See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1 NIV)
For some time now, I’ve been crazy about the word lavish—a juicy word that conjures up images of abundance, extravagance, and generosity. Something about it appeals to the dramatic in me, and my eyes light up every time I hear it.
My friend Patti and I share this love of the word lavish, and we try to work it into conversation often. Because she’s become a grandmother repeatedly over the last few years, we’ve decided lavishly is the perfect way to describe the way grandmothers love their grandbabies.
When I listen to Patti talk about her grandbabies, I remember my favorite grandmother, who always lavished me with love. She’s in heaven now, but a favorite photo of the two of us always makes me smile. In the photo, we’re in my garden and I’m pregnant with my firstborn. Grandma is laughing, her arm around me and her hand on my swollen belly, clearly delighted to be with me and her soon-to-be great-grandbaby. She is obviously crazy about me, little Alex, and my beautiful, lavishly blooming hydrangea bush in the background.
Apparently, this is the way God feels about us as well. He lavishes us with his extravagant love simply because he delights in us and wants to make us his own precious children. The only reasonable response is gratitude and extravagant, abundant gift-giving in return.
We get to give love lavishly too! And everyone has a gift to give because the Father has already been so lavish in his gift-giving. God has abundantly poured out all that we need to take care of one another: individual talents, passions, experiences, time, resources, interests, and a capacity to love. We each get a gift, and then we get to give it away—like an enormous white elephant gift exchange, except all the gifts are perfect and desirable because they originally came from God, who gives only good gifts.
But here’s the catch: this gift exchange works only if we each gratefully acknowledge the gifts we’ve been given. If we deny our giftedness, or decide we would rather have our sister’s gift, or selfishly cling to our Precious gift like Gollum in The Hobbit, then the gift is wasted. God expects us to share our gifts with our hurting, broken world. The magic, the healing, is in the brave sharing.
What’s your gift? How are you called to love the world? Are you a detail person, great at organizing? Do you sing, paint, or write? Do you have a passion for the poor, like Jesus does? Do you have a home and the gift of hospitality? Are you a wonderful listener who has been through unimaginable despair and come out on the other side still able to experience joy?
How are you going to lavishly give your gift away?
Abba Father, we thank you for your lavish love! We are so grateful for the ways you love us and let us participate in the work you’re doing in the world. Give us your eyes to see and your ears to listen. Help us to pour out the lavish love you’ve given us to a hurting world desperately in need of that love. Remind us that we already have everything we need to be agents of love to the people around us. Make us brave, and teach us to love lavishly, like you. Amen.
Scripture for Reflection
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. (Ephesians 1:3–6 MSG)
Reach for More
This week’s challenge is to look for opportunities to love more lavishly. Find unique ways to be generous, maybe even extravagant, in a way you haven’t before. Whether right in your own home or in your larger community, live as one who is loved deeply, and be creative about new ways to show up as an agent of that love.
Please come back and leave a comment telling us about the impact your attempts to love more lavishly had on you and those around you, about how God spoke to you this week, or to share your progress on social media using the hashtag #tgtreachformore. We would love to hear from you.
Photograph © Jon Tyson, used with permission