Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.
-- Deuteronomy 16:17
What's your love language?
According to relationship expert and counselor Gary Chapman, husbands and wives demonstrate their love for each another in distinct ways. Some show it through words of affirmation or acts of service while others speak it through physical touch or quality time. Not surprisingly, another popular marital love language involves giving or receiving gifts. And that's something to consider as we wait in line at the checkout counter this Christmas season.
God also reveals His love in several ways. Think about the famous Bible story about the Prodigal Son, where the loving father welcomes back his wayward--and totally undeserving--child with open arms. Or what about the shepherd who searches tirelessly for a single missing sheep? When he finally finds it, he returns it triumphantly to the rest of the flock. These are vivid illustrations of God's immense love for you and me.
Jesus also paints this remarkable word-portrait of love, which the agrarian people of His day would have recognized immediately:
"I am the good shepherd," Christ tells us though the Gospel of John."The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
Jesus also told His disciples about a man who sold his possessions to buy a field. And not just any field, but one that held buried treasure. The purchase price was staggering. Nevertheless, the man did whatever it took to gain the prize.
And that's how God loves us. He'll go to any length to bring you and me into His family. Perhaps the most famous passage in the New Testament, John 3:16, tells us that God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son (Jesus) so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. God willingly let Jesus suffer and die to pay for all of our wrongdoings: past, present and future. We rightfully deserve death because of how we've lived our lives and treated our fellow man. But God's love offers us joy and happiness--if we're only willing to accept it. By living on Earth among everyday people and then dying for our sins, Jesus essentially presented his American Express Gold Card to pay the tab for everyone.
How should Christ-followers respond to his remarkable gesture of grace? Although we can never repay God, our Creator wants us to demonstrate our love through sincere, tangible actions. And we can do so in many ways--from helping an elderly neighbor get groceries to revealing God's light through a prison ministry. It could also translate into changing a co-worker's life by showing him or her how Jesus has changed our own. The possibilities and potential of this eternal love language are endless.
The limits of human language prevent us from fully describing how much God cherishes us through his lavish gifts. But maybe it's really not so difficult. After all, it takes only three simple words from the Book of 1 John to sum up the Creator's love language: