Written by Dawn Rutan
I was reminded last week of the decades-long discussion of the “Five Love Languages” as outlined by Gary Chapman—words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch—reminding us that we don’t always “hear” love in the way that others may choose to express it. Charles Stanley has a similar list of “Ten Terms for Effective Service” in his recent book Emotions, and I think it’s worth sharing this extended quote as reminders of ways we can show love to one another (plus this just happens to go along with Sunday’s sermon):
Tell people what you admire and appreciate about them—they need to hear it. In fact, many of the individuals you know may be under terrible pressure and emotional distress and need the encouragement. So remind them of God’s love and provision, and convey your concern for their well-being.
You may come into contact with people who are anxious for someone to lend them a hand. Don’t turn them away. Often what is needed is a caring hug or a simple act of service. Help them in the name of Jesus (Matt. 5:41-42).
You know how hard it is to change your thinking when your emotions are out of control. It may take a long time to get through to some people with the truth of God’s Word. But instead of giving up, continue to pray for them faithfully. You’ll see it is absolutely worth it when they finally embrace His love and follow Him in obedience.
The truth is, you will find that some individuals are challenging to minister to—their emotional bondage is incredibly deep and their defenses are extremely difficult to overcome. Ask the Father to fill you with His love for them and help you to understand their burdens. Ask Him to fill your heart with gratefulness, then thank Him for the opportunity to encourage that hurting soul.
When was the last time you gave freely to another person simply because you cared? Remember, God blesses us so that we might bless others. Keep your eyes open for ways to show people His provision through sacrificial giving and express your affection to them with all generosity (1 Tim. 6:18).
Now that you know the warning signs of fear, rejection, bitterness, guilt, and despair; be sensitive to other people’s emotions and pay careful attention to what they tell you. Many people have come to know Jesus as their Savior because a friend took the time to listen to them and genuinely care about their concerns.
When you begin to feel angry or resentful toward the people the Lord has called you to encourage, remember how many times God has forgiven you. Always show compassion. You may not be able to control how others treat you, but you can choose to respond to them in a manner that honors the Father.
When you are dedicated to someone, you support and defend them when they face adversity and their emotions are especially raw. You don’t abandon them when challenges or problems arise. Therefore, stand by others in their time of need. They will appreciate your loyalty, and your friendship will go a long way in helping them heal.
Be sure to stay positive and remind others of all the Lord’s promises to them—especially when their emotions are out of control or particularly negative. Through Christ, there is always hope, regardless of the circumstances. Do your best to help others cling to that truth whenever they go through trials or experience suffering.
Nothing blesses a person more than when you walk in the center of God’s will and allow Him to work through you. Therefore, always make your relationship with the Father your first priority. He will guide you in how to best minister to and bless those around you. (pp. 283-286)
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” -1 John 4:7