Tuesday, February 05, 2008

LOVE LANGUAGE

There's a great book called "Love Languages" by Gary Chapman, PHD which I highly recommend for anyone in a committed, romantic relationship or marriage.

In the book, Dr. Chapman identifies five known "Love Languages" that each of us respond to and "speak". The five languages are:

1) Words of affirmation
2) Quality time
3) Gifts
4) Acts of service
5) Physical touch.

Each of us can probably look over this list and identify at least one, maybe two areas where we feel most loved when on the receiving end of these languages.

For me it is Words of Affirmation and Gifts.

The problem is that if your primary love language is "Gifts" the chances are great that this is how you will express love to someone. However, if that person's love language is "Physical touch" or "Acts of Service" you'll be wasting your time.

This causes a lot of unnecessary frustration in marriages especially where the man can knock himself out with acts of service to his wife (doing the dishes, dusting the living room, keeping the yard clean, etc.) and yet in her mind he doesn't love her because he doesn't say "You're so beautiful" or "You make me happy".

Understanding your own love language is very important, and making sure that you discover your spouses love language is even more important. There's nothing worse than going through life thinking you've expresed your love for someone, only to discover that they aren't getting the message because you're not saying it in a way that they can understand.

GOD'S LOVE LANGUAGE?
Did you know that God has a love language too? He does. The scriptures are full of direct quotes from God where He specifically tells us what it means to love Him.

Do you want to know what God's love language is? Do you want to make sure that you're expressing your love to God in the best way possible; in the exact way that He has revealed to us?

Some of us think that singing songs to God for hours and hours will express our love for Him. Certainly it's not a bad thing to do that, but God is pretty clear that all that singing isn't really what He's looking for.

"Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps." -Amos 5:23

In this verse, God makes it clear that singing, by itself isn't enough. He goes on to call for His people to show compassion to the poor around them and to work for justice to rescue the oppressed in their community.

"But let justice roll on like a river; righteousness like a never-failing stream" - Amos 5:24

Jesus makes it clear that, if we love Him, we will obey His teachings.

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching...he who does not love me will not obey my teaching." – JESUS (John 14:23-24)

Jesus also made it clear that when we show love to the poor, the outcast, the weak, the broken, the forgotten, the lonely of this world, we are expressing our love for Him at the same time.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." - Matthew 25:40

God has revealed to us that the best way to show Him that we love Him is to love others.

LOVE IS THE GREATEST
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-40)

Jesus makes it clear that loving God and loving our neighbor are connected. Notice how he says, "And the second is like it". This means that if you do one (Love God) you will naturally do the other (Love your neighbor)...and if you love your neighbor you are pleasing God by obeying Him and putting into practice the very thing that He says makes it known that you really love Him.

"If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."
- 1 John 4:20-21

However, if Jesus boils down the Ten Commandments into just two commands, we are still faced with the reality that if we are powerless to keep the Ten, we are just as powerless to keep the Two.

LOVE IMPOSSIBLE
Keeping the Law is impossible for me, as someone who was born with a sinful nature (read the book of Romans for Paul's amazing thesis about this). This means that keeping the Law is something I can only hope to accomplish if I am transformed by God into a "new creature".

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" - (2 Cor 5:17)

The only hope we have to keep the Law is to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us from within into the sort of people who are capable of keeping the Law. The only hope we have to ever become like Jesus is to die, like He did, upon a cross which declares that we surrender our lives in order to receive a new life that is "others-focused" and marked by sacrificial love.

BECOME A GOOD TREE
Jesus tells us that the only way for a tree to produce good fruit is to be that kind of tree. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.(Matthew 7:17-18) For us, as sinful creatures trying to love as Jesus loves we soon discover that it's as impossible as making our Pecan tree produce Grapefruit. It just won't work.

Paul makes it clear (in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13) that Love is a spiritual gift from God. Unless God gives us the supernatural gift of Love, we cannot try hard enough on our own to produce it.

So, let us learn to practice the language of love that God has revealed to us as being Divine. To do this, we must daily surrender our lives to God and lean upon Him for strength, for hope, and especially, for love.

"Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:27)

-kg

1 comment:

Paul Virtue said...

I have found the book to be very beneficial. I do have one note of warning some have used it selfishly to demand that their spouse or friends adapt the love language that they prefer. That of course misses the whole point. I need to look to know the love language of those in my life and lovingly serve them by using the language that best shows them love.