“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:36-40).
In his book, “The 5 Love Languages,” Dr. Gary Chapman describes five ways people express love.
These five “love languages” are acts of service, quality time, gifts, physical touch and words of affirmation.
Chapman believes that everyone has a primary and secondary way that they best receive and experience love.
For instance, compliments (words of affirmation) might make you feel special, or maybe you don’t care about praise, but spending some one-on-one time with a person makes you feel loved.
In most cases, people also express love to others using their primary or secondary love language.
If your love language is acts of service, you might clean the house or do the dishes to express your love to your spouse.
But Chapman noticed an interesting phenomenon in his research: Married couples rarely have the same love languages. This can lead to husbands and wives feeling unloved, even though they are trying to express their love.
For instance, a husband whose love language is gifts might give gifts to his wife whose primary love language is quality time. The gifts are nice, but all the wife wants is for her husband to spend some time with her.
So the key is communication, and Chapman encourages married couples to discover their mate’s primary love language in order to best give and receive love.
Learning love languages also has applications outside our close circle of family and friends. It is a useful tool as we follow Jesus’ command to love God and love our neighbors.
When you set out to love where you are, pay attention to how your neighbors express love themselves.
If you have a neighbor who seems to like to help others out (acts of service), try to return the favor. Mow his lawn or take in his garbage cans.
Or maybe he’s the type who likes to talk. Instead of rushing inside as you see him walking toward the chain-link fence, spend some quality time listening to his stories.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
>What is your primary and secondary love language?
>How can you do a better job of expressing love to people in your life?
>Why do you think loving your neighbors is so important?