“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 NIV84).
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. …I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV).
We all need to be loved. It’s how God made us. And according to Jesus the greatest kind of love is sacrificial love. The kind of love that He demonstrated when He died on the cross for our sins.
This sacrificial kind of love is also in evidence in the way that the apostle Paul witnessed about Jesus to others. He says that he “made himself a servant to all” in the way he shared the love of God. Paul also recognized that people had different ways of expressing and understanding love. And he was willing to adapt to their “love language” in his witness.
The idea that we each have different “love languages” has been popularized by Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages. In his book, Chapman says,
“Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need… But what makes one person feel loved emotionally is not always the thing that makes another person feel loved emotionally. We cannot rely on our native tongue if our spouse does not understand it. If we want them to feel the love we are trying to communicate, we must express it in his or her primary love language.”
It seems that Chapman has uncovered the same need that the apostle Paul observed. Everyone wants to be loved, but not everyone communicates it the same way.
Chapman’s work has been mainly aimed at helping couples better communicate their love with one another. Whereas, Paul’s was applied in how he witnessed about Jesus. The Bible records at least seven different approaches that Paul used in communicating the gospel.
Seven Witnessing Love Languages
- The direct approach.
- The intellectual approach.
- The testimonial approach.
- The relational approach.
- The service approach.
- The invitational approach.
- The creative-work approach.
Depending on his audience, Paul was able in the power of the Holy Spirit to speak in a language which communicated the love of God in the way they needed to hear. To the Romans, he was “not ashamed of the gospel” and spoke directly. To the Athenians, he quoted Greek philosophers and presented an intellectual case for the God that was “unknown” to them. To King Agrippa, he gave his Damascus road testimony. To the Thessalonians, he was as relationally “gentle as a mother,” and working night and day “like a father” he served them too. He invited people everywhere into the kingdom and he did creative work in the marketplace from city to city as a tentmaker.
I’m sure Paul had a preferred witnessing love language, but with the Spirit’s help, he was able to witness in a way that others could comprehend. My guess is that Paul’s top two preferred witnessing love languages are as listed above: the direct and the intellectual approach. But he learned to speak in other ways that people could hear and accept the gospel too.
What’s your preferred witnessing love language? And are you using it to witness to others about Jesus?