Our goal as a church is to produce a community of extraordinarily loving people who are the greatest among us. The Five Love Languages is the template for this five week series.
This week we turn to a different love language. I think a failure to pay attention to this love language probably kills more marriages, damages more families, and stagnates more friendships than any of the other love languages. I would say it’s the biggest challenge of our day.
- I will make my top relationships my top priority.
- I will ask those closest to me, “Are you getting enough of my time?”
- I will find activities to enjoy together with people I love the most.
- I will have conversations this week about how I’m doing at loving.
- I will become a student of the people around me to grow in love.
Full Sermon Script:
I had a conversation with a guy recently who told me he said the words, “I love you,” to that special someone for the very first time.
He shared the story about how it happened and when it happened. He couldn’t stop talking about it.
Through pictures, he said to me, “This is where I was standing. This is where she was standing. I said, ‘I love you.’ She said it back. She loves me.”
“I didn’t know she loved me before that. I thought she might, but I didn’t know. Because she’s so beautiful and so smart… she’s way out of my league. I didn’t know she loved me, but then she said it, and now I know.
“She’s the one. God made us for each other. We just kept saying it to each other over and over. ‘I love you.’ ‘I love you.’
“Then we had to leave, so when I got to my car, I called her, and we started saying it all over again — ‘I love you.’ ‘I love you.’ Can you believe two people would just babble that way like a couple of idiots?”
I said, “Based on what I’ve heard so far, yeah.”
The experience of falling in love is just so powerful. And when it happens, you can’t stop thinking about the person you love.
We talked last week about words. When you fall in love and have that experience, all you want to do is speak words of affirmation to each other.
There’s actually an entire book in the Old Testament called the Song of Solomon about this experience.
This is just part of it.
How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone. Song of Solomon 4:1-2
Your dental hygiene is fabulous.
Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate.
Your neck is like the tower of David, built with courses of stone; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. Your breasts are like two fawns… Song of Solomon 4:3-5
I’ll stop there because it gets kind of weird after that.
But then he ends with —
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song of Solomon 4:7
Verse 7 is a classic expression of someone who has just fallen in love.
“There is no flaw. Now, I know theoretically — you’re not perfect. The fact that you’ve had 3 jobs in the last year might not just be about your love of variety… but the way my pulse races, the way my heart beats, the way my mind sings… overrides my normal thought patterns, and I find it inconceivable that we could ever fail to make each other happy.”
The feeling of falling in love is so powerful.
There’s another story in the Old Testament about a man named Jacob who fell so in love with a woman named Rachel that her dad said, “Jacob, you will have to work for me for 7 years and then you can marry Rachel.”
Not only did Jacob agree to that. The text says:
So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. Genesis 29:20
How many of you guys have experienced love like that?
It’s interesting when you look at biblical commands about what love does — this agape love that we talked about last week — and see how fast the person who has fallen in love jumps to do those things for the one they’ve fallen in love with.
The writer of Scripture says, “Comfort one another.”
Oh man, I would love to do that.
“Honor one another above yourselves.”
Open doors? I do that all the time.
“Don’t complain about one another.”
Wouldn’t dream of it.
“Serve one another.”
I lie awake at night thinking about ways to serve her.
“Forgive one another.”
There is nothing to forgive.
“Accept one another.”
I’ve never felt so accepted.
“Be devoted to one another in love.”
Hello… I do devotion recreationally.
“Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
I’m not sure what that means, but I’ll be glad to give it a try.
The condition of falling in love is often so powerful… it seems as though my old egocentric, self-centered, self-preoccupied, self-serving self has died… and I’ve become this noble person — like the Mother Teresa of love — “Not my will, but just whatever you will is what I want to do.”
Of course a love like that doesn’t last. It just doesn’t work that way.
It turns out… falling in love doesn’t actually save you from sin. Only Jesus can save you from sin.
Gary Chapman, the guy who wrote The Five Love Languages, writes that this falling in love phase typically lasts about 2 years.
That temporary emotional obsession is not able to create permanent character transformation.
Sooner or later, every couple has to face the real world…
where someone left the toilet seat up
where someone put the toilet paper on the wrong way
where someone deliberately put the milk carton back in the refrigerator with one tiny half swallow of milk left because they were too lazy to take it out to the recycling bin
It turns out there is a major difference between falling in love and growing in love.
Actually, the writers of Scripture never actually command anyone to fall in love.
There’s a myth in our day (we see it in most romantic comedies) that falling in love is salvation — that if you have not had the experience of falling in love, you’ve missed out on something essential to humanity.
But the writers of Scripture never talk about love that way. They never command anyone to fall in love; they talk about growing in love.
The apostle Paul writes to the church of Ephesus:
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us…”
The writer of Scripture says:
“We love because he first loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Paul says in another place:
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
“The entire law…”
People get confused about how there are all these laws in the Old Testament, and they think they’re just rules of severity or something.
No, they’re not. They’re all pointing to one thing. The whole law rightly understood points to one truth.
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
I would say Jesus, above everyone, understood God’s law correctly.
And he calls people to love — this kind of love that’s so powerful his followers had to find a new word to try to express it.
It’s to will and work for the good of everyone I come in contact with.
It is a way of life.
It is a condition of being that involves my whole self.
It involves my emotions (although it is not primarily a feeling).
It involves my will (although it is not something I simply choose to do).
It’s not just delighting in something or wanting something.
It is a way of life.
As a church, that’s what we’re about.
We’re not about getting smarter.
We’re not about a firm and right doctrine.
We’re not about being right and other people being wrong.
We’re not about being exclusive.
We’re simply about love.
That’s all we’re about. And we want to get better at loving, understood according to the life and teachings of Jesus.
We read from 1 Corinthians 13 last week, the great chapter Paul wrote. Again, I want to encourage everyone here to just live in that passage of scripture throughout this series.
Paul says these amazing words about love.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Everything minus love equals nothing.
Our goal is to produce a community of extraordinarily loving people who are the greatest among us.
We’re using the book “The Five Love Languages,” as a template for this series.
For some people, you most naturally receive love through Words of Affirmation.
For some, it’s through Quality Time.
For some, it’s really Gifts that make your heart skip.
For some, it’s Acts of Service.
For some, it’s Physical Touch.
The premise of the book is — don’t assume that what makes you feel loved is what will make me feel loved… because we all have different ways that we receive love.
Last week, we talked about how some people experience love best through Words of Affirmation.
I hope you practiced that using words of affirmation to express love last week. I also hope some of you used humble words like, “Will you forgive me,” to speak words of love.
I imagine for some of you, speaking words of love came easily. For others, it was probably more of a stretch.
Well, this week, we turn to a different love language. And I want to say this at the beginning.
I think a failure to pay attention to the love language we’re talking about today probably kills more marriages, damages more families, and stagnates more friendships than any of the other love languages.
I would say it’s the biggest challenge of our day.
It’s the language of Quality Time — letting you know I love you by spending time with you… and not just time but quality time.
What is quality time?
Gary Chapman writes,
By quality time, I mean giving someone your undivided presence, your whole self, your attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching TV together. I mean taking a walk or going out to eat and looking at each other and talking. — Gary Chapman
Have you ever noticed in a restaurant, you can tell the difference between a dating couple and a married couple?
Dating couples are looking at each other and talking.
Married couples are looking around the restaurant.
The master of expressing this kind of love through time and attention was Jesus.
Whatever you think about Jesus, whatever you might believe about his identity or divinity, if you just go through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) you’ll see — his ability to be fully present with people and give them the gift of focused attention just runs through the Gospels.
There was a woman at a well in Samaria, and Jesus’ disciples were quite sure he wouldn’t want to spend time with her.
She’s the wrong gender, wrong ethnicity, wrong religion. Yet, Jesus does want to spend time with her.
In fact, he has a longer conversation with this woman at a well in Samaria than he does with anyone else in any of the Gospels… and it changed her life.
Little children are brought to Jesus.
The disciples think Jesus is way too busy for them. They’re low on the status totem pole… but Jesus says, “Not at all. Let the little ones come. Bring them to me. I have time.”
There’s a story about a crooked tax collector no one would have liked named Zaccheaus.
He goes up in a tree to see Jesus… and Jesus actually goes up to him and says, “Zacchaeus, come down.”
Then he doesn’t say, “Clean up your act.” He says, “I’m coming to your house. I want to sit at your table. I want to meet your family.”
Jesus is the master of changing lives through the gift of time.
The main relationships where we learn from Jesus about how to master the gift of quality time is his inner circle, what became kind of his family.
There’s a statement that’s used to describe this. It’s so brief that we can easily miss the depth of it.
It’s in the gospel of Mark. Mark put it like this:
He appointed twelve that they might be with him… Mark 3:14
“He appointed twelve…”
These are the disciples, sometimes called the apostles.
And then Mark tells us what they were going to do, what their job was.
“…that they might be with him…”
Just that simple — be with him.
Well, a lot, actually:
when he taught
when he travelled
when he worked
when he ate
when he rested
when the crowds loved him
when the crowds left him
He was giving them the gift of his time.
Imagine receiving that from Jesus.
Now he wasn’t always happy with them. They actually made life more difficult for Jesus a lot of times, but here’s what you’ll never find. You will never find one of the disciples saying:
“Hey, Jesus, why don’t you spend quality time with us? Now that you’re famous with big crowds coming to see you, everyone calling you Messiah, speaking requests, healing campaigns, we never see you anymore.”
From the beginning when it was just the twelve of them through the intensity of when all the attention, and all the demands of an entire nation, and the weight of the world rested on Jesus’ shoulders, his disciples knew one thing — Jesus had time for them.
Because he knew the transforming power of time in the lives of his friends… and they mattered to him more than they could possibly imagine.
I want to draw 3 real simple lessons today from Jesus and his friends, from that inner circle. And then I want to put them into practice with you this week. I want to ask that everyone here put these into practice this week.
Love makes my top relationships my top priority.
Love understands a real important thing — that love is spelled T-I-M-E.
If you want to know where someone’s heart goes, just look at where their time goes.
Time is so precious to us. Time is such a limited commodity.
You can make more money; you can’t make more time.
I was talking to a business guy many years ago. A mutual friend had set it up. He was a real successful guy, but he was losing his family.
He had a wife and three kids, but he was always on the road, and when he was home, he had nothing left in the tank.
His comment about that to me was, “I’m doing it all for them. Why do they get mad at me? Why do they get frustrated with me? I’m doing it all for them.”
Really? Because they say they don’t want you to do that. They say they’d rather have more you and less money than more money and less you.
His response was so interesting. What he said was, “You know, when I bring home the money, they don’t say, ‘No,’ to it. When I bring them all the stuff money can buy — a nice house, nice cars, great clothes, great trips, great toys, they don’t say, ‘No.’ They’re only too happy to benefit from all that money I’m making out there.”
In other words, they would have to boycott his financial provision, they would have to say, “No,” to his stuff before he would stop saying, “I’m doing it all for them.”
Here’s the problem:
I may gauge my love for you by how I think I feel about you, but you will gauge my love for you by how I spend my time… because you can’t see how I feel. You can’t experience my heart.
I have to tell you, I’ve been with a lot of people on their death beds. I have yet to hear someone say on their death bed, “Bring out my resume so I can read it one last time. Let me review my financial portfolio. Let me check out that list of impressive achievements I’ve accomplished just one last time.”
They don’t care about those things… because those things don’t last, but love does.
That’s part of why Paul in that great chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, talks about love being so infinitely more valuable… because love is eternal.
What people want around them in their final moments are the ones they’ve loved. That’s it.
Jesus mastered love… and that meant he mastered time, and he wanted his friends to do the same.
I’ll tell you how devoted Jesus was to this. I find this very interesting.
Malcolm Gladwell writes about what he calls the 10,000-hour rule. Some of you have read about this. It has gotten a lot of attention in recent years.
The idea is that when it comes to mastering a demanding task or skill, we all want instant success, but it takes time.
If you want to master a skill like playing a violin, programming a computer, playing chess, doing surgery or hitting a curveball — 10,000 hours tends to be the magic number.
People who become great at doing something, people who become world class have generally put in at least 10,000 hours of devoted training, quite intense training.
Now, I was thinking about this when it comes to Jesus’ commitment to his disciples and what he was doing when he appointed 12 to be with him.
The writer of Scripture indicates that the disciples were with Jesus for about three years, as best we can discern.
Let’s assume they were with him 10 hours a day. Let’s say just for the sake of argument that they had maybe a couple of days off discipleship a month — sick days or PTO or something like that.
That would give them 341 days on the job every year.
3 years times 341 days a year times 10 hours a day ends up meaning they would have spent 10,230 hours with Jesus.
It’s kind of an interesting thing.
It takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. What skill were they mastering?
Well, when they hit the 10,000-hour mark right there at the end, Jesus told them:
A new command I give you: Love one another.
That’s the skill.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35
“Not because you’re so smart. Not because you’re so right. Love each other.”
Blue Oaks, we need to do what Jesus did.
Make your top relationships the top priority of your time.
This means I need to get real honest about my key relationships and where my time is really going.
This may mean spending some time this week asking those who are your most important relationships, “Are you getting enough of my time?”
I know that can be a scary question for a lot of us to ask.
In the early days of starting Blue Oaks I was working a lot more than I should have.
I had a conversation with my wife about our relationship and about where my time was going, and I asked her, “How do you feel about our relationship since I’m working so much?” and her immediate response was, “It’s not terrible.”
That’s better than terrible, but it’s kind of a low bar.
Jesus didn’t say, “By this, everyone will know you are my disciples if your relationships are not terrible.”
This is the key challenge with time:
I face this all the time. There is not enough time. There is just not enough. There is not enough time in your day to satisfy the demands that are placed on you — with work and friends and family and success and financial needs.
Very rarely at work will people come up to you and say, “Hey, we’ve achieved all we can through you. We’re going to keep paying you, but why don’t you cut back on your hours? Why don’t you spend more time at home with your family?”
Rarely do we hear that at the office.
There are always more emails to be answered, more stuff to be done, more projects to be finished.
Rarely do your kids say, “Hey, Mom, Dad. My little emotional tank is full. Why don’t you go work on your presentation for the office for the rest of the day?”
When it comes to time, you’re going to disappoint someone.
When it comes to time, you’re going to disappoint someone. Don’t make it be the people you want to love the most. Don’t make it them. You’re going to disappoint someone. Don’t make it them.
Now, for me, this meant Kathy and I would need to sit down with our calendars and actually write down those times when we’re committed to being together — just that clear and simple.
It also meant that for a period, I would (and I’ll do this periodically) need to actually write down the number of hours I work each day and the number of hours I was thinking about work each day to see if that was actually congruent with the life I want to live… where I’m giving the time needed to love the people who matter the most.
When it comes to your time, the challenge is just the same as when it comes to our money.
We have to get real concrete. Get out of fuzzy. Fuzzy is not your friend. Fuzzy will delude us into thinking things are okay when they’re not.
Get real clear on where your time is really going.
Write your commitments down in your calendar.
date night once a week
or family dinners five times a week
or a weekend away with my adult child
or going snowboarding with my daughter
or creating a multi-day annual event with lifelong friends from college
Get out of fuzzy with your time. Get real clear.
That leads to a second lesson from Jesus on quality time. Jesus makes his top relationships his top priority.
2. Find activities to enjoy together with people I love the most.
This is interesting. I had never thought about this before. I went through the Gospels this week and looked at some of the activities Jesus engaged in to be able to spend quality time with his disciples. There are a ton of them.
I want to run through a number of them with you.
The first one is going on walks.
All throughout his ministry, from his very first moments with his disciples after he called them to follow him, they went walking with him… to the end of his life after the resurrection, he goes on a seven-mile walk to Emmaus with a couple of disciples.
Taking a walk is so simple. It’s very low-cost. It’s very low-skill. I bet almost everyone here can do it.
It’s very high-connect.
Jesus did this so often that one of the ways the writers of Scripture described discipleship was — walking with Jesus. To love Jesus meant to walk with him.
“Do you want to go for a walk?” It’s so simple.
Another activity is eating together.
Again, so simple. Low-skill, low-cost.
Jesus did this a lot with people… just ate with them. He actually got in trouble a lot for who he ate with.
One important note. He usually did this without having the TV on.
One barrier to quality time in our day is screens. Have you noticed that?
Not long ago, at a meal, my body was at the same table with Kathy, but my attention was on my cell phone screen. I got a text, and it was from Kathy, and it read, “I’m sitting right here.”
Now, screens are good. Some of you design screens, sell screens. Screens are good, but screens are made for man. Man is not made for the screen.
Now, is texting together quality time? No, it’s not quality time.
Is checking email together? No, it’s not quality time.
Is watching television together? Well, it depends on what you’re watching. The real life drama of a NBA playoff game where you’re experiencing the back and forth and highs and lows, yes, of course it is.
If it’s The Bachelor, that’s unbiblical… so use discernment and common sense.
Another activity is learning together.
Jesus would often do this with the disciples.
Something happens in a relationship when we’re learning and experiencing growth together.
You can read the same book with someone and then talk about it together.
Another activity is running errands together.
One of the moments that most marked Jesus’ community was when he taught them something as unimportant as foot-washing, which none of them had time to do.
Actually, it wasn’t a barrier to kingdom work. It actually was kingdom work because kingdom work is about love, and if I’m too hurried to love, then I’m too hurried.
Because life is about love.
Another activity is resting.
Jesus said to his disciples one time when they were real busy and a lot of cool things were happening, “Let’s go away to a quiet place and rest.” And they did.
Another thing — riding in boats.
They would do that a lot.
Or mountain climbing.
I had never thought about this before, but we’re told about an amazing experience Jesus and his disciples have on top of a mountain one time. But I thought this week — they had to climb up there together.
Another thing — praying.
They do this in amazing ways.
They watch Jesus pray.
They went to the temple or synagogue, as was Jesus’ custom.
Another thing — fishing.
They do this at the beginning and the end.
Or something you may have never thought about before — car rides.
This is from Acts 2 — “And they were all together in one Accord,” the writer of Scripture says.
Okay, I thought that was funny.
Do you know what life is? Do you know what your life is?
Your life is a series of experiences. That’s what your life is.
We treasure some of them —
a beautiful sunset
hearing a wonderful piece of music
maybe accomplishing something
winning a championship
sharing a meal with someone special
Your life is a series of experiences.
I’ve talked about this before —
Intimacy is shared experience.
That’s what intimacy is. It’s shared experience.
Do you want to go for a walk?
Do you want to share a meal?
Do you want to get a cup of coffee?
That’s why inviting someone to share an experience is kind of a vulnerable thing… because it’s always an invitation into intimacy.
That’s part of why love has to offer a shared experience… with freedom.
When you feel pressure from someone, “I like this restaurant, so you better like this restaurant too, or I’ll be disappointed in you.” It can create so much damage without even hardly knowing why.
Your life is a series of shared experiences. That’s how God made you. And intimacy is shared experiences.
That’s what it means to have an intimate relationship with God — I invite him into the experiences of my life from one moment to the next.
You see, the language we use of having an intimate relationship with God has real content to it.
Think of someone you love.
What’s an activity you can invite them into that will create a shared experience this week?
Do you want to take a walk?
Do you want to share a meal?
Do you want to read a book together?
Love does that.
It’s real simple agape love that wills and acts for the good… especially with the people I love the most.
We choose to be with them.
Love makes your top relationships your top priorities.
Love finds real simple things to do, take a walk, have a meal with people we love.
3. Love learns to pay attention.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen… James 1:19
You know, a very striking dimension of Jesus’ capacity to love was his ability to be present with people.
In all the Bible, Jesus never says to someone, “Huh? What did you say? I wasn’t paying attention. I was distracted with all my Messiah work.”
Jesus is constantly aware of how his disciples are doing.
when they’re tempted
when they’re tired
when they’re joyful
when they’re confused
what they’re afraid of when their faith is small
what they were arguing about
when they get it right
He knows because he sees and hears and cares.
How are you doing at that?
We’re learning how to fill up the love tanks of people in our lives.
I was thinking one of the nice things about cars is they have little gauges on them so you can tell how much gas is in the tank.
Isn’t that a great feature in a car?
Wouldn’t it be a great thing if people had little gauges on their foreheads? You could just tell by looking at the gauge how full their love tank is.
Well, God didn’t put those little gauges on our foreheads, and that’s not a design flaw.
God actually did that on purpose because love learns to read the unseen gauge.
What fills that love tank for you might not be what fills my love tank.
Think of someone in your life and ask them this week, “Where is the gauge on a scale from one to ten?”
Get out of fuzzy — “How full is the love tank and why?”
If you’re married, you may want to have a conversation with your spouse.
As a church, we want married couples to have great marriages. Marriages face so many pressures.
Get in a small group together. Get in relationships with people that will cheer you on… and challenge you… and breathe life into your marriage.
You may not be married.
I want you to know — we’re so glad you’re here. Jesus wants you to have a great life. And we want to be a church that doesn’t buy into the myth that falling in love is the salvation experience of the human race.
If you’re not married, get in a small group. Develop relationships with other people who will strengthen you and challenge you in your relationship with God.
Think about where you work… remember, our goal is to grow a community of extraordinarily loving people.
Think about some of the people where you work. Part of why Jesus taught what he taught, did what he did, part of why he died on the cross and sent his Holy Spirit is so that through his power, you could fill where you work with love.
Wherever you work ought to be a more loving place because you are there.
Become a student of the people around you — in the office or the cubicle or the break area.
What’s the love language of the people around you at work?
This week, you could take the time to have a two-minute conversation… or invite someone for coffee or lunch…
Because you are only guaranteed this day. That’s the thing about love and time.
The psalmist said hundreds and hundreds of years ago,
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Psalm 90:1
…from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:2
Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet… they quickly pass, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
The best use of this day is love… and the best day to love is today because it’s all we have, and it goes so fast.
Teach us to number our days. You can love. You can stop. You can notice. You can care. Jesus will do this with you, for love (his love, agape love) is the greatest force the world has ever known.
Do this with your time this week, and then come back next week… because next week may be the most amazing of all the love languages.
Let’s pray as the band comes to lead us in a closing song.
God, thank you so much for this moment, for this day. We get this day. We get to be alive in this world on this day.
God, thank you for the life and teachings of Jesus. Thank you that he modeled to us how to spend quality time with those we love.
God, thank you that what he cared about most was loving people… and that he’s still looking for people who want to be with him, to learn from him how to love.
God, would you help us to be those people. Would you make this a community of extraordinarily loving people.
We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.
Blue Oaks Church