Have you ever known someone whose natural mode of operation was to serve and help? They’re the kind of people whose love language is acts of service. Without thought of reciprocation, they are quick to lend a hand, fill a need, and give of themselves for others’ benefit. If you have people like in your life, then you know how golden those friendships are. Now let me ask you this: Have you ever known a couple in which both individuals seek first to give and serve and help? A couple like that would be able to “speak” the same love language to each other and also to others alongside each other in powerful ways. In a recent conversation with one such dynamic duo, I was not only impressed by the amount of good they’re able to accomplish in their spheres of influence, but I was also taken by surprise to discover a unique difficulty they’re slowly learning to navigate.
Difficulty? Can a giving couple like that experience any problems? It’s not really something you’d typically classify as a relational “problem,” but I’ll do my best to explain. Because both in the relationship are quick to give help, they are both relatively slow to receive help. Over the years, they’ve individually cultivated habits of service and sacrifice, but now that they’re together, they’re having to cultivate the habit of being served and sacrificed for. “Will you just let me love you?” is the common question they’re each learning to say “yes” to. And then in the most gentlemanly manner, my friend shared this insight: “The best thing she can give me in that kind of situation is to receive my help.”
Sometimes the best we can give is a willingness to receive.
Giving to the greatest giver
I believe our God “speaks” all five love languages with infinite intensity and fluency, but I would venture to say that His acts of service declare His love most compellingly. In the upper room just hours before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, Jesus looked around at His disciples and “loved them to the end” (Jn. 13:1). In what way? The narrative immediately follows by describing Jesus, the One who once sat on heaven’s throne, wrapping a servant’s towel around His waist to wash His disciples’ feet, even those of His eventual betrayer. He served and sacrificed, laid down not only His pride but ultimately His life. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (1 Jn. 3:16).
What could we possibly give to the great Giver? How could we possibly serve the suffering Servant? Of course, we can attempt to reciprocate, to give back, to offer our service. While those may be appropriate responses, I wonder if the psalmist can point us to what just might be the best response:
What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
When seriously inquiring about what he could give back to the Lord for all His benefits and blessings, the psalmist concludes that his best response is to take the cup of God’s salvation.
Could it be that the best we can give to the Lord is a willingness to receive His best for us?
David’s words resonate with Jesus’ words when He sheds light on what makes the Father’s heart beat with delight:
Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
According to Jesus, we can give great pleasure to the Father by letting Him give us the kingdom. It pains the heart of God to resist and refuse His gift of salvation and entrance into His kingdom, but it thrills His heart whenever we receive it. There “joy in heaven” and “in the presence of the angels” over repentant sinners (Lk. 15:7, 10) not just because of a goal accomplished or victory achieved but because God is pleased most when His giving is received by the least.
So let’s do it. Let’s give God the best gift we could possibly give today. May we daily, humbly, gratefully receive all the great Giver has given to us in Christ.