This is the second of five messages inspired by the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. The congregation is invited to take out something to write with and the bulletin insert for taking notes. Click here for the Quality Time Insert. The prayer following the message is also located on the insert. Click here for another version of the prayer.
God is love. We are able to love God because God first loved us. We are able to love others because God first loved us.
Loving relationships are so important, Jesus commanded us to love one another. Let’s read it together.
John 13:34-35 NRSV
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”
If we’re going to love others as Jesus commands then we’re going to need to learn to communicate love in the way that’s easiest for the other person to hear it and receive it. Dr. Chapman researched this and identified 5 different ways in which persons best receive love. He calls them the 5 Love Languages
(1) Words of Affirmation
(2) Quality Time
(3) Receiving Gifts
(4) Acts of Service
(5) Physical Touch
Dr. Chapman’s research supports Jesus’ claim. Loving others is essential.
Married or single, young or old, every human has the emotional need to feel loved. When this need is met, we move out to reach our potential for God and our potential for good in the world. However, when we feel unloved, we struggle just to survive.
– Dr. Gary Chapman
Does a person need love to survive? I heard of a study years ago in Russia to test this theory. Infant orphans were fed, cleaned and changed but received no other human interaction. No cuddling. No soothing. The infants did not thrive. Like food and shelter, love was proved to be a basic human need.
Last week we discovered the first love language, words of affirmation. Love is often expressed in what we say and how we say it- words of encouragement, genuine compliments, and praising someone, especially in front of others. “I know you can do it. That color really brings out your eyes. Did you hear Johnny got an A on his science fair project?”
This week we’re exploring the love language of quality time.
When our girls were small there was a gap of time between when I picked up our oldest daughter Elyse from elementary school and youngest daughter Laura from daycare. So I’d stop at the local donut shop to buy us a snack. We’d munch and drink our milk and Elyse would chatter away about her day. It was much later that I realized how important that time was to Elyse. I thought we were just hanging out, biding our time, but to her, I was speaking her love language. At that time in her life, she needed quality time with mom in order to feel loved.
If you read through the Gospels, you’ll notice Jesus spends a great deal of time expressing love through quality time.
The Walk to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-33
It’s Easter Sunday. Jesus is dead along with the hopes and dreams of his followers. Now there are rumors his body’s been stolen. Two of the disciples decide they’ve had enough. They’re heading home. On the road, a stranger comes up alongside them. He begins to ask them questions, drawing them out, listening to their heartbreak. Then he begins to share with them the scriptures about the Messiah, how he must suffer and die for the salvation of all. Time passes. It grows dark. The disciples are going to stop for the night and invite the stranger to spend more time with them over a meal. Towards the end of the meal, the stranger takes the bread a breaks it. Their eyes are opened. Their hearts soar. Jesus is alive.
Jesus could have shared the Good News in a much quicker fashion, but he knew spending quality time with these men was the best way for them to hear and receive his love.
The Restoration of Peter, John 21:1-19
Peter and a few of the disciples have gone back to fishing after Jesus’ death. Peter’s heartbroken, scared and dealing with all that grief over denying Jesus in his time of need. They fished all night and haven’t caught a thing. As the morning breaks, they notice a guy hanging out on the beach. He calls to them. “Throw your nets on the other side of the boat.” Suddenly there’s a huge catch of fish. They haul it in and he’s still hanging out on the beach. He’s even got breakfast ready for them. Over the course of the meal, Peter’s faith and calling are restored by the risen Lord. “Feed my lambs… Tend my sheep…. Feed my sheep… Do you love me?” Jesus expresses love, forgiveness, and hope. Love as I love Peter. Words of Affirmation. Quality time.
Woman at the Well, John 4:1-43
In the ancient world, men didn’t speak to women. Rabbis didn’t teach outcasts. Jews and Samaritans were enemies. Yet Jesus takes a radical step to spend quality time with a woman at a well and as a result, her whole village comes to faith.
Mary and Martha, Luke 10:38-42
The home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus was a safe place for Jesus and his followers, a place for great food, rest and conversation. Mary appreciates the gift of quality time. She’s always found listening at Jesus’ feet. Martha, however, is wired differently. Acts of Service may be her love language, but it’s gotten twisted. It’s not about expressing love anymore. She’s trying to be Martha Stewart. Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (vs. 41-42)
Worry and distraction have gotten the best of Martha and Jesus gently talks her back down. Worry and distraction are the enemies of quality time. They steal our joy and our ability to be present to another human being. A loved one is sharing an important feeling, but our mind is far away from worrying about the project that’s due, the bills yet to be paid.
At its heart, quality time is loving someone enough to lay aside the worry and distraction in order to be fully present. The Biblical understanding of quality time is abiding. Drawing near and drawing the other person out.
God doesn’t just show up once in a while, God abides. Presence. Incarnation. God draws near in Jesus’ Christ and draws us out through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. God is in it for the long haul, through the good and the bad and the ugly. God desires a deep, intimate relationship with us, a relationship rooted in being present to one another, in quality time.
1 John 4:11-16 is printed on your insert. As I read it, underline the promises of presence and abiding for those who believe.
1 John 4:11-16 NRSV
Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this, we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
Quality time often results in quality conversation. Words of affirmation focus on what we are saying whereas quality conversation focuses on what we are hearing.
What does Quality Time look like:
- Listening intentionally – eye contact, undivided attention, focused attention
I saw a cartoon recently of a typical family- dad watching TV, mom’s reading, son playing a video game, daughter texting, and the cat watching the fish tank. The caption read “at least we’re all in the same room.” We live in a world of distraction, but it’s also a world that’s increasingly isolated. Quality time is a critical and counter-cultural expression of love.
- Asking questions to show interest
- Togetherness: spending time doing special things or everyday things
What can you do this week to offer your full attention, your ministry of presence, to someone you love? Eating at a dinner table, taking a walk together, family game night or craft time, doing the dishes together… the possibilities are endless. It’s such a small thing, but so important.
What can you do to offer the same to God, the One who loves you most?
In A Mile in My Shoes, Trevor Hudson says:
Let me describe what it means to be truly present. Being present involves letting go of our constant preoccupations, immersing ourselves in the here and now, and giving ourselves wholeheartedly to whatever is at hand. … It’s about becoming more aware, alert, awake to the fullness of the immediate moment. If we are with another person, it means engaging with him or her with all of our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength. Such wholehearted attention requires patience, time, and disciplined effort. And it is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to those around us, especially our suffering neighbor.
Jesus practiced a ministry of presence and we are commanded to do the same. God’s love shines through and our love shines through when we sit with someone while they grieve, wait with them at the doctor’s office, take someone out for coffee who’s out of work or going through a family crisis.
What would happen to the emotional climate of a household, a workplace, a congregation, a neighborhood if we left behind the distractions and the isolation for being truly present to one another, to loving each other by spending quality time?
Someone once said time is money, recognizing its value in the marketplace.
Time is valuable, but not so much for this reason. Time is valuable because time is love.
Please consider patronizing today’s featured artist, Ashley Goldberg.
Know you are always welcome at our congregation, Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, FL. We worship on Sundays at 8am, 9:20am, and 11am. Dress casual and bring the kids.
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