- Kind Words
- Humble Words
- Words of Hope
We can find scriptures bearing witness that God speaks to us in all of these loving ways.
“Well done, good and faithful servant.” found in a parable in Matthew said by a character that represents God.
"Do not fear – I will be with you through dangerous waters and fire." Isaiah 43
- Kind Words
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule."
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” The Message
"Let the children come to me – such belongs the kingdom of God," and, "unless you become like a child you cannot get into the kingdom of heavenwhen the adults would have pushed them aside as insignificant."
- Humble Words
- Words of Hope
Exodus describes the hope that the people experiencing exile and wandering in the wilderness will both draw closer to God and come out to a place flowing with milk and honey.
As people of faith we are invited to turn to these scriptures, to find ourselves as characters in these stories - and hear the gracious loving words of God addressed to us in our present situations. When we open ourselves up to the reality of these words we will find our love tanks full to overflowing. Then, and only then, can we truly and authentically give love to God and our neighbors.
Loving God with Words of Affirmation
Our love for God can be expressed in correlating dialects.
- In response to God’s compliments of us we give God words of praise.
- In exchange for God’s words of encouragement and hope we tell God we will trust him – even in the valleys of the shadow of death.
- In exchange for God’s kindness to us we offer words of thanksgiving
- In return for God’s humble words we make our humble confessions – trusting in God’s gracious forgiveness of our sins.
God’s words also propel us to consider how to love others around us with our words. God speaks affirmation to the good and the bad – to those who follow his will, and those who turn their backs. Each of us is beloved simply because God created us – God looks at each of us and calls us very good – that’s our true nature. You will find words in the Bible that express God’s patience – God’s kindness and forgiveness. Jesus asks that we who follow him, who call ourselves by his name – the Christ Ones – learn to love as God loves us. As Robin Knowles Wallace put it, “Through our Baptism and through knowing God we no longer see people and creation through the lens of their usefulness to us, but through God’s vision of their intrinsic worth.”
So because of the Christian belief that every human being God created has intrinsic worth, we can learn to use the love language of affirmation, even if it doesn’t come natural to us. That is another of Dr. Chapman’s insights. Loving others only comes natural when we fall in love with someone – but that state is always temporarily. When we commit ourselves to ongoing relationships with another – whether that is a child, or a parent, a spouse or the people of a congregation, love becomes a verb – something we do intentionally so that we can meet the emotional need for love in others.
Making Words of Affirmation a Habit
The following suggestions are adapted from Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages
- Read God’s words of affirmation of you daily. Pray that you may experience the truth of these words.
- As you read, watch tv or listen to the radio look for words of affirmation which people use. Observe people in conversation. Write those affirming statements in a notebook. Read through these periodically and select those you could use with people in your life. When you use one, note the date on which you used it.
- For one week keep a daily list of words of affirmation you give to others.
- Catch yourself when you are thinking negatively about yourself or someone else. Replace those words in your mind with something positive about you or the other person.
- Return to the people to whom you have been unkind and apologize. “There is nothing like apologizing to motivate a person to change his behavior.”
- Set a goal to give your spouse, child or co-worker a different compliment each day for a month.
- Look for the other person’s strengths and tell him or her how much you appreciate those strengths