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God's Love Language

by Hilary MacBeth

by Hilary MacBeth

Title                  God's Love Language
Theme              The five languages of Love


I'm very interested in the subject of love. Being loved is what gives our lives meaning whether it's the love of parent, sibling, friend, spouse. Without love our lives seem empty because a basic God-given need is not being filled.

Many of the people I listen to in the course of my work are there because they are not experiencing enough love or they don't know how to express it, and as a result their lives are unhappy and often very painful. It's like they are experiencing an internal drought and as hard as they try they somehow can't manage to tap into the springs of joy-giving water.

The psychologist author, Gary Chapman, has written a brilliant book entitled "The Five Love Languages."  Some of you may be familiar with it. I like this book so much that I persuade the pre-marriage couples I see to own their own copy.

In his book, Chapman describes what he calls love languages, and as the title of the book suggests, there are five of them.  According to Chapman a love language is the way love is expressed and received and this expression is not confined to words but includes such things as attitudes and actions. No surprise there. The interesting thing is though, that we each have what Chapman calls our primary love language or the language that we use to express love and the language by which we feel loved by others.

So the five languages are: 

How do we identify our primary love language? Often by being aware of unmet needs.

So it is often what is not happening for us and therefore causing us hurt in terms of the five love languages that helps us to be aware of our need. Some of those needs come from childhood experiences e.g. if we received a lot of criticism as children our need might be to be affirmed and so our primary love language may be words of affirmation. Or if when we were young nobody paid much attention to us for what ever reason and did not go out of their way to spend time with us one-on one (except perhaps for discipline and punishment) our primary love language might be quality time. Do you see how it works?

When we are in a close relationship with someone, parent, child, close friends, lover, it is valuable if we can firstly identify our own primary love language and secondly the primary love language of the other person. If we can do this and understand how it works we can understand why we sometimes feel hurt and why our loved one feels hurt when no hurt is intended. What it boils down to is that we are simply not speaking the right language to be understood. We try to express our love but we miss the mark and feel confused. Does this sound familiar?

Well, I won't bore you with any more of that but it got me to thinking about God and his love. What love language does He use when He expresses his love to you and me? And do we always get the message? And what language do we use when we attempt to express our love to God? Do we sometimes disappoint him?

And what about when we try to share God's love with others? Do they always see God's love in our efforts? Are we good representatives of who God is, remembering that God is Love.

It's not until we enter into a love relationship with God, opening ourselves up to God, that he can pour into our lives all the blessings He has in store for us. It's not until we experience God's love for ourselves that we can share it with others and be the kind of representatives that tell the truth about God - the truth being that He loves us with a love that goes way beyond our understanding and He yearns for us to love Him in return. That is the essence of salvation.

One thing I do know however- I cannot be a true and faithful representative of someone unless I know that person's thoughts and desires. So how do I get to know God well enough to be his true representative and share his amazing love with others?

See Ephesians 5: 1,2.

1. Follow God's example in every thing you do, because you are his dear children.

2. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased because the sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him.

So if Jesus' love for us is like sweet perfume to God the Father and we follow his example by loving others it follows that our love for others is also like a sweet perfume to our heavenly father. Here's a thought, are we filling his courts with a fragrance He enjoys?

How do we begin to understand the breadth and depth of God's love for us?

Read the passage in Philipians 2:6-8

Let's really think about this:

The creator of God's vast universe came to earth as a helpless newborn, sleeping on straw, wearing a nappy, dependent on a young girl to breast feed him to keep him alive. I don't understand that do you? During his earthly life he enjoyed few creature comforts and lots of hardships and ended up dying of a broken heart, nailed to a criminal's cross. The great creator killed by the people he created. Jesus gave himself completely in the cause of saving sinful humans. It doesn't make sense unless we try to understand it as an expression of God's incredible love for the human race.

It seems to us to be an extreme measure to go to but God's love for us is extreme, his plan of salvation is extreme. He longs so deeply to redeem us and to claim us as his and he did what it took to achieve that. Can we even begin to understand how precious we are to him? How can we possibly resist that kind of love? And what does it mean to be a child of God?

Lives are changed when people come in contact with God's love. Max Lucado tells this story and I wish to repeat it.:

When her husband Lewis became the warden of Sing Sing prison in 1921 Catherine Lawes was a young mother of three daughters. Everyone warned her never to set foot inside the prison walls, but she didn't listen to them. When the first prison basketball game was held, in she went with three girls in tow and took a seat in the bleachers with the inmates.

She once said, " I and my husband are going to take care of them and I believe they will take care of me. I don't have to worry".

When she heard that one convicted murderer was blind she taught him to read Braille. Upon hearing of inmates who were hearing-impaired she studied sign language so they could communicate.  For sixteen years Catherine Lawes softened the hardened hearts of the men of Sing Sing. In 1937 the world saw the difference real love makes.

The prisoners knew that something was wrong when Lewis didn't report to work. Quickly the word spread that Catherine had been killed in a car accident. The following day her body was placed in her home three quarters of a mile away from the prison. As the acting warden took his early morning walk he noticed a large gathering of prisoners at the main gate all pressed against the fence, eyes awash with tears, faces solemn. No one spoke or moved. They had come to stand as close as they could to the woman who had given them love.

The warden made a remarkable decision. "Alright men, you can go. Just be sure to check in by tonight". These were America's hardest criminals, murderers, robbers. These were men the nation had locked away for life. But the warden unlocked the gate for them and they walked without escort or guard to the home of Catherine Lawes to pay their last respects and, to a man, each returned. Real love changes people.

I love the Old Testament story of Naomi.

There's actually not a lot we're told about Naomi but enough for us to speculate:  Here is a little Hebrew farmer's wife who in an effort to escape drought conditions and financial hardship has travelled with her husband and two sons to a foreign land - Moab - where water supply is not a problem and the soil is fertile.(I picture the area around Dorigo when I think of Moab). Good farming country. Trouble is the locals are heathens. I wonder what that was like, raising young boys and teaching them to worship Jehovah and keep his commandments without a church community to support them. I wonder what Sabbaths were like for that family, just the four of them. All of the boys' friends were local kids. Disaster strikes - her husband dies leaving her a single mother in a foreign country - her net-work of support, family and friends, are out of reach. How lonely must that have been for her? Then the boys grow up and being normal lads they want to get married so they find wives from the local community and settle down. Of course, being Moabitish women, the wives were heathens. What was that like for Naomi, the prospect of her sons forgetting about Jehovah and her prospective grand-children being raised in heathen homes without a knowledge of the true god? The story tells us that the sons also died, presumably before fathering any children. So what does Naomi have left - two non-Hebrew daughters-in-law for whom she feels very sorry and urges them to return to their families and make new lives for themselves, leaving her to return alone to Bethlehem-Judah. One does, the other doesn't, and it is the words of the latter, Ruth, that gives us some insight into the person Naomi was.

Ruth 1:16,17

But Ruth answered, "Don't ask me to leave you! Let me go with you! Wherever you go I will go; wherever you live I will live. Your people will be my people and your god will be my god. Wherever you die I will die and that is where I will be buried. May the Lord's worst punishment come upon me if I let anything but death separate me from you."

How many daughters-in-law would feel that way about their mothers-in-law? Unless the mother-in-law was an exceptional woman, and Naomi was! We can conclude that while Naomi was far from home and church community that she maintained a close relationship with God. Not only did she remain faithful to God, God lived in her and through her. Her life was an expression of who God is - she demonstrated God through her unconditional love for her children and her open acceptance of their wives. Maybe it was because of her isolation and the perceived danger of losing her family to heathenism that she dove deep into God's presence and took on his character of love that won and saved the young Ruth. But whatever the answer is one thing is certain - Naomi represented God's love beautifully and told the wonderful truth about him.

Please return for Part 2 of this article in the next edition of the Online Magazine.

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