Posted by: Mike Willoughby | September 14, 2011

How do you say Love (Part 6)

Do you like to receive a gift from someone who loves you?  Ok, who doesn’t like to receive a gift?  But does receiving a gift from someone who loves you really speak straight to your heart?  If so, you probably speak the love language of “receiving gifts.”

Dr. Chapman identifies this common love language in The Five Love Languages book and in the process of reading the book my eyes were opened to a gap in my own love language repertoire.  You already know from How do you say Love (Part 2) that my wife is a “quality time” love language speaker.  Many of you also connected the dots from last week’s article and guessed I’m a “words of affirmation” kind of guy.  Since giving and receiving gifts as a primary expression of love is not number one with Kristal or me, I have tended to ignore this love language.  However there are folks very close to me who are huge “receiving gifts” love language speakers, so this article is as much for my benefit as anyone.

Dr. Chapman identifies two possible hurdles for someone who wants to learn to speak this love language.  The first hurdle concerns differing views of the appropriate way to use money.  Some folks have a “spending orientation” which means they get pleasure from spending money to obtain something of value.  These folks will probably not have a hard time adjusting to speaking this new language.  However other people may have a “saving orientation” which means they get pleasure from saving money or investing it for the future.  “Saving oriented” folks may have some adjustments to make in learning to speak “receiving gifts.”  The adjustment can come from seeing the purchase of a gift as an investment in the one you love – and so it is.  Another adjustment is to broaden your thinking about what constitutes a gift.  Actually the best gifts don’t require money – they require the gift of self.

Understanding the gift of self can be a hurdle to speaking this love language fluently because it can seem so subjective.  A purchased gift has concrete value established by the price tag.  How much is the hand-picked flower, hand-drawn card, love letter or specially cooked meal worth?  Even more intangible is the gift of self through physical presence.  How much is an impromptu walk in the park, a summer picnic, a date at the symphony while the Cowboys are playing on TV or a Saturday morning for two at the Spa really worth?  What would it mean to a “receiving gifts” speaker for you to take the afternoon off from work to drive her to a stressful doctor appointment, hold her hand in the waiting room and take her for a treat after the appointment like when she was a little girl?  The best gifts don’t necessarily cost much money – but they may have priceless value.

Some of you might be thinking this love language doesn’t belong on the same shelf with words of affirmation or quality time.  Doesn’t the expression of love through a simple gift reduce the value of love to the price tag on the item?  Can you really put a price tag on love?  First if you are thinking this way, you clearly aren’t a native “receiving gifts” love language speaker.  Knowing your own love language is critical to the process of developing your language repertoire so you are making progress.  I would also propose that thinking this way does not reflect an appreciation for the way God thinks and feels.  God is love and therefore any expression of love should reflect some aspect of His being.  Gift giving is absolutely reflective of God’s expression of love for us.

Read these words from Jesus in Matthew 7:7-11 to help you meditate on this truth.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

God is a Lover who gives good things to those He loves when they ask for His love in faith.  A parallel version of this passage in Luke 11:9-13 adds an interesting twist.

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;  or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In this version, Jesus promises that our loving God will give those He loves the gift of Self in the form of His Holy Spirit when they ask in faith.  How much more precious and absolutely priceless is the gift of the presence of God in your life?  Of course the ultimate gift of Self from our loving God was the incarnation of Himself in human form in the person of Jesus Christ.  The fact that Jesus Himself speaks these promises of heavenly gift-giving in these passages serves to encourage us even more knowing how He personally backed up those promises on the cross!

Consider the gap plugged!

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

Copyright © 2011 Michael Willoughby. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to author and/or owner with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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