There is much written on the 5 Love Languages. I’ve read the book, articles about the book, heard sermons, and it comes up in daily conversations. The original book written by Gary Chapman was published in 1992 and has sold millions of copies. The premise is that we all give and receive love differently and that we should aim to love those closest to us in the love language they can receive best. While there are certainly some good takeaways from this book, I think as a culture we are measuring our attempts at loving against these 5 Love Languages, instead of against Scripture.
First Corinthians 13 is the ‘love chapter’ in Scripture. So if we are going to measure ourselves it would be a good idea to start there.
1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
This sounds really important! I can live my entire life faithfully, flawlessly, sacrificially, and with great talent, but if I don’t have love it means nothing. So. Much. Wow! Let that sink in. That means I could love my spouse with Acts of Service, Gifts, Time, Physical Touch, or Words of Affirmation and if I don’t have LOVE then it’s all for nothing. If that’s the case, then I want to seek after what it means to actually love…like it’s gold.
4 Love is patience
Patience can only be developed in the laboratory of frustration. This is why we need frustrations in our lives. When I was a young mother I was a very impatient mother. I thought I had a great deal of love for my children. I certainly had a great deal of affection for them. But I had little patience. I still remember the day when I read this verse and realized that in all of the moments I was impatient with them I was not loving them. Over the years I began to see that as I was showing patience I was honoring them. Patience is the way of love.
love is kind
Kindness is a desire to do good for another. The dictionary says kindness is, “a good or benevolent nature or disposition. Having, showing or proceeding from benevolence. Indulgent considerate or helpful.” I think it would also include “without an agenda.” Love is kind without knowing the return on investment. Kindness is so powerful that it is love even in the face of opposition.
and is not jealous;
Jealousy is characterized by resentment over another person’s success. Do I want the success of someone who has taunted me? Do I want good to the one who has hurt me? I will sometimes struggle here. But then I remember that sometimes ‘success’ and ‘goodness’ come in the form of hard knocks, when they come to teach life lessons. I’ve had a few of my own hard knocks and they have been good to me. I remember we all have our own stories and someone else’s success is not a part of my good story.
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
There is a difference between bragging and sharing your blessing. Bragging is taking the credit and one-upping others. It’s about your own greatness. But walking in humility is about understanding your blessings and giving credit to the One who has given all good gifts.
5 does not act unbecomingly;
Unbecoming isn’t a word we use much anymore. It means inappropriate, ill-suited, inapt, incorrect, unacceptable. Love acts in a way that is considerate of others.
it does not seek its own,
Love does not manipulate others for its own desires. When I make requests of others, it needs to be clear of all expectation. They need to be free to say yes or no, without repercussions. I still believe that I can seek my own desires. It’s more that I can’t put that on someone else with coercive tactics.
is not provoked,
Love acts, it does not react. It does not make a decision based on fear, anger, or grief. It determines the way of goodness and moves toward it.
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
Wounds are deep and painful. I want to protect my wound so it heals and so that I don’t get hurt again. But Love steps into truth and moves toward what is right. Sometimes that means to forgive and forget. Other times that means we say ‘no more’ for the sake of everyone involved.
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
Lies are death. Truth honors. Truth honors my pain, my experience, and my humanity. It sets me free to be exactly who I was created to be; imperfectly perfect.
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
All things. After going through this list of what love is and what it is not, it now states Love does ‘all things.’ Love bears in patience and kindness. It believes in patience and kindness. It hopes in patience and kindness. And it endures in patience and kindness. Do I?
8 Love never fails;
Never is a very deep promise. It’s a promise I can stand on. Remembering that Love doesn’t always change my situation and it doesn’t always change another person. But when I have loved well, it will never fail to change me.