Over the last couple of weeks we have been studying Biblical love from I Corinthians 13. Paul lists the properties of love in verses 4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, (5) does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, (6) does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; (7) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” What we learn is that agape or Biblical love is active, not passive; it is controlled, not unbridled; it is other-directed, not selfish; it is universal, not just for a select few; it is not necessarily emotional, but an act of the will; it takes risks with others; and it initiates the action.
Now as we come to February, the love month, how do we practice Biblical love in relationships? How do we make others feel loved? Unfortunately, how we show love is not always interpreted as love by someone else, because we are all different and show love in different ways. Gary Chapman in his book “The Five Love Languages” helps people see how we express and receive love is based upon what comes naturally to us- what makes us feel loved.
Chapman has observed that people give and receive love in five ways:
1. Words of affirmation- It simply means making statements that show you value your spouse. They can be statements that are either spoken or written. Statements such as, “You look nice today.” “I love you.” “Thanks for taking out the trash.”
2. Giving and receiving gifts- People say, “It is the thought that counts.” But it’s not just the thought in your head that counts, it what you do with the thought-the gift that comes out of the thought. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that shows your spouse you had him or her in mind when you selected the gift.
3. Acts of service- This involves doing anything you know your spouse would like you to do. It could be cooking a meal, washing the dishes, vacuuming the floors, or putting gas in the car.
4. Quality time- This is giving your spouse your undivided attention for a period of time. It could be sitting on the couch together, talking, going out to eat, or taking a walk.
5. Physical touch- This refers to touches, hugs, backrubs, holding hands, kissing, etc.
Now the problem comes when someone with love language # 1 dates someone whose love language is # 4, or a # 3 marries a # 5. When you get involved or marry someone who has a love language that is different than yours (and most of us do), there is the potential danger of misunderstanding, conflict, and unmet needs. For example, someone with the love language of words of affirmation expresses their love through words and looks for love through words. If they marry a gift giver, then they will be looking for words of affirmation, but the natural expression for the spouse is to give gifts. The result is usually someone feeling unloved. The key is to recognize your love language (how you feel and desire to be loved) and learn your spouse’s love language (how they feel and desire to be loved).
Since February is the month of love, let’s make this practical. As you learn about your spouse’s love language, try to demonstrate love to your spouse by their love language. It might be strange and awkward for you at first, but give it a try. If you don’t know how, get help from others as to how to express that type of love in different ways. Trying to love your spouse by their language is like learning a foreign language; it will take time. But for the sake of your spouse and your love relationship, it is important that you try, try again, and keep on trying.
So do something special for Valentine’s Day. Learn your spouse’s love language and give their gift of love!
-Pastor Mike Kotrla