By Jeff Dominguez
Have you ever heard of the term, “Love Language?”
This term was introduced by Dr. Gary Chapman, a well renowned author and marriage counselor. In the most basic sense, love language describes how a person perceives and express love. In another way to describe it, love language is like the methodology of how a person loves and feels loved. Love is such an abstract concept and obviously, because of our individualities, we all have our ways in expressing love.
Dr. Chapman discovered this concept from his years of service as a marriage counselor. According to him, he noticed that the most common cause of conflicts between married couples is misunderstanding about love. He always hear the complaint, “I feel like he doesn’t love me anymore.” After this, the spouse would argue that he does and he’s doing everything that he can. This is when Dr. Chapman realized the right question: when someone says he or she doesn’t feel loved, what exactly do they want others to do? This led Dr. Chapman to the discovery that every individual has their own “love language.” A person can’t perceive love if isn’t expressed through his or her love language. In this case for example, even if the husband truly loves his wife, she won’t feel that love unless he expresses it through her love language. So as you can see, knowing what our love languages are is very important. It helps us determine what we exactly need to do to express our love for others effectively.
In his book, The 5 Love Languages, Dr. Chapman revealed that there are five major love languages. These are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
Let’s discuss these briefly (in no particular order).
The first love language is words of affirmation. In this love language, a person perceives and expresses love through kind words. It can be a compliment, praise, encouragement, or appreciation. Because of the nature of this love language, this kind of person often demands consistent quality communications.
The next one is quality time. People with this kind of love language feels loved when you spend quality time with them. This is actually sweet for all they want is to be with you. If you are with someone like this, you must keep in mind that they are specifically demanding for quality, not quantity. The time you spend with them won’t count as an act of love if you don’t really invest your heart and presence for them. This implies giving them your full and undivided attention.
Next is physical touch. A person with this kind of love language desires physical expressions of love like holding their hands, giving them a hug, a kiss, and yes, including sex. But it doesn’t always have to be like that. For them, a simple massage or even just being physically close already counts as an expression of love.
The fourth one is acts of service. In my opinion, people who has this love language are the easiest to express love to. Just as the name suggests, they feel loved when others serve them. They appreciate it when people take care of them or do nice things for them. And here is the best part, even the little acts of service counts for them. Serving these people doesn’t have to be grand. I particularly know someone who already felt so loved when another person opened the door for her.
And last is receiving gifts. People who has this love language sees gift-giving as an expression of love. To clarify, it doesn’t mean that these people are materialistic. What they truly appreciate is the effort, not the gift. Therefore, it doesn’t matter to them if the gift is expensive or simple. The fact that you spent time, money, and effort to give them a gift translates to them that they are really special to you.
So these are the five love languages. As I’ve said, the knowledge of these love languages is very helpful in cultivating a healthy relationship with our loved ones. A person who can master the application of these love languages will surely have satisfying relationships in his or her life. But at this point in our discussion, we are only talking about human relationships. For us Christians, we all know that there’s the most important relationship in our lives, and that is our relationship with God.
And so, have you ever wondered what God’s love language is?
It is without doubt that our relationship with God is centered in love. First of all, it was His love for us that motivated Him to save us by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins (John 3:16). When the Pharisees asked Jesus as to what is the greatest commandment, Jesus answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-39).
Because we’ve just learned the love languages, loving our neighbor is now easier. But if you notice carefully, the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. So how do we exactly do that? How do we show our love for God? Remember, even if your love for someone is true, it won’t be felt unless it is expressed through the right love language of that person. So this means that as Christians, it is very important that we know what God’s language is.
GOOD NEWS! The Bible already revealed what it is!
But before I share what it is, I want to discuss first the trouble that comes by not knowing what God’s love language is; and I will start by sharing my own mistake.
My love language is acts of service. Even if I don’t take a test, that will come as obvious. Ever since I was child, I always express my love for others by serving them. I show my love for others by taking care of them. I am 100% sure that my love language are not words of affirmation (I confess, I never said “I love you” to my Mom), physical touch (I’m an introvert, which means I avoid close contact), quality time (because I’m an introvert again), and receiving gifts (I just don’t feel anything special when people give me gifts). But to make myself clear, it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate it when people express their love for me through their love languages. It just proves that my love language is really through acts of service. I feel so loved when people do nice things for me. To be honest, I already feel loved if someone just makes me a cup of coffee. And to be honest again, I become sad and feel unloved when someone I love neglects me. So now that I have shared what my love language is, I want to share how it affected my relationship with God.
I love God. And because my love language is acts of service, I expressed my love for Him through service. The ministry that I volunteered in in our church is the Ushering Ministry. I find that ministry to be the closest to the essence of serving. Ushers take care of people’s needs, welcomes and assists them inside the church, and provide them what they need. I also serve in the ministry of discipleship. Discipleship for me is the first person level of serving. So because I’m serving God, I was led to believe that that’s the proof that I love God. That is until I learned that I was wrong. In one of my courses in seminary, we read the book, Maximum Joy by Dr. Dave Anderson. It is an exegetical analysis of 1 John. In that book, he revealed what God’s love language is. According to him, God’s love language is not in any of the five major love languages of humans. By citing John 14:15, Dr. Anderson revealed that God’s love language is:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”John 14:15
That’s it! This is God’s love language! OBEDIENCE!!
Learning this was one of the greatest realizations of my life. During that moment, I was saddened because I realized that I was expressing my love for God in the wrong way. But hold on, it doesn’t mean that I was disobeying God or living a sinful life. It’s just that I became too focused on serving Him that forgot to check myself if I’m still keeping all of God’s commandments. And this is the danger that I am talking about by having a wrong knowledge of God’s love language: WE TEND TO COMPENSATE FOR OUR DISOBEDIENCE. Allow me to elaborate.
Just as I’ve said, I became too focused on serving God and became unmindful of my obedience to His commandments. I confess that there were times when I failed to obey some of God’s commandments and thought that I’m still ok because my service for Him will compensate for it. And I believe that this is also true for many of us, including those who belong to the other love languages. Those who belong to words of affirmation express their love for God through prayer and worship. Those who belong to quality time express their love for God by spending time in church or by reading the Bible. Those who belong to physical touch obviously can’t express their love for God through any physical contact. However, I noticed that many of them expressed it through fellowship with other believers. After all, what we do for others, we do for God (Matt. 25:40). And those who belong to receiving gifts express their love for God through tithes and offering. Once again, there’s nothing wrong with any of these. In fact, doing all of these are encouraged.
But the danger that I’m warning you about is that once you fall for the belief that you can express your love for God by doing any of these, you might prioritize these over obedience to God’s will.
That is exactly what happened to me. I prioritized serving God over strict obedience to His commandments. And trust me, this happens to many of us. I’ve seen and met many people who worship God with loud voices and then later, they would use the same mouth to slander other Christians. I’ve seen many Christians who would spend so much time in church but never enough time to share the Gospel to unbelievers. And lastly, perhaps one of the most familiar, are Christians who won’t serve in church, won’t practice spiritual disciplines, and won’t obey God’s commandments simply because they faithfully give their tithes to the church and for them, that compensates for everything. As I’ve said, this is the danger of not knowing what God’s love language is: It results to an unsatisfying and fruitless fellowship with Him.
Now that we know what God’s love language is, I pray that this learning has opened your eyes and hearts to re-examine yourselves and check if you are really prioritizing obedience to God’s will in your life. Just as Jesus said, if we really love Him, this is how we prove it. And to clarify, God already knows if we really love Him or not even if we don’t do anything. This is why I hope that we always keep this in mind: We don’t obey God to prove to Him that we love Him. We obey God to prove to ourselves, and to others, that we really love Him.
“And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.
Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.”1 John 2:3-6
God bless!! 🙂