“Love your neighbor as yourself.” That seems like an easy enough directive, but how do we actually love one another? Dr. Gary Chapman, a Christian counselor, speaker and author, has a wonderful book called the The Heart of the Five Love Languages. In his book, Dr. Chapman proposes that we express love in basically five ways:
- Gift Giving
- Spending Quality Time
- Physical Touch
- Acts of Service
- Words of Encouragement
I think most of these are self explanatory, but if you would like a brief description of each click here.
Dr. Chapman refers to these five ways of expressing love as “love languages.” He proposes that everyone tends to have a primary language. That primary language is the one that they best respond to and most like to use. That makes sense. You are going to show people that you love them by acting toward them in a way that makes you feel love. Expressing our love using our primary love language can be problematic or at least less than effective, if someone else has a different love language. For example, may by you love giving and receiving gifts. You decide you want to show your best friend that you care for them on their birthday, so you go out and get two or three presents for them. You are so excited to give them the gifts. You can’t wait to see their reaction. You have really thought long and hard about gifts that would be meaningful and their reaction is thankful, but not what you had expected. Their love language happens to be quality time and their hope was that the two of you would get to spend the day together. When a scenario like that happens what we have is a love language failure to communicate. The key to most effectively loving someone is to use their primary love language.
Take some time and think about what really helps you feel loved. What do you think is your primary love language? What about the people around you? What about your spouse, kids, or neighbors? If you are uncertain about your love language visit Dr. Chapman’s 30 second assessment by clicking here. Experiment with the five love languages. Pick someone whom you would like to show your love to. Make your best guess as to what their love language is and then express your love to them in that way. I have found Dr. Chapman’s concepts about love languages to be a very practical way to begin more effectively loving the people near me. For that reason I am making The Heart of the Five Love Languages my recommended resource.
Blessing to you from the Practical Disciple as you seek to grow in Christ’s love.
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