A few years ago the book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman was published and has become a staple resource for churches and relationship counselors nationwide. The five love languages include: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. The book talks about how we, as individuals express and receive love. By learning our own and other’s love language we are able to experience and express love at a deeper level.
When my husband and I got married, my love language was acts of service and his was physical touch. After eighteen years of marriage our love languages have changed, matured and grown as we have grown in relationship with each other and with God.
But what about our relationship with God? In Mathew 22:37 Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” But what does that look like on an individual basis? How do we as flawed, fallen human beings, express back to God the love he shows to us? If there are different ways to express and receive love as human beings, aren’t there different ways to express our love back to God?
The way we worship God in our everyday lives is our love language to God. God is the very essence and definition of love. The only way to effectively worship and love God back is to desire, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be more like his son Jesus every day. Worship is not just what we do on Sunday, the Lord loves our clapping, dancing, singing and rejoicing in his name on Sunday, but he desires a much deeper response. True worship is our response to what Jesus did for us on the cross. It encompasses and transforms the way we live our lives every day. Nothing can replace the intimate time we spend with him in our daily devotional time, but here are five practical ways we can worship the Lord throughout our daily walk: practicing forgiveness, being grateful, sacrificing, giving and obedience.
Forgiveness is a really big deal to God. It is the reason he sent Jesus to suffer and die to ultimately pay the price of our sin so that we can be forgiven and reconciled with God. Some people have a false perception of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the other person who committed the offense, but for us. It does not excuse their behavior or let them “off the hook”, but takes us out of the equation and lets God deal with them on His terms. Holding anger, bitterness and unforgiveness is like taking a poison pill and expecting the other person to suffer. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves, which can make us physically ill, poison our perspective and block our relationship with God. Choosing to forgive others and ourselves is a great way to show love to our heavenly Father.
Be grateful! No matter how bad your circumstances may be, there is always something to thank God for. There is an old hymn that my grandmother used to sing to me. The refrain says “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings and see what God has done!” God loves us right where we are but loves us too much to leave us there. Growth and change can be painful, but He is doing a mighty work in us. Trusting him and maintaining a mindset of being grateful for what we have, frees us from comparing, coveting and envying others. Having a grateful heart reminds us of the great things he has done and allows to feel rich in our blessings. Give praise to God and thank him daily for the many blessings in your life.
In a culture steeped in entitlement and materialism, sacrifice is a difficult concept. To live a life devoted fully to our Lord and Savior will cost you everything. “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeits their soul?” Mark 8:36. Some people choose to believe the gospel and just be saved or as some might say have “fire insurance” and go on with their plan for what they think is “the good life.” When we fully place our trust in Jesus and allow him to be the Lord of our lives, a divine exchange takes place. We take all of our hopes, dreams and desires for our lives and place them on the altar as a sacrifice to God. In exchange, God replaces our flawed plans with his divine plan for our lives.
Like a master builder, God creates each one of us with a special plan and purpose to take part in building his kingdom. You would not use a screwdriver to dig a hole any more than we can function in a way that we were not made for. Following God’s blueprint for our lives is so much better than anything we could ever come up with on our own! It is His grand adventure that he had planned for you since before time began. When we sacrifice our lives to God and follow his plans for us, we show him that we truly love and trust him.
Giving is another way to show God that we love him. When we come to understand that everything we think we own is simply on loan from God, we begin to let go of our false perception of having control. None of us drive a U Haul to heaven; it all belongs to God! “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matt 6:20. It makes God smile when his children share their blessings.
Giving doesn’t always mean money or material things. Tithing is important, not because God needs our money, but because it keeps us from making it an idol. God wants us to give in other ways too. It can be time, knowledge, talents, skills, encouragement, your life experiences or your testimony. There are two things that will endure through eternity, the word of God and the love we share with the people he puts in our lives. When we invest in others through giving, God feels our love.
Obedience is a key element in our Christian walk and our relationship with God. “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28. If you are a parent, you can relate to how important it is for children to obey. When my daughter was a toddler, she loved to run everywhere, even if it was out into the street! As a result, she wore a harness to restrain her until she understood the danger and demonstrated some self-control.
As children of the living God, we must trust the boundaries that God set for us in his word. He does not give us rules and commands because he wants to “ruin our good time”, but because he loves us and in his infinite wisdom is trying to protect us. Obedience gives us joy, confidence and freedom to operate and to grow in our relationships with others and with God within safe boundaries. The Bible is a great reference manual how to handle anything that life can throw at you. Playing the game by the rules makes God proud of his kids!
When you love someone you express that love in many ways. Not because you feel obligated or coerced, but because you want to warm their heart and make them smile. Our relationship with God is the same. God loves us with an infinite and immeasurable love. The bible says that there is NOTHING that can separate us from his great love for us. As his children, it can be overwhelming to think about how we can express such a love back to our heavenly Father. We can get caught up in doing something for God out of obligation, to try and win his approval or because we think we “should”. Our daily acts of worship should be a response to his great love for us.
These are only a few suggestions of how we can express our love back to God. The five love languages are all about how we like to be loved and how others like to be loved. God encompasses all these and more. As an act of worship, you can choose to forgive someone, count your blessings, sacrifice your time, give to a needy family and obey God’s word. Have you considered how you can bless God’s heart and make Him smile today?
– Renee McCormick