My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA. I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.
During our last four articles, we learned of many of the ways God guides us – through commanding scripture, compelling spirit, dreams, visions, angels, common sense, godly counsel and circumstantial signs. I had so many stories to share; both ours and those of others. I am sure that you have a few stories to share of your own. I’d love to hear them via the comment box on our website, Http://www.coppleswestern cape.ca.
I was going to venture further into how to hear the voice of God, but I was interrupted by a prompting from Holy Spirit. It’s good to listen to what he wants to say – since it’s timely in a NOW sort of way. I am to share about growing in love.
Our Iris mama Heidi Baker is an apostle of love. Her husband Rolland is an apostle of joy. They often say “Love LOOKS like something.” That love includes noticing people and stopping to listen to them. It includes ministering to them with the love that the Holy Spirit fills you with for these moments. These moments are divine appointments, where God puts a person for Heidi, or us to bless; one by one. Heidi gives advice on how to start ministry in the Compelling Love movie, by sharing, “It’s not complicated, just stop for the one.” That love shared has a different flavour and package in each place, and each culture. Love is powerful and shows through your whole being – but love in action is very specific.
Love in the Worcester township of Avian Park looks different than it does in Camp’s Bay near Cape Town. Love in a First nations reserve in northern Ontario looks different than it would in downtown Toronto, or in Jo’burg. Love looks different with Robertson farm kids than with seniors from Hermanus. What are the needs around you? Do you feel compelled towards acts of service? That’s one love language that we’ll share about later.
Sometimes love looks like a hug and a listening ear – so the person no longer feels invisible, but rather valued, heard and seen. Sometimes love means a sandwich, fruit and juice to a hungry South African child. Do you notice that these ways of showing love are ACTIVE? They require action – which means to love is not to just sit there and feel sorry for people. That’s pity, not love.
As humans, we communicate by language – not just English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and more. Our words are only part of the story. Most communication happens non-verbally – and love is expressed here very strongly. We also speak in other ways than words and cues. These would be called orientations, or would be best known as “love languages.” These are personal ways that we best receive and give love. Everyone has at least one love language, and it is easy to love others within your own way of sharing.
Some people receive more in certain areas than others. If you’re married, find out your spouse’s love language. It may be different than yours. It’s definitely easier to love in your own language, but your spouse won’t really receive that love deeply. They won’t FEEL loved. If you really want your significant other to receive your love, love them the way they can receive it. Learn their love language. Gary Chapman wrote an excellent book on love languages that you can read, called “The Five Love Languages.”
Here are the five love languages: Number 1 is Words of Affirmation, which includes encouragement and the words “I love you.” Basically this is verbal encouragement. Number 2 is Acts of Service, which can include serving tea with a biscuit, fixing broken things, and so much more. Number 3 is Receiving Gifts. These could be chocolates, flowers, mementoes, box of tea or anything meaningful. It doesn’t have to be a big gift. Homemade love notes could be part of this gift. Number 4 is Quality Time spent together. This is an important way to receive love when you spend a lot of time ministering or serving others. You need time with each other. We especially need our quality time with God. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s one of Jesus’ love languages. He needed his time with the Father, and we also need time with him, even if we don’t realize it. When you create a space for quality time, you are creating a container that can be filled with all kinds of love. And the 5th love language is Physical Touch. This includes holding hands, hugs, kisses, and even just a touch on the shoulder. This form of love makes you feel grounded, IF you are not claustrophobically clingy. I find that the children we teach in MasterPeace Academy receive love by hugs and kisses on the cheek, as well as verbal encouragement. Unfortunately in Canadian schools, this is frowned upon, since some teachers in the past have abused their authority. How unfortunate for those who have been abused and those who desperately need a kind, loving, appropriate touch.
We shared about love languages with our My Father’s House teens, and surprisingly most of them said that one of their two love languages was quality time, although acts of service was also high on the list.
While these ways of sharing love are a blessing to both give and receive, each of us has two primary ways where we really receive and feel loved. Mine happens to be Acts of Service, where Tony might help me proofread a devotional, give input on ministry, or bring me a cup of tea). I also receive words of affirmation – being encouraged, as well as told that I am loved and appreciated. Tony’s major love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. We hold hands all the time, and when we sit together, he has his hand on my arm, shoulder or back. I know that while he appreciates quality time, acts of service and some gifts, he really feels satisfied when I encourage him and give him the touch he so needs.
I found a meme on Facebook that illustrated the five love languages in the form of Mexican burritos. This is a delicious food make of meat, vegetables, cheese and spice, wrapped in a soft corn tortilla.
Words of affirmation is shared as “This is a good burrito.” Acts of Service came across as “I made you a burrito.” Receiving Gifts is “Here’s a burrito.” Quality time was shown as “Let’s go out for burritos together.” And Physical touch was sweet on hugs, when it shared, “Let me hold you and wrap my arms around you like a burrito.” Can you imagine these languages acted out with your friends and family? Can you bless your spouse this way?
There are also different kinds of love, since there are different relationships. Most are shown in the Bible, such as the friendship between Jonathan and David, the loyalty between Ruth and Naomi, and especially the love of Jesus for all he encountered. Eros is romantic love, which was named after the Greek god of love and sexual desire. Eros is also called “Cupid,” a figure often shown on Valentine’s Day cards. Phileo is brotherly love, or friendship. The American city of Philadelphia was named as the city of brotherly love. Storge is family love, particularly the love a parent or guardian feels for their children. This is what Tony and I naturally feel for the children and teens that we work with. However, our love in action is steeped in far more than natural affection. Then there are less known loves such as ludus, or playful love; pragma or long-standing love, and philautia, love of self.
The deepest love is agape, the love of God. This is the only kind of love that is perfect. When God pours out his love, it transforms us. Listen to Romans 5:5 NIV: “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. His love empowers all the other loves we may feel and express. The agape love of God is active and can’t help but change our hearts for the better. He transforms us.
Since we are studying love, the best place to see it in action is in the famous ‘love chapter’: 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter is in between the stern warnings, pleadings and teachings of discipline in the midst of using spiritual gifts – in a loving, and unselfish way. Spiritual gifts are actually not for the benefit of ourselves, but of others both in the church and outside of it. Everything in our lives needs to be done in the CONTEXT of love. Love is personal, and it is relational. Most aspects of our lives are relational, whether in a work and business environment, family, friends, church, ministry and people we meet who have similar interests.
Close your eyes if it is safe to do so, as you listen to my voice. Then imagine yourself by substituting your name in the place of where Paul says love. You’ll see what I mean shortly.
Here’s 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. This sets up the stage for the chapter. “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
This shows love as the motivating force behind all we do. If perfect love is our motive, we do not fail. The next verses are where you personalize the scripture.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.” Laurie-Ann is patient and kind. Laurie-Ann is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude.
“Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and love keeps no record of being wronged.” Laurie-Ann does not demand her own way. Laurie-Ann is not irritable, and she keeps no record of being wronged.
“Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.” Laurie-Ann does not rejoice about injustice but she rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Laurie-Ann never gives up, never loses faith, she is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Wow. I feel convicted. Can you do this? Can I do this? NO, not even close. We can only express love that way when God’s love fills us completely. This is not just a once and a while filling of love. We need this love all the time, like living water flowing out of us. This means we need continually to drink of it and be in God’s presence as much as we can.
Here’s the rest of the chapter, which puts love as the foundation for everything in our lives: “Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
I’m so thankful that the apostle Paul wrote these words of wisdom. We can’t survive without love, and we were meant to live in love. Please take these words to heart and think about how you receive love best in your love language. Also learn the way that those around you best receive love.
But first, go receive the love of God for yourself. He loves you so. We are dry, thirsty vessels without the living water of love within us. That living water is the Holy Spirit. That is the same love that the Apostle Paul says is poured out in our hearts. In John 7:38, Jesus himself shouted to the crowds during a Jewish festival. He said, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” Jesus gives us this invitation too.
Lord, thank you for your invitation to receive living water from you. I say “Yes, please fill me. We are so thirsty, Lord.” I ask that you will soak the hearts of those listening, so that they receive your love – as much as they think they can receive, and yet more. Show us your love in the ways we need it most. Your love goes beyond the five love languages, but you also express yourself in those ways through your people. Help us to express your love to those around us. We can only do this with your love, Lord. Thank you for your love for us, the love that goes on and on. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you enjoyed this message, and would like to hear an audio version, visit the Ways to Grow in God podcast page at coppleswesterncape.ca (WTIGIG podcast page) then scroll down to #48. May this bless you.
If you are able and willing, and would like to contribute to L-A’s life-saving chemotherapy treatments (that she is receiving in Cape Town, South Africa), please visit the medical campaign page, on how you can give by Paypal or other methods. Thank you and may God deeply bless you.