Today I wanted to follow up on my previous post about extravagant love because I felt like I could make it a little more practical and less nebulous. In that post I was writing about how God craves from us the extravagant kind of love like Mary Magdalene showed when she anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive ointment—the kind of love that goes way above and beyond what is expected or necessary. I had asked what ways we can show that kind of extravagant love to God and someone commented that we could show God love by obeying Him. I agree, and I think that’s a great start; but I also think that there are also many other practical ways that we can more abundantly express our love for God.
You may or may not be familiar with the Five Love Languages written by Gary Chapman. The five love languages are different ways that we show and receive love from other people, and I think it’s a solid place to start when thinking of practical ways to express your love for God. So I’m going to share some examples from each of the five different love languages to help give you some ideas of ways to give back extravagant love to God.
Acts of Service
This expression of love can take on many forms; it could be shown by participating in your church work bee to help keep God’s sanctuary beautiful and clean, going on mission trips, giving Bible studies, or by something as simple as helping an elderly neighbor rake their leaves or go grocery shopping. Remember, in Matthew 25, Jesus said that at the final judgment God will say to his faithful followers, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (verse 40, ESV). When you do kind things for other people, it is a sweet offering to God. I have also thought about how God admonishes his people throughout the Bible to take care of the widows and orphans; I think this was meant literally, but also as a principle. Widows and orphans in Bible times were often unable to provide a living for themselves, so any time we are able to help someone who is unable to provide for their own needs, we are in essence taking care of the “widows and orphans” of our society.
The most obvious way that we can give gifts to God is by donating money to our local churches, to mission projects, or to people who are homeless or in need. But another type of gift giving can be gifts of special music at your church, or singing at a nursing home. We often think of gifts as money or physical things, but any way that you can use the talents and special abilities that God has given you for His service, that is like giving a gift to God. This kind of goes hand in hand with acts of service.
This too, seems obvious; we show God love by spending time reading our Bibles and praying to Him. However, I think we can show a deeper love for God by not only reading our Bibles and praying, but also by giving God the best of our time. So maybe for someone this could look like making time earlier in the evening to pray to God so that they are not falling asleep during their prayers. Or perhaps it might mean going to bed earlier so that you are well rested and alert during your morning devotions. The general principle is not just setting aside time for God, but giving Him priority in your time, giving him quality time.
Now, I admit, this one is difficult for me to figure out in relation to God. We cannot physically touch God or hold His hand. But something about physical contact with loved ones that makes me feel loved is just the fact that I can feel them present and close to me. So following that principle, some ways we can show physical love to God is by being 100% present mentally and physically when we are spending time with God—either at church, or in our personal devotions and prayer time. Also, in the Bible Paul says that our bodies are the temples of God, so keeping ourselves in good physical health by eating well and exercising is another way to show physical love for God.
Words of Affirmation
This is something I think I often neglect. And the easiest way to do it is simply by thanking God for the blessings in your life, thanking and praising Him for the ways He has revealed Himself to you, and acknowledging in our prayers His power, majesty, and worthiness of our worship and adoration. Some ways you may not have considered before might include writing love notes to God (just like you might to your spouse), praying Psalms of praise and thanksgiving out loud to God, or sharing with other people the great things that God has done in your life.