Anyone who’s spent any amount of time in the Word or in a church setting has heard that God tells us to love one another. There are numerous scriptures where we are led to this:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.- John 13: 34, NIV
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins- 1 Peter 4:8, NIV
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.- Romans 13:8, NIV
Let’s take a look at the “how” in how to love our neighbor. Did you know that everyone prefers to be loved and shown love in different ways? If not, let us introduce you to the 5 Love Languages.
The 5 Love Languages is a famous book written by Gary Chapman. In sum, this book introduces us to the idea that we all best receive love in different ways- 5 ways as described by the author. These are Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Gifts, and Words of Affirmation.
So why is this important? Why are we talking about this?
Surely you’ve heard the phrase “treat others the way you want to be treated”- well there is a new phrase we’d like to introduce and it’s “treat others the way they want to be treated”. This small change shows that the needs of the other person are important to us. Also that our own way of showing love and affection might not be the way someone wants to receive love and affection.
You have been dating a woman for over 1 year and things are going great. You love taking her out to the nicest restaurants and even surprised her with a new Rolex for Christmas. You love showing her your affection with the best that life has to offer. However, a few weeks go by and she says she wants to end the relationship. You can’t think of what you’ve done wrong, all you’ve done is poured so much love into her. When you asked her she says “I just don’t know how you truly feel about me. You never tell me you love me, or that I’m beautiful, or that you care for me.” In your head you’re confused because of course you love her. Why else would you spend so much time and money on her. But her true love language seems to be words of affirmation which has been lacking in your relationship.
Your son just turned 4 and you’ve noticed they’re not loving their normal bedtime routine. Since they were young, every night you would come in and hug and kiss them good night. Now they seem to pull away from your hugs and kisses and this action offends you. What’s changed? Why won’t they accept my hugs? So you insist on hugging them and kissing them. Since they’re young they are not able to put into words that it makes them uncomfortable and would rather you read them a story or sing to them while being by their side. They continue to pull away and as they grow older they feel they lack the proper love and affection from you. All because their true love language wasn’t properly identified and taken into account.
How we love those around us is important. This applies to significant others, our children, our employees, our friends, and more. Taking the time to ask someone what their love language is, shows that we are invested in appreciating them in the way they see fit. Below we’ve included some of our favorite ways of loving your neighbor with their Love Language in mind.
Acts of Service
Serving on an Usher Board, cooking a dish for the cookout, cleaning off someone’s windshield in winter, saving them a parking spot, washing the dishes for them.
Words of Affirmation
Offering to pray for someone, uplifting someone with a hand written note, congratulating someone on a promotion/accomplishment, a FB shoutout that highlights their hard work.
Greeting someone with a long hug, holding hands while praying, rubbing their backs when they are stressed out, cuddling before bed.
Asking someone to come to church with you, scheduling a coffee chat, movie nights, giving someone your undivided attention, studying together.
Buying them a coffee before work, getting them a new bible, remembering their favorite food and surprising them with it, picking up a small item that reminds you of them, surprising them with an item they’ve been wanting for a while.
Discovering our own love languages as well as that of those around us can take our appreciation for a person to the next level. Curious to find out your love language? You can take a quiz here! Be sure to share your results in the comments!