Today Pastor Choi talks about the languages people use to convey their love messages to each other based on Gary Chapman’s sermon tape. Pastor Choi begins with his own definition of love languages: love languages are the means of communication to say “I love you” to each other. They are the languages that the recipients of love would understand in the ways that the givers mean. They are languages that would instantly register our love messages in the hearts of the recipients. Then, the sermon explores the following five love languages (defined by Gary Chapman): words of affirmation, gifts giving, quality time, physical touch, and acts of service.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
“Five Love Languages”—based on Gary Chapman’s tape
1 Corinthians 8:1b
“Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up.”
- Everyone lives on love: Everyone wants to be loved. Everyone, in fact, needs to be loved. We are creatures of love. We live on love; when we are loved, we thrive. When we are not loved, we wither. We give one another love and we receive love from others.
- How are we doing in this business of loving one another? Why do we see so many people clamoring for love? Why are there so many people, children and adults alike, deprived of love? They don’t receive love; therefore, they have nothing to give. Or, they don’t give love to others, so they don’t receive love back. Everyone wants to be loved. We need love.
- How do you say it? So, if you want to love someone, let’s say, by saying ‘I love you,’ how do you communicate your love message to the recipient? Just say it, you may think. But, have you ever wondered that whatever you have said doesn’t always register in the person’s heart in the way you meant? In other words, you need to say the love message in the ways that the recipient would surely understand it. We need to communicate in the same language between the giver and the recipient.
- E.g. If I speak to you “I love you,” in Korean, 100 times until my face becomes blue, you still won’t be able to understand what I am saying, because the Korean language is not your language of communication. You would have no idea what I am talking about. However, if I say “I love you,” in English, everyone here would get it right away, simply because it is your language. It registers immediately in your heart. The key is the means of communication. The means to convey our love to each other. I would call them love languages.
- Credit to Gary Chapman: That’s the topic for today: the love languages we use daily. I must give a proper credit here to the person who coined this terminology: love languages. His name is Gary Chapman. He came up with his theory that there are five different love languages people use daily. About three years ago, my wife and I listened to an old sermon tape (18 years old to be exact) by him. The sermon was very entertaining and informational that improved my marriage in understanding and practice. My sermon this morning is heavily based on the tape that I heard. I pray that my message would help every one of you to build up your relationships with spouses and children. I also believe if you practice these love languages well, it will improve the relationships with friends, neighbors, and even coworkers.
- Definition of love languages: Before I dig deeper, let me repeat what I mean by love languages: Love languages are the means of communication to say “I love you” to each other. They are languages that the recipients would understand in the ways that the givers mean. They are languages that would instantly register our love messages in the hearts of the recipients.
- Emotional Tank: Note here that Chapman mostly focuses on the emotional aspect of love and how-to’s thereof (in other words, the more important spiritual side such as ‘God’s love poured out into our hearts’ [Romans 5:5] or ‘love does no wrong to a neighbor’ [Romans 13:10] are not covered in his message. Neither will I cover that this morning).
- This is how it goes with the emotional aspect of love: Each individual has his or her emotional tank that is filled up with love. For instance, if someone loves you by saying, “You are wonderful,” then it increases the level of love in your tank. If someone spends a quality time with you, you feel loved and the level of love in your tank rises up as well. Out of that reservoir, you are able to give love to someone else in your life. In these languages, people communicate with each other, build up each other in love, and help each other feel loved. When these languages are practiced faithfully by couples in marriage, especially in a troubled marriage, their marriages can be healed and even thrive.
- Five Love Languages: Chapman identifies five languages. I encourage you to follow along my sermon outline that is printed on your bulletin. The first language of love is “Words of Affirmation.”
- Words of Affirmation: Here are some examples of words of affirmation: “I Love You.” “You look great today!” “You did a fantastic job!” “You’re the best!” “You are beautiful!” “You’re awesome!” The list goes on. Many of us are fluent in this love language. However, some of us are not so good at this, so we say nothing to our loved ones. Some of us are so poor on this language that we end up saying hurtful things to our children and spouses. E.g. One father would say to his son, “You, no good bum!” This became a permanent scar in the son’s emotions for the rest of his life. E.g.2. Faramir who yearned for his father’s affirmation to no avail in “the Lord of the Rings.” E.g. 3. One night, after the political rally on their campaign trail, George W. Bush drove home late with his wife Laura sitting next to him. Still his truck running in front of his garage, he asked Laura, “What do you think of my speech tonight?” Laura obviously didn’t give him the highest mark, and he was so upset that he drove his truck into the garage wall.
- Gifts Giving: Clearly this is the language some people are very familiar with. They are the masters of remembering special days and events in your life. They would never fail to give you flowers/cards/presents. E.g. One husband would save up money for five years to buy a diamond ring for his wife on their every fifth anniversary. The wife was really appreciative of that she still talks about it years later. For someone with this language, if you don’t give gifts to her/him, guess how s/he would feel about the relationship. Love deprived. Love missing. Unloved.
- Quality Time: I don’t have to tell you about the importance of spending time together. Out of sight out of mind. When you spend time with your loved ones, be sure to give undivided attention to each other. E.g. I have seen a married couple eating T.V. dinners watching evening news on T.V. No communication. Nothing to talk about. Nowadays, young couples communicate with smartphones even in their beds. It is very important for parents to spend quality time together with their children. E.g. 2. A son was a star quarterback in his high school football team. His dad never showed up at his son’s games, not even once. So, next time, if your son wants to play a game with you, don’t refuse. Drop everything and play with him. One thing is for sure: You will fill up his emotional tank and he will remember it for a long time.
- Physical Touch: This one includes sex/hugs/holding hands. Some of us love hugs. Others avoid hugs by all means, because physical touch is not their thing. But, there’s a sure merit to it. Even Jesus gave a special blessing to the children by laying his hands on each of them. E.g. Miura Ayako (Japanese novelist and Christian author): right after WWII, in her 20s and she was still single, she contracted tuberculosis that attacked her spine (known as caries of the spine or Pott disease). Because of that condition, she was confined to bed for 13 years, “seven of them in a body cast that restricted all movement” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayako_Miura). During this time, she married a wonderful Christian Miura Mitsuyo. In her books, she wrote about her marriage life: basically, devoid of all sexual relationships, yet holding her hand with her husband sufficed her need of love.
- Acts of Service: Simply put, this means, “Talk is cheap. Show me your action!” Husband can say to his wife a million times, “I love you.” Wife replies, “If you truly love me, help me with house chores.” “Here’s the vacuum cleaner!” The Bible puts this way: “Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action” (1 John 3:18). It also puts this way in James: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?” (James 2:14-16)
- Case Study: pastor couple of 17 years of marriage. Their love languages were different: Husband’s was Words of affirmation. Wife’s was Gifts. For their entire marriage, each one would speak to the other in their own love language instead of the other’s, so they always felt that something was missing in their unfulfilled marriage. For instance, to make her husband happy, the wife would buy gifts for him on every single special occasion: birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas. He always thought that those gifts were a waste of money. What about the other side? The husband thought that his wife needed words of affirmation so he would tell her everyday how much she meant to him; how precious and beautiful she was. All the words of affirmation without buying one single gift! This practice went on for 17 years! Then, one day, they discovered their language differences, so they started communicating in their spouse’s language, rather than in their own: the wife now tells her husband how great the sermon was on Sundays. The husband begins to get something special for his wife. So, their marriage has improved and they are still married.
- My family: Mine: words of affirmation. My wife: acts of service [results are important]. My daughter: quality time. She cherishes every moment we spend time together. She still talks about all the Bed Time Stories I told her many nights, and also remembers the times that we watched movies together.
- Action points: Remember this: these love languages work and work well only if when each of us practices them out of a sincere and selfless heart. Otherwise, when ill-practiced, it will turn out as another expression of selfish desires we clamor.
- This week, take some time to analyze your loved ones’ complaints, identify their love languages, and start loving them in their love languages in order to fill up their emotional tanks. Before long, they will start giving back the love to you, and you will see the positive changes in your relationships.
- Let’s pray.