People will say some silly things to to prove they love someone. One expression I hear a lot these day that sounds silly to me is: “I love you to the moon and back!” Some of our favorite silly love songs say I love you in more romantic and musically beautiful ways. Rod Stewart (originally Van Morrison) sang, “Have I told you lately that I love you?” Stevie Wonder sang, “I just called to say I love you!” And, perhaps the most unrealistic of all, Chicago sang, “You’re the meaning in my life; you’re the inspiration.” Man that sounds good, but it's a lot of pressure to be the main person who brings meaning and inspiration to someone's life. Maybe it would be better for us to look to God for that instead of a mere mortal!
The inspiration for today's blog came from a song by a group called Extreme. They sang, "More than words is all you have to do to make it real. Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me, 'cause I'd already know." Saying "I love you" is important, but real love is deeper than words.
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
Jesus showed God’s love by his actions. It is interesting to note, the Bible never records Jesus saying those three words that are so powerful in our culture: “I love you.” That doesn't prove he never said "I love you" because the New Testament didn't record everything Jesus said and did. We know Jesus did love people. There were many occasions the scripture reported his feelings of genuine love for people. However, we can be sure of Jesus' deep love--not because of what he said, but--because of what he did.
First of all, Jesus left the glory of heaven to live in our broken world. John 1:14 – "So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness." Jesus left the perfection of Heaven where he was fully loved, adored, and worshiped and came to live in our broken world, in a broken human body, dealing with our broken political, economic, and social systems, and suffering the hurt, sadness, suffering, and death of our broken lives. He didn't have to do it, but he did because he loves us.
Jesus said "I love you" by teaching us how to live and survive and find forgiveness and love and salvation through faith in God's grace. Jesus also showed his love by serving us. Matthew 20:28 – “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Even though we should have been the ones serving Jesus, his love compelled him to serve us selflessly. And finally, Jesus died for us. John 15:13 – "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends."
Since Jesus loved us, we ought to love one another. And Jesus’ death on the cross is the cue for our level of commitment. It is not that we necessarily also actually die. What it means is we should love each other without limits.
We’re all different and we communicate and receive love in different ways. Gary Chapman wrote a great book, The Five Love Languages, that identifies five of the most common ways people express and receive love. The trick to really showing people you love them is knowing how the person you love receives love. It is very likely they receive love in a way different than you. And if you are always showing your love in ways they don't understand, they might not know how much you love them even if you love them very much. The key is learning how to speak their love language. And here's the really cool thing, knowing a person's love language isn't just for romantic relationships. It's vital for showing love to your kids, your friends, family, anyone really.
Understanding and speaking the love languages can help you in all your relationships. So I encourage you to learn them. And I also would like to offer you some help is going deeper into the love languages with the people you care about. I have a few surveys available that can help you understand yourself and those you care about better. My family and I used these during a family night get together. I learned my wife's primary love languages as well as my kids. And I try to keep these in mind as I work to show my love for each of them. Perhaps you would like to use the surveys too. Click here to email me and I will send them to you as an email attachment.
Now, I would like to give you an overview of the five love languages as we think Jesus's love and how we can love others like Jesus loves us.
Words of Affirmation The first love language is words of affirmation. Some people really feel loved simply because you tell them. There are some important things p eople you love need to hear you say. First of all, the need to hear you say, " I Love you." Now, not everyone likes to say those words and some feel that if you use them too much they lose their meaning; I get that. But people who speak the love language of words of affirmation need to hear you say it anyway. Furthermore, everyone you really care about, needs to hear you say, "I love you" at least once in their life. How sad it would be for a son or daughter to go through their whole live never having heard their father say he loved them. Perhaps he showed them in a thousand ways by what he did and how he cared for and protected them, but if he never actually said it would be sad. So say "I love you." And for those who say those words all the time, make sure you go deeper and say why you love them.
There are some other things the people you love need to hear from you. They need to hear you say "I’m sorry." We all make mistakes, but it makes a real difference when we tell people we love we are sorry when we mess up. My brother is eight years older than me and he was my idol when I was a child. I looked up to him so much. But sometimes he would get angry with me (probably because I was being a pest, like little brothers sometimes can be). I remember very vividly, though, a few times my older brother came to me after getting angry and saying "I'm sorry." That left a huge impression on me. I knew he loved me when he said that.
The people we love need to hear us say, " No." Healthy relationships have healthy boundaries and if you love someone you need to help establish them. Saying "No" in a loving way is one of the ways you do that.
And finally, the people you love need to hear you say, "Thank you." It shows you're grateful and this is especially important people whose love language is words of affirmation.
Now you also need to be careful, because one sure way to really hurt people with this love language is to speak hurtfully to them. If you get angry or frustrated and lash out or say something mean to them, it's like you are saying, "I don't love you!" To you, they may just be words; but to a person who's primary way of receiving love is through words, your hurtful words are telling them you don't care about them. So be kind and loving with your words--especially to those who speak the love language of Words of Affirmation.
Acts of Service
The second love language is Acts of Service. 1 John 3:18 teaches we should love—not merely by words—but by our actions. For many people who speak this love language, actions speak louder than words. You may say "I love you" a thousand times to an Acts of Service love language person, and they might respond, "Well that's just great. But what have you done for me lately?" If you want them to know you really love them, you're gonna have to get to work. Anything you can do to ease their burden of responsibilities will communicate your love to them and will be deeply appreciated. And here's how you can really earn some bonus points with a person who speaks the acts of service love language. Quite often, people don't even know what they need help with. So, if you can figure it out and help them without them even asking, you will really show them your love.
Now with every type of love language, there are things we sometimes do that communicate the opposite of love; things that seem to say, "I don't really care about you." For a person who's love language is acts of service, it really bugs them when you are lazy or make a promise and don't keep it. And it also bothers them more than the average person when you make more work for them. So be careful not to do these with people whose primary love language is acts of service.
For some people, the primary way they receive love is by receiving gifts. That might seem petty or materialistic if that's not your primary love language. However, don’t mistake this for materialism--it’s not about the things; it’s about the thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. To people who speak this love language, a gift shows they are known, appreciated, cared for, and prized above whatever sacrifice it took to give them a gift. Remember, the wise men gave Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They weren't trying to buy his love. They were expressing their love and adoration through a material gift. Another story in the New Testament is the woman who anointed Jesus' feet with an expensive perfume. It wasn't about the gift as much as it was the love she showed as she wept at his feet. And remember, what is it that Jesus really wants? Jesus wants your heart.
Now, you need to be careful because the surest way to make someone with the primary love language of receiving gifts feel like you don't really love them or care is to miss their birthdays or anniversaries, or just grab a hasty gift you didn't really think about. A thoughtless gift is about as bad as no gift because it communicates you didn't care enough to think about it and don't really care about them.
A fourth love language is quality time. Quality time is time spent in giving another person one's undivided attention in order to strengthen a relationship. One of the most precious gifts you can give in our busy day and age is your time. People will pay someone to clean their house, wash their car, or change the oil. They could do these things themselves, but it is worth it for some people to pay someone else to do these menial tasks because their time is more valuable than the money it cost to pay someone. They would rather spend their time on things they see as more important or meaningful.
Jesus was an extremely busy and important person. Everyone wanted to be with him. And in a day and age when children were considered very unimportant, Jesus spent quality time with them. When some children came to see Jesus, his disciples try to send them away. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.” Children were important to Jesus and he gave them his undivided attention to show that "Jesus loves the little children of the world."
Now, for a person whose primary love language is quality time, the surest way for you to communicate you don't really love them is to let yourself be distracted when you are there to be with them. It's like when you are talking to them and you're not really listening or you keep stopping to check the Facebook updates on your phone. Or, maybe you had a date to go out with them and you canceling or postponing the date. These behaviors are especially hurtful to people who crave quality time with you. So, turn off the TV and your cell phone and just be together!
The last love language I will discuss is physical touch. Jesus often loved people with his touch. Jesus' touch healed people of leprosy, which was a contagious skin disease. People with Matthew 8:3, it says, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared."
leprosy were considered untouchable. People would shun them and isolate them from the rest of society. And even though Jesus had the power to heal them with a word from across the way, he chose to heal them with his touch. In
Some people just really need a hug, or a pat on the back, or a thoughtful touch on their arm as you shake their hand. These simple acts of physical touch communicate that you care. But it's not just a actual physical contact. A person whose primary love language is physical touch also need you to "being there for them." They need you to be with them when they're going through a hard time--even if you don't say anything. Your presence is a comfort and communicates you love to them. They need you to answer when they call or text. And they need you to return their emails in a timely manner. These also show them you care.
On the other hand, when you aren't accessible to them, it makes them feel like you don't really care or love them. So be careful. And also be sure your physical touches are appropriate. Touch is a very intimate matter and people can interpret it in different ways. So it can be helpful ask what's appropriate and honor it. Also, consider how damaging physical neglect or abuse might be to someone whose primary love language is physical touch. Be careful to show your love and avoid doing anything that a person who speaks this love language might see as particular unloving.
Jesus Love YouJesus is the ultimate example of God’s love. He shows his love for us in every love language. He told us of God’s love through the Gospel and his teaching. For God so loved the world that he sent His only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) He came, not to be served, but to serve others. Furthermore, he gave the most precious gift of his life as a ransom. (Mt 20:28) Jesus spent three years of quality time with his disciples. He ate wth them, walked with them, camped with them, taught them, trained them, and served with them. He welcomed little children and spend quality time with them. He ate with sinners and tax collector who no one else would give the time of day. Jesus touched lepers when others said they were untouchable. His touch brought healing and forgiveness and peace. Jesus showed us in everyway that his love is amazing and true. And the depth of his commitment was death itself.
I hope you know how much Jesus loves you. And I hope it fills you to the depths of your souls. For when it does, you will be ready to love your self and love your neighbor as yourself and love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all you mind, and with all your strength.