Which of the statements below hits home for you?
1) “Ohh it’s nice but why did you waste so much of money?”…
2) “You are so ungrateful, can’t you see how much I’m trying to help?!”…
3) “Why can’t you just hold me? That would make me feel better”…
4) “What’s so great about pouring out your heart on a greeting card?”
5) “But it’s so boring for me to come fishing with you”
Like me, I’m sure you have been on both sides of the coin (accusing and being accused) and able to relate to the ring of these statements. We aren’t easy to please and we expect “too much” from the other. Unfortunately, what starts out as an act of love often sparks a verbal discussion – a heated up one for that matter. We try to show love to the other in our own language. Imagine if I was to show affection in my mother tongue to those of you who don’t understand Tamil! Yup, it would all be Greek to you. As ironic as it sounds, that’s what most of us do – we use languages that are ‘foreign’ to the other.
According to Gary Chapman, there are FIVE love languages, namely: words, touch, quality time, gifts and help. Adults tend to have primary love languages that are dominant comparatively to the rest. In fact the other love languages may not be perceived as showing love, but rather as a waste of resources. Some express their love primarily through words – letters, poems, cards etc. These people feel they are loved when they receive likewise. Some strive on touch – a hug when they are low or an affirmative pat on the back etc. Yet some others need quality time – just to sit in silence together or to do your own thing while being near to the loved one. Spending time together is what is important to them.
In scenario 1, the primary love language of the giver was gifts while not the case for the recipient. Likewise the love language in the second scenario is help – a language not shared by both parties. Scenario 3 is a typical cry of one whose primary language is touch while the giver in the 4th scenario speaks the language of words (written). The response of a person who doesn’t treasure time as a language is echoed in scenario 5.
We are often unable to ‘appreciate’ what is being done for us because it’s not our love language, so we don’t comprehend what it means to the other. It is vital to try to find out the love language of the recipient if we want to express love in a meaningful manner. Having said that, we need to be mindful of what Scripture teaches us too…
“Greet one another with a holy kiss” is a recurring phrase in the Bible (Romans 15:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26, 1 Peter 5:14). Jesus told Simon, “You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet” (Luke 7:42). All who touched Jesus were healed (Matthew 14:36). A few of the many other references of touch in healing are Matthew 8:3, 9:20, 14:26, 17:7, 20:34; Acts 19:12, etc. In fact it is medically proven that touch is a great asset for one’s health.
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up” (Proverbs 12:18). The author of Ecclesiastes writes that there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain (3:5) and also a time to be silent and a time to speak (3:7). Proverbs warns us that even words spoken with love have a time and a place, “If a man loudly blesses his neighbour early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse” (27:14). The author of Hebrews pens, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (3:13). Yet, on the other hand John urges us, “let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). James also challenges us, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:15-17).
The letters in the Bible spell out numerous ways to love one another. Read the following list adding ‘one another’ at the end of each item – be devoted to, honour, live in harmony with, accept, serve, bear with, be kind and compassionate to, submit to, forgive, admonish, encourage, offer hospitality to, have fellowship with and clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. These are not options given to us but rather commandments.
Words are important but there is a time for it and we shouldn’t stop with just that. Yes, it is a love language but as followers of Christ, we are commanded to accompany our words with deeds and in truth. Words, time, gifts, help, touch are all a part of our Christian walk. Understanding these languages and cultivating them will help us express our love for one another in meaningful ways. However, we should learn to develop all the languages listed and go beyond too! This can be done only by surrendering our hearts to God and letting His love fill us and then flow through us. The more we are rooted in our relationship with God, the more we are able to reach out and love the other as we realise we are all one body – the Body of Christ!
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
- Have you identified your primary love language(s)? What is it or what are they?
- Which language do you simply not understand? Which languages need more conscious effort?
- Which “one another” action(s) do you lack?
- Are there any people in your life that you love easily or even perhaps more than others?
- Are there any people that you would rather not obey God’s Word in ways recorded to love one another?
- Who do you give special treatment to and thus risk the sin of idolatry?
The ‘one another’ statements are for ALL alike – whether they are your pastors, spiritual leaders, caretakers, housemaids, enemies etc. Remember not obeying what God tells you to do is sin.
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart” – 1 Peter 1:22