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Worship Series: Joining Jesus
Worship Theme: Love in Any Language
- CW 491 O Master of the Loving Heart
- CW 505 Love Is the Gracious Gift
- Lamb of God
- CW 369 Beautiful Savior
Message: Joining Jesus - Love in Any Language
Pastor Jon Enter
It’s Valentine’s Day. Hooray! (said unenthusiastically) Today’s the day of arbitrary, artificial love. Ah. Valentine’s Day is tough! If you are in a relationship, you know you don’t want to mess today up because there are expectations you need to meet and even exceed but don’t you go so far above and beyond that you make the other person feel bad. That backfires. Yikes, pressure! Valentine’s Day is also tough if you aren’t in a relationship because you hear all the advertisements about love; you see on Facebook all the happy couples celebrating their love and it can hurt.
God made us with a capacity for love. God built us to long to be loved by a significant other, by friends and by family. How are those relationships going? Are any of them strained? Broken? Need improving? If you’re not feeling the love, it’s probably because you aren’t loving others the way they love to be loved or you aren’t getting loved the way you want to be loved.
On Wednesday this last week, the Small Group Bible Study that Debbi and host were part of a live Zoom call with Dr. Gary Chapman. Do you know who he is? He’s the author of the bestselling book, The Five Love Languages. When I say best selling, I mean BEST SELLING! His book has been on the New York best sellers list every year since 2009. He’s sold over 12 million copies and the book has been translated into dozens of languages. His insights into how each of us love to be loved has revolutionized marriage counseling and rekindled broken parent/child, brother/sister, husband/wife relationships.
When I read today’s text, I instantly thought of his insights into love. I’m going to quickly tell you the five different love languages. By the way, when you know these Five Love Languages and pay attention to them it will change how your read the Bible moving forward AND it will change how you see your relationships with others. When someone loves us in our love language, it fills our hearts with joy. When they don’t, we struggle and feel unloved.
Here are the five love languages as defined by Dr. Gary Chapman. Here are the five ways God built people to express love and love to be loved. Words of Affirmation (verbally saying I love you or giving regular compliments). Gifts (buying or making small/regular gifts for others). Acts of Service (showing love through action/service). Quality Time (interacting with someone in a meaningful, personal way). Physical Touch (hugging, handholding, snuggling).
In our sermon text today, Jesus showed love to a man in that man’s love language, in the way that man longed to be loved. See if you can pick out which love language Jesus used to communicate that He cared for him. “When Jesus came down from the mountainside...a man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. (Matt. 8:1-3)
Did you catch the love language Jesus used to communicate he cared for this man? Physical Touch! This man had leprosy, a highly contagious skin disease. Lepers weren’t allowed to live among the healthy; zero contact with others. In fact, if a healthy person got too close to them, the diseased person by command of the law had to yell out about themselves, “Unclean! Unclean!” How do you think that man longed to be loved? He would’ve craved physical touch since he couldn’t touch or be touched anyone. Notice he knelt before Jesus not touching Christ. Notice what Jesus did before he even spoke one word to this man. Jesus communicated that he loved this leper in his love language—Physical Touch. “Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man.” In that moment, in that instant, the man with leprosy felt loved.
Let’s keep going. I’m telling you knowing and focusing on these Love Languages will both have you read/see the Bible differently and it will cause you to see life, your relationships with others differently. But first, the Bible. Think about the story of Mary and Martha. They spoke two different Love Languages. If you recall from Luke chapter 10, the sisters—Mary and Martha— invited Jesus and the disciples over to their house for a nice meal. As the night went along, Martha complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t helping at all with the preparations. Mary was just sitting there doing nothing listening to Jesus. What was Martha’s love language? Acts of service—as she showed love preparing the whole meal. So she was frustrated and felt unloved by her sister because Mary wasn’t helping. What was Mary’s love language? Quality Time. In Mary’s mind, she WAS doing something; she was spending quality time being with Jesus feeling loved by that interaction with Jesus. Do you see how people’s different ways of feeling love or expressing love leads quickly to conflicts and hurt if you don’t understand how each person loves to be loved?
And do you see why you feel hurt by a sibling whose Love Language is different than yours? You aren’t being loved in your love language.
I have two sisters. They have very different Love Languages. One sister is gifts. She comes up with creative, personal gifts for our parents that often cost quite a bit of money. That’s love for her. My other sister is not financially well off but she regularly takes time off work to drive my dad to the doctor. What’s her Love Language? Acts of service. Their differences can lead to frustration.
Back to the Bible. When you understand people have different love languages, different ways they love to be loved, you see people differently. You can pick out quite clearly in the Bible that Jacob, the father of Joseph, was a Gifts love language person. Jacob showered his son, Joseph, with gifts showing that Joseph was his favorite son. And Barnabas in the New Testament was a Words of Affirmation love language person as he loved to encourage others with his kind, uplifting words. Barnabas actually means “son of encouragement”. Peter in the Bible is an Acts of Service person. He was quick to do things...not always the right things! But he was quick to do.
Let’s talk about you. How do you love to be loved? If your primary or secondary love language is Physical Touch then you’re the person who loves to cuddle on the couch, to hug and be hugged and will touch your spouse’s arm or shoulder or hair as you pass by. When you’re talking with a friend or even a stranger and that person makes you laugh, if you are a Physical Touch person you’ll likely reach out a touch their arm or shoulder while laughing. Do you know people who do this? Their love language is Physical Touch.
If your primary or secondary love language is Quality Time then you crave spending dedicated, focused time with another person talking and experiencing life together. By the way, watching TV or a movie together on the couch is NOT quality time to a Quality Time love language person. Did you ever have a past boyfriend or girlfriend who just smothered you with attention and always, always wanted to be around you? That person’s love language was Quality Time and yours likely was not and still might not be today.
If your primary or secondary love language is Words of Affirmation you crave feedback about how you’re doing at your job and where things are at in your relationship. You love hearing small, little and regular compliments and if you don’t get them, you ask that oh so dangerous question that all men fear, “Honey, how do I look in this dress?” That’s seeking Words of Affirmation.
If your primary or secondary love language is Acts of Service then you love it when other people do little or even big things for you because then they are SHOWING you love rather than just buying your love.
If you’re a Gifts love language person, what I just said makes no sense to you! If your primary or secondary love language is gifts then money talks and gifts matter. A gifts love language person doesn’t always need the gift to be expensive but getting a gift means, “You thought about me; you really care.”
How does this work? I messed this up for years. Years! I’m a Words of Affirmation person. That’s how I love to be loved so I naturally shower my wife with compliments. You’re beautiful. This dinner was delicious. Thank you so much for doing the laundry. My wife is an Acts of Service love language person. When I showered her with praise, she didn’t feel loved. Her reaction? If you really love me, shut your mouth and do something. Debbi’s told me that in the history of the human race no husband has ever been shot dead while doing the dishes! Knowing my wife is an Acts of Love person, every day I make the bed. I clear the dinner table after supper. I try to show love.
If you’re losing connection with your spouse, for six months in small ways love your spouse in their love language. Not yours. See what happens.
If you’re losing connection with your siblings, I told the natural friction that can happen between my sisters. Start loving your brother, sister in their love language. Not yours. See what happens.
If you’re losing connection with a parent or child, listen to this. On Wednesday, Dr. Chapman told the story in our zoom call about a presentation he gave in prison. 300 inmates showed up. One man shared that this whole love language thing instantly changed his life. His love language is physical touch. The only day in his life his mom hugged him was the day he went to prison. He felt so unloved, forgotten, neglected by his mom. But his mom worked two long jobs. Did his laundry. Paid all the bills. Cooked all the meals. Her love language was Acts of Service. That day, for the first time, he felt his mom’s love and in front of all the other inmates he wept out and repeated. Momma loves me! Momma loves me! Momma loves me! Do you think the friction you have with you mom or dad or son or daughter might be that you’ve been speaking different love languages?
When we speak different love languages, when our hearts get hurt or feel neglected, we lash out. We said and thought and done awful, unloving things. The leper in our story today was physically unclean and said to Jesus, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” We are spiritually unclean by the frustrations and failures we’ve had in loving others. We are spiritually unclean by the anger and resent we’ve held in not being loved—the way we want to be loved—by others. Lord, if you are willing, make us clean. Forgive us.
He is. He is willing. As Jesus pushed past the cultural norms to love on that man who was so unloved by his disease, Jesus pushes past the clutches of the devil to love on you. Though we are diseased with sin, Jesus sees past it. He sees your hurting heart. He sees your desire to be loved. He sees your want to love others. And so he gives you his love. How you can fully, freely, faithfully pour love into others without Jesus’ love, Jesus’ forgiveness, Jesus’ faithfulness poured into you. Jesus knowing your need, with love in his heart, with the proof of that love in his nail scared hands says to you, “Be clean.” And he means it. And you are. You have a capacity for loved filled and fueled by Jesus.
Jesus, this is so great, let’s go back into the Bible again...Jesus speaks to you in your love language. The Bible is filled with each of the Five Love Languages so you feel and know you’re loved!
- To the Words of Affirmation person, Jesus speaks your love language with these words, “As the Father has loved Me, so have I love you.” (John 15:9)
- To the Quality Time person, Jesus speaks your love language with these words, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
- To the Gifts person, Jesus speaks your love language as He tells you He has given you an “inheritance that can never perish spoil, or fade.” (1 Peter 1:4)
- To the Acts of Service person, Jesus speaks your love language, “I am the Good Shepherd [who] lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
- To the Physical Contact person, Jesus speaks your love language with the image of Him embracing you in heaven, “I will come back and take you to be with Me.” (John 14:3) “Your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:10)
Christ Jesus loves you how you love to be loved...and oh how good it feels! Love others that way! Find out how your significant other, your parents, your siblings, your children love to be loved and then show them love in their love language...not in yours! Listen to them. What they complain about or what they request of you reveals how they want to be loved. Love them that way. Fill their love tank to fuel them in their love back to you. And don’t make them guess how you love to be loved. Tell them. Lovingly tell them and then show them how good it feels to be loved in your love language by loving them in theirs! Amen.