You know the love languages book? The one with 5 love languages that teaches you how to express your love better by Gary Chapman? Great book, I read the original and really enjoyed it. They also have one adjusted for parents as well as one for employers, and a slew of others. Well the premise of the whole idea is that there are 5 love languages through which we all interpret love and express love: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.
So take receiving gifts, if that were my love language, I would feel markedly loved and appreciated when someone bought me a thoughtful gift, likewise I would most readily gravitate toward gift giving when I want to express my love toward someone else. More often than not, spouses have different love languages and can often times be expressing love, but the other spouse is not receiving the love. Very interesting and helpful in understanding the expression of love in relationships; I encourage you to check out the quiz or the book, but what I want to dig in to today is not our love languages, but God’s.
So how does God most readily receive our love? Or put another way, how can we best show love to God? In the context of the 5 love languages, would it be:
- words of affirmation (praise prayers: “You are so awesome Lord” or “You are Holy God”)
- acts of service (doing things like serving in preschool or preparing meals for a needy family)
- receiving gifts (tithing, generosity)
- quality time (“quiet time”, individual or group Bible study, prayer)
- physical touch (not quite sure this is even an option right now)
Before we are too quick to pick one or all of the above, let us remember the Pharisees, who prayed praising words to God, who gave to the needy, who tithed, and who spent copious amounts of time in the Word. Yet they were chastised for these very things (Matthew 6).
For the Lord, there is a different medium: the heart. While we cannot see motive and cause behind an action, the heart behind an act or deed, God can.
The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7b)
Well shoot. If the Lord looks at the heart and determines and evaluates my love for Him based on my heart, then I am a goner. Because if He sees my heart, then He knows:
- The pride I feel and credit I take when commended on words He empowered me to speak in the first place, be it a good Bible study lesson, a poignant word of encouragement to someone else, or even an eloquent group prayer.
- The begrudging attitude I hold when I volunteer for a service I feel others should be doing.
- The annoyance I feel when the Spirit is leading me to financially help yet another person.
- The resentful mindset I hold when reading the Bible, when all I want to do is something else.
While the outward appearance of those things (a beautiful prayer; volunteering to serve; generosity financially; and time in the Word) could fool any human (including myself) God is not fooled. He looks at the heart. And my heart is wicked, wrought with sin and self-promotion and selfishness and entitlement; in everything. So is yours.
So not only will our actions not do, but our hearts, even on our best days, will not do.
Yet, He still pursues.
When we run away from His calling (Jonah) … He pursues.
When we are so far gone, there is no life in us at all (Israelites as dry bones in Ezekiel 37) … He pursues.
When we say no to His calling, insecure in our inability (Moses in Exodus 4) … He pursues.
When we throw someone else under the bus to save our own necks (Abraham in Genesis 12 & 20) … He pursues.
When we run away because of failure or perceived failure (Elijah in 1 Kings 19) … He pursues.
When we deceive and trick others for personal gain (Jacob in Genesis 27) … He pursues.
When we disregard God’s specific instruction and do what we think is best (Isaac trying to bless Esau when God told Him Jacob will be the inheritor in Genesis 25 & 27) … He pursues.
When we are in blatant opposition to God, against Him in every way (Saul/Paul in Acts 8 & 9) … He pursues.
When we fight for our own fame, or platform, or stage, or greatness (The disciples in Luke 9 & 22) … He pursues.
When we act cowardly and don’t evangelize or bring Christ to the conversation as we should (Peter in Luke 22) … He pursues.
He pursues, He pursues, He pursues.
This is the story of the Bible: His constant pursuit.
THIS is His love language: pursuit.
But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Now, when He looks at your heart, He sees Christ’s heart—the only one that was perfect and blameless. This is the lens He sees you through.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses… God made alive together with Him… by canceling the record of debt that stood against us… This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved… And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2: 1-9)
And because of His great love, that continually pursues and pulls us out of muck and mire, we can pursue Him and love Him and have our great longings filled, our great discontentments satisfied; all because of His love.
“Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself… Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you. (1 Samuel 12: 20-22, 24)