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The 7 Love Languages of God

The love languages of God
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Jesus Christ)

In 1992, radio talk show host and church elder Gary Chapman published The Five Love Languages, which sold more than 100,000 copies within a few years. The book experienced a resurgence at the turn of the century and made the New York Time’s Best Seller list from 2009 to 2013. A premise of The Five Love Languages is that people give and receive love in different ways. According to Gary Chapman, the five most common love languages are: 1-) words of affirmation (compliments); 2-) quality time; 3-) receiving gifts; 4-) acts of service; and 5-) physical touch.

Just as it pays to be intentional about how we love people, the same is true of how we love God. Fortunately, we don’t have to speculate about the kinds of thoughts and actions that bring God joy. In this article, I outline seven such examples–faith, prayer, honor, obedience, gratitude, worship, and charity. The above have a rich pedigree in the Christian faith and enjoy near universal appeal.

This list is nowhere near exhaustive. But if we want to express love to God we can start by communicating in one or a number of the following languages:

1. The Language of Faith

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

While Christians believe that God created the world and plays an active role in the maintenance of creation, we cannot physically see him. And so we must accept his existence, like the existence of other things we cannot see (e.g., gravity), by faith. Faith, in short, enables us to connect with the unseen. It is the doorway to a relationship with God, which God derives satisfaction from as a personal being.

Faith is the premise of the other six love languages—prayer, honor, obedience, gratitude, worship, and charity—and is itself a virtue that evidences a heart in proper alignment with the truth. We do not have faith merely that God exists, but that he is as he has revealed himself to be through prophets (most notably Jesus Christ), in nature, and in our private walk with God.

2. The Language of Prayer

Conversations have the power to build trust, create meaning, and engage others. Conversations allow for learning and provide a basis for understanding to occur. Therefore to relate to Abba as Father, we must be willing to dedicate ourselves to communicating with God.

Matthew Stevenson

Prayer delights God’s ear; it melts His heart; and opens his hand.

Thomas Watson

As personal beings, we use words to communicate and build relationships with one another. And we use words to communicate and build a relationship with God. Prayer acknowledges Gods existence, expresses our dependence on him, connects us with his creation, fosters obedience, and is a means of repentance, restoration, gratitude and worship.

Prayerlessness means unavailability to God.

Lesley Duewel

Given that presence and availability are a prerequisite of love, it follows that prayer belongs atop of this list. Thanks to the Lord’s prayer set forth by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6), there is little uncertainty as to the kinds of prayers that bring God glory and satisfaction.

3. The Language of Honor

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Matthew 6:9

For those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

1 Samuel 2:30

The word hallow means “to revere” or “to honor.” In the opening lines of the Lord’s prayer, we are enjoined to pray that God’s name would be honored, i.e., held in great esteem or high regard. We honor God with our words, but also our actions. In fact, to honor God with our words but not our actions is the essence of hypocrisy and taking the Lord’s name in vain. We honor God in an area when we think, speak, and act as he would have us to do. 

4. The Language of Obedience

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

John 14:21

This item is perhaps the most uncontroversial, because Jesus specifically outlined obedience as a behavior that elicits love from God. For a “love language” to work, its expression must be consistent with the character and preferences of its object. Just as we cannot say “we love God and hate our brother” (1 John 4:20), we cannot say we love God and not do what he says. Otherwise, our love is defective, deceptive, or downright delusional.

5. The Language of Gratitude  

Were not ten [lepers] cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?

Luke 7:17-18

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James 1:17

Leprosy was a deadly disease in ancient Judea that was physically painful and socially alienating. Luke 17 tells the story of Jesus healing 10 lepers, who recovered their health as they went on their way. However, only one came back to say thanks. Jesus praises this man, who many Jews would have looked down on as a Samaritan, for his hearty expression of gratitude.

Gratitude is the natural, normal, and healthy response to being gifted something. Just as the thank-you note from the recipient of a gift brings joy to a human gift-giver, it does the same for God. On the other hand, failure to express gratitude owes to a lack of faith or character defect.

6. The Language of Worship

It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.”

Luke 4:8

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

Psalm 22:3

In Acts 16, Luke tells the story of Paul and Silas, who were imprisoned in Macedonia for their evangelistic activities. At midnight, while they were praying and “singing hymns to God,” the “there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened” (v. 25-26). The obvious implication is that their worship pleased God such that he took providential action on their behalf.

The following story in the Hebrew Bible has a similar moral:

And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.

(2 Chronicles 2:20-22)

I love an excerpt about worship from Abba: Experience God as Father and Redeem Your Failure, Hurt, and Pain by Matthew Stevenson. Matthew Stevenson is the senior pastor at All Nations Worship Assembly in Chicago, Illinois, and he had this to say:

Human beings respond to melodies, so songs help us have a conversation with God. However, if our worship of Abba only consists of singing songs, we are not worshipping Him at all. The word worship in the Hebrew is shachah, which means “to bow in respect and reverence.” If our lives are not bowed to the Holy Spirit in complete respect and reverence for Abba, then it does not matter how many slow songs we sing to him.

Matthew Stevenson

Stevenson concludes the section of his book on “Pursuing Intimacy” with a quote on worship from William Temple, the bishop of Canterbury:

Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose—all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.

William Temple

Enough said.

7. The Language of Charity

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

Matthew 25:37-40

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

This one is another non-brainer. God is said to love a cheerful giver. While the immediate context was an offering being taken to alleviate the poverty of the Christian church in Jerusalem, the application is much broader. In the Gospels, Jesus names sharing food, clothes, hospitality, and spending time with the needy as prominent contemporary examples of charitable acts that please God. Maybe you can think of some uniquely modern ones.  

Freely you have received; freely give.

Matthew 10:8

Any father will tell you that few joys in life compare to that of seeing a child embody their virtuous attributes. As children of God, when our charity stems from a revelation of his generous character, it glorifies him.

the love languages of God
An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).

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