As Christians, we love to talk about love languages in marriage. We love to encourage spouses to speak the others love language, and sacrifice the way we naturally communicate love for the sake of making our spouse feel loved. Sacrifice is love, in marriage.
You know the love languages, right? If not, a quick Google search can help that.
There’s “acts of service,” “words of affirmation,” “quality time,” “gifts,” and “physics touch.”
One of these is the primary way we receive/feel (and even give) love. Maybe there’s a little combo of two, or a primary and a secondary, but one of these probably speaks the loudest to each of us.
And like I said, we Christians LOVE this in marriages. We want husbands and wives to have great Christian marriages that speak each other’s love language.
And don’t get me wrong – that’s so good. Yes and amen. Do that.
But when it comes to those outside the church, we are told there’s only one way to love people: tell them the “truth.”
(Which, side note, is supposed to be the gospel but we tend to think it’s telling them about their sin)
But in doing so, we often refuse to acknowledge that sacrificial love for these people like Jesus has for us (cough, and them) would be to love them in ways that make them feel and know our love for them. Not the way we think we should love them (re: correcting their behavior so they can go to heaven, which is already bad theology… I the scriptures often used to justify correcting those outside the church are actually, in context, about judging those IN the church but I’ll save that for another day).
If we want people to feel loved, and to know the loving-kindness of a God who, yes, says “Go and sin no more,” but only AFTER He says, “Then neither do I condemn you” maybe we could try, oh, I don’t know…
Taking the time to get to know them, find love in our hearts for them, and then use our knowledge of their personhood to communicate that love to them?
Why do we only care about loving people the way they want to be loved and will receive that love in the confines of our idols (yes, marriage. Yes, family. Yes, church)? Isn’t it just as important to do that to everyone else that has yet to discover the love of Christ?
Do we really think our God is so small to only speak love one way: “truth?” Or can we open our hearts, eyes, and minds to see that He speaks to each of us in ways He knows we can and will hear Him, loving us to the point of ultimate sacrifice while we were still dead in our sin? And allow our hearts to be inspired to be more like Him, and to go out and love the people of this world like He does, sacrificing our agendas and wills and thoughts and opinions about their lives and decisions, in order to offer them love first? And just tackle the rest later?
I’d encourage you, if you know the love languages, next time you’re ministering to someone, and you want to convey love to them (this should be a given), find out how they’ll receive it first. And then offer it.
Because no one feels loved when they’re being shamed or backed into a corner first.