If the Beetles song isn’t playing in your head by now….I’m not doing my job. (Love is all you neeeeeeeeed…)
It might sound mushy or cliche, but at the end of the day, that is what we’re all looking for. As humans, we have a deep desire to love and be loved by others. We want to know that love is possible and that it lasts. Which raises the question…why are we so bad at it?
You don’t have to be a sociologist to see that our world is not good at love. In fact, humanity is marked by acts of selfishness and unkindness. We’d love to separate ourselves from this, but the truth is, we all fail at love sometimes. None of us have to look that far back in our week before remembering our last selfish or unkind moment.
It sounds really great when you sing about it, but the reality of love is that it’s hard. Consider the love of Jesus. He made himself of no reputation, became like us, and died the shameful death of a criminal (Philippians 2). His sacrifice was the most powerful act of love in human history, and there was nothing easy about it.
That’s the kind of love we have been called into, the love that dies to itself. This love thinks more highly of other people than itself. It sacrifices, knowing the cost and the purpose. Because true love, the kind of love that Jesus displayed, brings with it the power of his death and resurrection.
So how do we love each other well? How can we be more like Jesus?
Well one of the most practical ways we can love others is by considering how to communicate love. Gary Chapman wrote a wonderful book on this called The Five Love Languages. If you haven’t read this book, go check it out! This book captures what many of us have experienced. We all give and receive love in different ways. Sometimes, if we don’t feel loved by our loved ones, it’s because we don’t understand their expressions of love.
For example, if you feel loved through words of affirmation, you thrive on encouragement. Someone telling you that you did a good job or that they value you means the world. But maybe those things don’t make your spouse feel loved. Maybe they feel loved through gifts. You can see how quickly, this could become hard for both people. One person keeps giving encouragement, hoping to get some back. Instead, they receive gifts, which don’t make them feel loved. It’s a downward spiral.
Here’s the catch–our human nature will do damage, even with the knowledge of love languages. Once we understand what the problem is, we can find ourselves demanding that our loved ones observe our love languages. That is not the purpose, and it is not the love of Jesus. Love happens when we consider others’ needs before our own. What does that look like for you today? Does your spouse need a gift? Does that family member thrive on a word of your encouragement?
We can’t control how other people show love. All we can control is our own love. So brothers and sisters, let’s love well. Let’s love like Jesus.