Hugs From Heaven

I love giving and receiving bear hugs at church. Of course I realize not everyone does, so if you’d rather have a hand shake that’s fine, and if you’d rather, a fist pump will do too, especially if you think you have a cold. If you would rather not touch at all, I am happy to just smile and wave at you. With my Christian sisters I accept sideways hugs, so as not to misconstrue the intent of the hug. Of course some of the old-fashioned elderly ladies have no concept of a sideways hug, and just give me a huge bear hug as though I was their son, and so I graciously just grin and “bear” their big bear hugs. I know their motives are pure.

Some people are afraid to hug or touch others, for fear of it being misinterpreted, and that is exactly what Satan wants! Satan knows how important appropriate hugs and touching are to one’s physical and emotional health. In Matthew 8:2-3 Jesus heals a man’s leprosy by saying “I will, be thou clean.” But He touched the man in order to heal his loneliness. Of course we should only touch people who want to be touched, and only the appropriate ways I already described.

Now in Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26 Paul says to greet each other with a “holy” or “sacred kiss,” depending upon the translation you use, but it all translates to a literal kiss. I am not suggesting we give literal kisses today, and would prefer a hug myself, but my point is that the Bible encourages appropriate touching beyond husband and wife. If you are not sure what appropriate touching means in your Christian culture, I strongly recommend, no, demand that you stick with just smiling and waving. Smiles cure loneliness too.

Do you know that the Holy Spirit likes to give big bear hugs too?

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. Luke 15:20 NKJV

This is one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible. The father, who represents our heavenly Father, ran out and fell on his son’s neck. Does that mean he tripped and fell on his neck? No, of course not! It means he gave his son a big bear hug. The phrase, “fell on” is an old English term for “bear hug.”

When Peter was speaking to the Gentiles, and the Holy Spirit “fell upon” them, we can see that as the Holy Spirit giving them a big bear hug!

Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. Acts 10:44 NLT

Again we see the phrase “fell upon” which does not mean tripping and falling, but actually giving a big bear hug! The Holy Spirit loves to give bear hugs! Let that sink in.  When God sends His Spirit, He’s not sending us power to do legalistic works in legalistic self righteousness. No! When God gives us the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit gives us a big bear hug, giving us all of heaven’s love so that our works and righteousness will be filled with God’s love!

I published an article a while back, about how I was praying one night that God would continue supporting my ministry so I could continue sharing His love with others. The following morning I went to my church community center, where an elderly lady from church gave me a big bear hug, and told me that God knew about all my needs and that He would continue supporting my ministry. It was as though she heard my conversation with God the night before. That is when I realized the bear hug she gave me was just as much from God, as the words of hope she shared.

Friend, as important as physical hugs are, you may have had some unfortunate experiences that prohibit you from giving hugs or receiving them. And when I say prohibit, I mean  you may even be legally prohibited because of a mistake you made in the past. God wants to restore and heal you. He wants to forgive and change your life, and if you are never able to physically hug another person on earth, please know the Holy Spirit’s hugs are real. Ask for the Holy Spirit and let God give you a big bear hug!

Posted in 2017a Holy Spirit and Spirituality, Feature Tagged , , permalink

About William Earnhardt

William Earnhardt has been a Bible Worker, literature evangelist and lay pastor in Oklahoma and Texas, before coming to the Tampa Bay area, where he has been a Bible instructor and lay pastor for the past 12 years. He has also held revivals and evangelism seminars, as well as soul winning workshops from Peru to Connecticut. You can find William's study guides and devotionals at


Hugs From Heaven — 9 Comments

  1. This is wonderful. Every time I get a bear hug from God's Holy Spirit it fills my heart with such incredible joy and often brings me to tears. Thank you God for your love! 🙂

  2. Thank you for this post. I'm a Trinidadian, now living in Toronto and a member of Smyrna. Our congregation is built on heavenly bear hugs. Young, middle aged, elderly, children - we hug each other every chance we get, even in the super market. Like you, I believe that these hugs are a gift from God. One, Sabbath, not too long ago, one of my very young friends (she's about 10 years old) gave me, what I term a lingering hug, straight from Jesus, and I felt her arms around me all week - what a gift! I'm old enough to be her grandmother and she spontaneously reached for me. One of the joys in belonging to the family of God!

  3. Appreciate your affirmation in your last paragraph to those who find themselves in this situation. I feel for those who have been "labeled" from a false accusation as well as those who made a
    "mistake" in the past.

  4. I love hugs. But coming from a culture that does not really hug i sometimes freeze just before the hug, but what i get after the hug is still phenomenal. Thank you.

  5. William,

    It's amazing the range of topics you can write about! This is yet another gem. I am grateful for the insights God gives you to share with us!

    You wrote: "Some people are afraid to hug or touch others, it may be misinterpreted."

    Lack of expressing affection may not be connected to being misinterpreted and may be from a problem in the background of the person. Many people are not brought up in a loving, caring home with hugs and affection expressed. We had a family of 10 people, with lots of relatives, and hugs were not common until I was older, somewhere in my 20's. My parents grew up with no love expressed including affection and hugs and didn't know how to give it to their children and this is in America!

    God loves us with an everlasting love, yet He wants His love shown through His people by loving everyone. Lots of people are hurting big time today and yet we Christians don't know how to love one another because we are often carrying much pain inside. We can't give, care, or give hugs because we are bound up in ourselves. So we preach about caring and loving but can't give the example of loving even those closet to us.

    I am not sure what you mean about "some unfortunate experiences that prohibit you from giving hugs or receiving them...even be legally prohibited because of a mistake you made in the past"?

    I do agree that God wants to restore and heal every one of us hurting people. Many of us rely on God's love and as you have expressed it, "Holy Spirit’s hugs". It is something of great value! Thank you for the post!

  6. One of the issues that I face currently is that hugging and effusive greeting has suddenly become an orchestrated part of the worship service. I am not a naturally "huggy" effusive person, but I will happily hug someone if they show signs of really needing a hug. And I appreciate hugs and other physical shows of concern when I need emotional support as well. But the hugging that occurs when the minister or whoever says in the welcome, "OK folk move around and make everyone feel welcome at church today!" makes me cringe into my little shell of solitude. If only someone could tell them that orchestrated hugs do not count in the great scheme of things. Hugs meaningfully but spontaneously given when the need is great are important but orchestrated hugging is just a bit of a show.


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