Construction workers arm themselves with a tool belt on the worksite.
Women arm themselves with a purse for their “worksite” (also known as SHOPPING!).
When ministering to women all over the world, I carry a bag as well. It’s an invisible bag full of ministry tools. Over the past two years, I’ve been working hard to fill this bag with “instruments” I can use in the different environments and cultures I step into. I’ve taken different trainings, read books and listened, all with purpose of filling this ministry bag I carry, so I might better serve the women God brings across my path.
All of these tools are valuable, but I’ve discovered in this past season of travel, that it’s not the trainings or the books that are my greatest tool.
The greatest thing I carry is Love . Real. Genuine. Present. Love .
Stepping into different cultures, is often a lot like walking blindfolded in your home when the furniture has been moved. You’re constantly bumping into things and having to adjust your perspective. You never quite know, if what you’re going to say or do, will be offensive to those around you.
But LOVE covers a multitude of sins . . . I have found that if you genuinely love the people you are with, if you are present and attentive than the offensive things you might do or say are easily overlooked because they know you sincerely love them.
Because LOVE does what nothing else can do . . . it transcends cultures and crosses the barrier of languages!
Paul speaks of this kind of love in 1 Corinthians 13 . . . 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 have watched contemporary counterparts attempting to learn about other people’s cultures but in their effort to understand they have forgotten to love. Without love, we become clanging cymbals. It jars the ears of listeners and pushes away those, we have come to serve.
Love is more than just trying to understand another’s culture. Love says, “I value you. I want to know you. I respect your differences and I want to understand who you are. You are important.”
After reflecting on the kind of love Paul is speaking about, I wrote what this looks like in my own context . . .
If I could speak the language of each country I visited and yet didn’t love them, I would just be another loud obnoxious American. If I could discern the feelings of others and was able to explain God’s Word for all to understand and if I had a faith that could do the impossible but didn’t love others, I would accomplish nothing. If I traveled to the ends of the earth, sacrificed time with family and my own comfort but didn’t have love for others, it would all be for nothing.
Even though I only speak one earthly language, English. I speak another more important language . . . the language of love. A language everyone, everywhere understands. It requires no special translator, no detailed explanation, no unique skill, just a heart that genuinely loves without expecting anything in return.
And what God can do when we love like He loves us – well the possibilities are endless!
Spilling His Grace,