Showing love; treating people with love can impact them, it can impact us, and it can impact our circumstances. That’s what I want to talk to you about this morning.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
Skip to verse 11:
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
What I hope to unpack in the next 25 minutes is that: Experiencing love is different for each person, and learning how best to express love to the people in your life is worth the effort.
Verses 4-8 of I Corinthians 13 are what I would call the “given” or minimum aspects of love. Being patient, kind, not jealous or proud, not rude or self-seeking, not angry and not record keeping, but rejoicing in truth, protecting, trusting, hoping, and persevering, all of those describe what I would consider basic. You can’t say you are loving without demonstrating those positive attributes and without refraining from the negative ones.
But you know as Christians, we are called to go the “extra mile.” Why stop at the bare minimum? I’d like to add something to verse 11. As it is tucked inside the love passage, I don’t believe I am stepping out of bounds or twisting the context to mean something it doesn’t support. I would suggest we read it this way:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, and I loved like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Because love is more than a feeling, because it is a pursuit, because is the biblical standard, and because it is also knowledge and action, it stands to reason that as we grow as people and as we grow as Christians, we ought to grow in our ability to express love. Our love for others just in general and showing love as a lifestyle should become more consistent. But also, our love should grow deeper for the people God has placed close to us, and our desire to love those people in our lives effectively and to the best of our ability should become our pursuit.
The ways we experienced love or expected love or showed love as children ought to change as we progress through life and obtain understanding about what real love is. In addition to that, I believe there is a need not just to understand the standard of love, but to understand that each person experiences love and expresses love differently and becoming educated and aware of how love is best given and received from individual to individual is also part of the maturing process we can and should embrace as we strive to “prefer one another above ourselves” as Scripture encourages.
Romans 12:10 tells us, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”I am only devoted to my husband and children in love if I understand how they feel and experience love and seek to love them in that way. In many ways, learning to love one another involves becoming a student of each of other.
Love is truly a language, and each of us speaks it differently. I remember when I traveled with the Women’s Chorus at Anderson University to Germany to do concerts in churches there. Most of the songs we sang, we sang in German. What an impression it made on our German brothers and sisters in Christ that we went out of our way to learn to sing in a language they could understand. They were able to fully experience what we intended because we made sure we were speaking their language.
Many of you are familiar with Christian author, Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages. In the book he identifies five different love languages. At the end of the message I will give you a website you can go to which will allow you to take a quiz to discover your love language as well as the love language of any children you may have or be very close to. As I describe these love languages you may see yourself in all five, but there will likely be one that stands out most to you which will be the main way you experience love.
The first language Dr. Chapman highlights is what he calls: WORDS OF AFFIRMATION-Turn to Matthew 16:13-19. Some people doubt if love for them is real unless they hear words of compliment or appreciation. They need to know that the people closest to them see what they are getting right. That encouragement will help them continue to thrive and develop. As their confidence increases their creativity and productivity will grow. The reason some people are workaholics is not because they need applause or approval, but they need to know they are on the right track. They need the people closest to them to validate their contribution in order for them to be able to rest in their own accomplishment.
Words are important. Remember, we are created in God’s image. We have qualities or capacities in some ways that are like Him. Speaking and the using of words are some of those capacities. Words are important because they have creative power. God spoke the world into existence. Our words, as well, have power to build up and to destroy. Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth (James 3:10).
For a biblical example of words of affirmation, let’s read Matthew 16:13-19 13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
How did Jesus respond to Peter’s answer that Jesus was the Christ? He called him blessed. He let him know he was on the right track. He affirmed that obviously God had been speaking to him. Peter had heard from heaven. He let Peter know how valuable his contribution to His team was. He spoke encouraging words over Peter’s future.
In John 1:42 Jesus had already changed Simon’s name to Peter. Peter’s new name meant “stone” or “small rock.” Peter would be a stone, a helper, a builder in the Kingdom of God. What a special future he had! And Jesus went on to say, “On this rock I will build my church.” What was the rock Jesus was referring to? The big rock was the big confession Peter had just made when he declared Jesus was the Christ. Peter, a stone, was lifting up Jesus, the rock, the Cornerstone of this Heavenly Kingdom that was being built. Jesus went on to tell him in verse 19 that because Peter was on the right track, because he knew who Jesus was and was willing to express it in that moment that he would be given authority to express it in the future and in a big way!
How much those words would have bolstered Peter! How encouraged he must have felt! Jesus had a plan to use him in a special way, and he said it out loud in front of all the other disciples! Peter got an “atta boy” in front of his friends! Did Peter perfectly declare that Jesus was the Christ from that moment forward? No. But after the Holy Spirit filled him at Pentecost he was on fire, and nothing could keep him from declaring it was so!
My husband’s love language happens to be words of affirmation. Mine is not. So I have to remember to say nice things. J I have to remember to say affirming things to him. Telling him what a great job he has done and affirming my love through expressing my appreciation for how he leads our family. It means the world to him. Thanking him for what he does for me is important. He needs to hear from me that he is an amazing father and husband. Telling him I respect him, speaking words of encouragement over him is the way to his heart.
Is there someone in your life you can love more effectively by speaking the language of words of affirmation? For anyone, but especially for someone for whom words of affirmation is their love language, consider how much damage is done when harsh words are spoken. I love this prayer in Psalm 141:3: “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Is there someone who needs to hear, “I’m sorry for the unkind or angry things I have said to you” in order for you to start loving them more effectively? Is there a spouse, a child, or someone else who is close to you that needs to hear words of affirmation from you in order to feel loved?
The second love language is called QUALITY TIME. Luke 24:13-33
Luke’s Gospel tells us about two of Christ’s followers who are heading home that first Easter Sunday. They are confused about what has happened. Jesus’ body had been rumored to have been stolen. They had placed all bets on Jesus. Everything they hoped for they believed would be found in following Him, but now He was dead. He was gone. As they were walking along and were discussing their pain, a “stranger” joined them on their journey. You and I know it was the Resurrected Christ, but they didn’t know it … not at first.
The stranger, Jesus, began sharing Scripture with them about the Messiah and all that had been predicted about him. Time was passing. It was getting dark. I want to pick up the story in verse 28.28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
How special was that post resurrection experience? Jesus could have just snuck up on them while they were walking and revealed who He was in a hurry. After all, He had people to see and places to go. But it was through some quality time with these disciples that they could best receive Him, that they could best put all of the pieces together, that they could best experience the love of the Risen Christ.
Feelings take time to express. Getting the details across doesn’t always happen in a hurry. Having someone look you in the eye, nod their head and interject thoughts to show they are listening, all of these are part of quality time. Does a spouse or children you love need a special afternoon, a date night, or some minutes each day where they can share what is going on in their hearts and lives with you and have your undivided attention? If quality time is one of your loved one’s love languages, carve out some special time for them on a regular basis. To show that you want to speak the person’s language tell them you want to carve out time to spend just with them and ask them what they want to do.
The third love language is: RECEIVING GIFTS! And all the shoppers said, “Amen!” If you have a special someone in your life right now, even if receiving gifts isn’t their love language, I hope you acknowledged them somehow yesterday. Whatever you do, don’t do like one guy who shall remain nameless. His friend asked him if he had bought anything for his wife for Valentine’s Day to which the man replied, “Yeah, I bought her a belt and a bag!” His friend said, “That sounds good. I hope she liked them both” to which his friend replied, “I hope so to. Hopefully the vacuum cleaner will work better now!” Not a good way to score points on Valentine’s Day, men!
Back to receiving gifts as a love language.J For people who possess this love language, it really is the thought that counts. Gifts don’t have to be over the top, extravagant and expensive. The gift just communicates, “I thought of you and wanted to bless you because you are special to me.” A gift is a physical symbol of love that connects greatly with some people. A gift can demonstrate that you honor someone just like the Wisemen did when they presented Jesus with gifts at His birth in Matthew 2:11.
Gary Chapman writes of a couple he called Doug and Kate. He had met them in Chicago after having given a presentation on marriage. Doug had been busy providing and Kate was busy with home details, and after hearing Gary’s seminar and discovering Kate’s love language was gifts Doug brought home a lone rose on the Monday following the seminar.
Then on Tuesday, in the early afternoon, he called and offered to bring home a pizza so Kate would not have to cook. He had never done anything like that before!
Wednesday came and he brought home boxes of Cracker Jacks for the kids and a potted plant for Kate saying the single rose would not last, but the plant could last longer.
On Friday he stopped at a cookie store and brought a cookie home for his wife and each of his children.
The couple had made plans to go out for a date on Saturday night during which Doug said to Kate, “How about instead of once a day, I bring you some kind of gift once a week. That will give me 52 opportunities to fill your love tank every year.” A marriage that was in trouble went from being on the rocks to being revived and now thriving, all because he learned to speak her language.
The greatest gifts are the ones from the heart. They serve as a tangible sign that someone has part of your heart.
The fourth language is ACTS OF SERVICE. This happens to be my love language! Nothing lights the love fire in my heart faster than when my husband unloads the dishwasher or changes the lightbulbs in the house! Seriously! His help and service say to me, “I’m in this with you. I know it takes a lot to run this place, and I know you have a lot on your plate. I want to help shoulder the load!” (Did you know you were saying that, honey?” Maybe you are like me and nothing says, “I care” more than a well-vacuumed floor or scrubbed toilet! Acts of service are a very personal way to say “I love you” to me because they require someone’s time and energy. If there are two things we could all use more of they are time and energy and when someone is willing to spend some of their time and energy on me so I can have a little more time and energy, I am hooked and head over heels in love!
The fifth and final language is PHYSICAL TOUCH. Ooh la la! Now ya’ll are glad you hung in until the last point, aren’t you!? (Call a good sport up and extend my hand for them to shake it. Ask them to extend theirs, but refuse to shake it. How does that make them feel? Ask them to extend their hand again and then use hand sanitizer after.)
Touch is a part of any loving relationship whether parent to child, sibling to sibling or the intimate kind of physical touch a husband and wife share. Hugs and kisses and pats on the back and head and “high fiving” each other are all important and to some people, physical touch is everything. Body language and the willingness to get close to someone for some people says, “I love you.” The comfort of an arm around your shoulder in a moment of crises or grief can help you feel secure and understood, like you are not alone. For some people, a hug says more than words.
Our willingness to love is really measured by our willingness to learn to speak the language of those we love. You can discover your love language and your kids’ love languages at: www.fivelovelanguages.com.
I will tell you this without reservation, Jesus speaks your language. He is fluent in all five languages, and His life and Word prove it.
The Bible is filled with WORDS OF AFFIRMATION. Jesus spoke WORDS OF AFFIRMATION over His followers and others He encountered. No one is more affirming of you, your ability, your worth, your potential, and your future than Jesus.
Jesus was devoted to the giving of His time (QUALITY TIME) to people. He spent a considerable amount of time, the better part of three years, teaching His disciples and patiently leading them. He took time to heal and help people He encountered along the way. He even gave a few of His final moments to the thief on the cross hanging next to Him. He is willing to spend time with you and me every day if we will turn our attention to Him.
When it comes to giving gifts, Jesus is the biggest Giver ever. John 3:16 is the best Valentine ever written for that verse describes a gift from God’s heart right to ours. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Oh, the gift of Jesus was expensive in that paying the price for our sin cost Him His life, but it was that precious gift that revealed the heart of God the Father who wants you and me to be His forever. As I said earlier, the best gifts are ones from the heart.
No one outdid Jesus when it comes to Acts of Service. Even on the night He was betrayed by Judas, before it all went down, Jesus stooped down to wash Judas’ and all of the disciples’ feet. Jesus said this about Himself in Mark 10:45, “For I have not come to be served, but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.” Wherever He walked, He served.
Jesus was also fluent in physical touch. He took children into His arms and blessed them. He touched all kinds of people; diseased people, dead people and bleeding people. He stuck His fingers in a man’s ears and touched his tongue in order to heal him. He touched a blind man’s eyes with mud on His hands. Jesus came close to whoever needed a physical touch.
The impact of love is that people gain courage, confidence, strength, and security when they hear it in their own language. The impact of this kind of love is that people become whole and that relationships gain strength. The impact of this kind of love is that it never fails, and it becomes a framework for living that will enable us to live our best possible life in our homes and will enable us to have the most effective impact on the world in which we live.