Tuesday, March 27, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: The Language of Love

Ground Zero Cross

Though we have put the Proverbs 31 woman to rest, her legacy of love lives on. I Corinthians 13 describes the uniqueness of a life well lived for Christ, which is a life of love*.

"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."

~I Corinthians 13:1

Have you tried to communicate with someone of another language? It's not an easy thing to do! Words are not enough. You use your body to try to express what you want to say. Your hands, facial expressions. You may even draw a picture. You do anything to bridge the gap.

Limited to the English language, I know this frustration. In November, 2011, God sent me to New York City to minister to victims of the World Trade Center disaster. I was given an assignment I would never have imagined: to train volunteers to counsel, pray, and share Christ with lives uprooted by this horrific event. In the two weeks, over 2,000 hurting hearts came through our doors looking for hope, in need of healing. People from more countries than I can list. Some knew English. Some knew some English. Some knew no English.  Language was a barrier. Like a great hurdler, love leaped over!

One man shared his grief over the loss of more than 70 friends, co-workers, family; and the distress as to "Why not me?" We were there to share a greater plan of salvation. The numbers saved in the The Lambs Church of the Nazarene on Times Square did not equal the lives that were lost in the World Trade Center. But my guess-timate is that hundreds, perhaps 1,000 accepted the love and life of Jesus Christ in our makeshift counseling center.

I remember a man from China, so excited to be introduced to Jesus Christ. He could not wait to go home to invite his wife and children to know Him also. I remember a family of six from Kenya, standing in a circle, hand in hand, repeating the prayer of salvation together. Their voices rang like a beautiful chorus of worship through that room!

This is what I remember most: when words were not enough, prayer bridged the love and the language gap. When I did not have the words to say, when I could not speak their language, I stopped and prayed. God broke through. Tears of surrender filled their eyes. They gave their hearts to Jesus.

At Easter, my husband and I were there to organize a second outreach. People I met at Christmas returned with joy. Several said that when we prayed, they felt it in their hearts.  Words could not communicate God's love. Prayer did.  Prayer is the language of love.

This first verse of chapter thirteen speaks a language of its own. I hear the sound of clanging symbols. It's just noise...annoying to our ears! We are bombarded with words, words, words. Words have almost become meaningless, resounding gongs. Our ears are word-worn!

As a lover of words, a writer and word-crafter, I choose my words carefully. As a woman of God, we must all be careful with our words. If you want to speak the language of love, here are some things to consider:
  • Do you say you are going to do something, then don't? Your words are clanging symbols!
  • Do you complain and speak negatively of the church, of your life, of others? Resounding gong!
  • Do you tell people you are going to pray for them, then don't? Empty promises!
  • Don't say you will pray if you know you cannot commit to it. If they don't get the results of prayer, they will think prayer doesn't work.
  • Pray for them in person.
  • Write a note that can be read and re-read; words that penetrate the heart instead of overloading the ears.
  • Think before you speak. Make sure the words about to spill from your mouth will reflect the love of Christ.
*"Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us...(Ephesians 5:1-2)."

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