Quality time. Acts of service. Physical touch. Words of affirmation. Gifts. You may recognize these as Christian marriage author Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” detailed in his same-titled book and now available for children, teenagers, and many others. The late Rev. Dr. Charles Britt, my childhood minister at Auburn United Methodist Church, former missionary to Liberia, and eventual adjunct Family & Child Development instructor at Auburn University hammered this phrase into our minds in “Mate Selection/Marriage Introduction” long before Chapman ever penned his book: “You have to LOVE people the way they NEED to be loved…not how you want to love them!” In twenty-six years of marriage, I have seen this to be true, and I see firsthand how much a quality marriage depends upon God working in a couple’s life to be able to perceive and then deliver!
One of the most recognizable signs of spiritual maturity in an individual’s life is the achievement of balance. Because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, one cannot achieve balance independent of Gods’ strength and power. Jesus was balanced physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in His relationships with God and with others. In our imitation of Him, we are to do no less.
Perhaps we love Him spiritually, but do we demonstrate our physical love for Him by eating and drinking wisely, by abstaining from substances that poison His Temple, by disciplining our bodies with regular exercise and adequate sleep? Perhaps we love Him physically ,but do we hunger for Him emotionally by taking each negative and destructive thought captive by discarding it, replacing it with whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy ( Philippians 4:8)?
It could be that we have our emotions under control by His strength, but do we love Him mentally by hungering for spiritual truth to be found in His Word and in inspirational books, classic and new, that uplift and drive us to greater communion with Him? Do our mental closets need daily cleaning from the pollution gathered from our movie, book, television, radio, music, magazine, or Internet choices? Loving God and hungering for Him spiritually in an honest way that is pleasing to Him means that the physical, mental, and emotional areas of our lives must be brought under His control. Our witness to a watching world, both Christian and non-Christian, suffer when we are seen failing to love Him with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind.
Which area (s), physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, needs an overhaul as you try to love Him as He commands you to? What will you do to show Him you recognize this need for growth?
Prayer: “Dear Father, when I read that there are only two commandments that Jesus gives me regarding loving You and loving others, I initially breathe a sigh of relief. But when I begin to try to obey these commands, I realize just how difficult the practical application can be! Show me how I can daily love You physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Surround me with others who can help me be accountable to loving You in each of these ways as I continue the journey to Christian maturity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen”