Everyone needs to love and be loved. For most people this is primarily expressed in a committed and loving relationship, but it also extends to a wider family and social network. Love and belonging are part of being fully human. But how do we express our love and how do we like to receive love. The early church understood that sometimes words were not enough, they were advised “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” (1 John 3:18)
In his best-selling book The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman outlines five ways to express and experience love. Chapman calls these “love languages”: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. He writes that if we want the object of our affections to feel loved then we should not use the love languages that we like the most but rather the love languages that their loved ones can receive.
What are the 5 Love Languages?
- Words of Affirmation: If this is your love language, hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love is even better. But on the down side words can also hurt, insults can bite deep and are not easily forgotten.
- Quality Time: If Quality Time is your love language, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. The TV off, smart-phone down, and all chores on standby—this is what makes you feel truly special and loved. But be warned, distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
- Receiving Gifts: This love language isn’t about materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, a gift shows that you are known, cared for, and prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. If your partner has this language then you should know that a missed birthday, anniversary, or thoughtless gift would be disastrous
- Acts of Service: Is doing the dishes an expression of love? Absolutely, if this is your love language! Anything someone does to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words “Let me do that for you” speak love to you. “I’ve already done that.” Is even better, but laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tells speakers of this language that they don’t matter.
- Physical Touch: This language isn’t all about the bedroom, but it does include it. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch loves hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face. They can all be ways to show care and love.
The God revealed in Jesus not only speaks many love languages, but takes the initiative. As John put it “God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son.” (1 John 4:8-10)
This is the gospel, and it’s good news.