You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:9–12 (NLT)
In these verses, Jesus shows us a picture of the love of God the Father. He is not selfish, begrudging, or stingy, and we don’t have to beg or grovel as we come with our requests. He is a loving father who understands, cares, and comforts.
Love languages aren’t the same thing as a love package as I have been describing it. However, they are probably components in the brightly wrapped packages that we have labeled “love.”
In his book The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman states that people express and receive love in different ways: quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Dr. Chapman states: “If we wish to love each other, we need to know what the other person wants.”
Problems begin when we receive love in ways that don’t match up with love as we have come to define it. We don’t recognize it as love—it must be something else, but we’re not sure what it is. And if we give our own love language to others, and theirs definitions don’t match up with ours, they don’t receive it as love. In The Five Love Languages Gary Chapman states:
“. . . Every child has certain basic emotional needs that must be met if he is to be emotionally stable. Among those emotional needs, none is more basic than the need for love and affection, the need to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted. . . . I liked the metaphor the first time I heard it. “Inside every child is an ‘emotional tank’ waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally, but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty love tank.”
Imagine the kindest human father you can, and multiply it exponentially to imagine how loving God, the Creator of love, can be.
In the verses above, Jesus said that “sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children.” How has your sinful nature affected the love you give to your children and loved ones?
What limits or human expectations have you used to define what love looks and acts like?
How have you wrapped and packaged love?