About thirty years ago, Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages, aimed at married couples who needed a little help learning to understand their mates and how to get along better. I have never read the book, but found the main idea online. The author posited the way we relate to our mates is through these five “languages”: acts of service, gift-giving, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. Learning our own love language and that of our spouse and then using those languages can help the relationship.
I’m not bringing this up because I want to give anyone relationship advice, well at least not the marital kind. I believe Chapman’s love languages can be carried over to all human relationships, as in the language of the Kingdom N.T. Wright talks about in his book, After You Believe, Why Christian Character Matters. Wright says that’s part of our purpose in this life – learning a new language of love to go along with the new creatures we are in Christ.
Rather than trying to figure out which one of these “love languages” we speak, we might do better to learn all of them, practicing acts of service to everyone (laying down our lives for others); giving gifts, especially of time, prayer, listening and patience; touching (everyone can use a hug or a friendly squeeze of the arm); giving the gift of quality time to others, rather than just a glance and a hasty judgment; and finally words of affirmation in the form of encouragement and building up through helpful, positive comments.
Learning a new language takes time, work and dedication, not to mention lots of practice. With enough of these, we can work to forget the coarse and sometimes grating language of this world and adopt the new one of God’s Kingdom