hurry away from the crowds who ignored His grief, Jesus faithfully healed the many who interrupted his time of mourning (Matthew 14:13-14).
Understandably, given all they knew of the situation, the disciples were ready for a break.
“When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, ‘This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’” Matthew 14:15 NASB1995
They were ready to clock out! But Jesus wasn’t.
“But Jesus said to them, ‘They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!’” Matthew 14:16 NASB1995
It’s at this inconvenient time — when Jesus was serving amidst life’s challenges, when the disciples were ready to call it a day and hurry away — that we see one of the greatest miracles Jesus performed: the feeding of the five thousand.
Jesus Calls Disciples to Keep Working With Him
What’s remarkable is how deeply Jesus required the participation of His disciples in the miracle. They had to pass out food by hand to several thousand people! And then, even after the meal, the disciples had work to do:
“When the crowds were filled, Jesus told His disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.’” John 6:12
It challenged me to see that there’s no command to the crowd. They just got to enjoy the Lord’s bounty. The crowd may recline. Those only interested in healing and a meal may relax.
But Jesus calls His disciples to keep serving until the job is done.
Jesus Always Goes Above And Beyond
It’s easy to read this story and begin to think that the disciples were somehow disadvantaged or burdened by their service. Far from it! They were the ones with front row seats to His power and love!
And furthermore, lest we ever think that we are the ones working longest or hardest, may we never forget that Jesus works longest.
After challenging the disciples to “not hurry away,” and asking for them to work beyond the window of convenience, Jesus dismisses them from duty, but He keeps working:
“Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.” Matthew 14:22 NASB1995
Jesus, not the disciples, took responsibility for dispatching the crowd! Having just attended a large conference, I have renewed appreciation for this statement. I watched a lot of noteworthy presenters end their presentations only to be whisked away through a back door, never to be seen again or troubled by questions of the adoring crowd. One of the most generous of the famous speakers I observed did sign one book, “but this is the only one!” she said, even while she did it.
Crowds were regularly requested to remain seated until after the presenters left, so as to not inconvenience them, handlers working the crowd and helping them find exits.
Imagine how the scene must have been that day on the shores of Galilee. Approximately 15,000 people, who have not only been healed, but have also just been miraculously fed, surely didn’t disperse easily.
Jesus took that job Himself.
He did not employ handlers to do the job; not even His disciples. After asking much of them, Jesus is the One Who stuck around, who went above and beyond.
Jesus Christ is so completely opposite to what we see in this world.
“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles Lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’” Matthew 20:25-28 NASB1995
May the Lord enable us as disciples to follow His example of overflowing service, and give us strength by the power of the Holy Spirit to deny the worldly, fleshly tendency to “hurry away” from being poured out on behalf of His body.