Acts of Service?
Jerry N. Duncan, Ph.D., ABPP
This is an interesting one. Of all of the love languages Chapman describes in The Five Love Languages, this one feels the most like a “foreign” language to me. Yet, it is the primary love language of two of my family members.
I like the story Chapman tells of the young couple who surprised him with the description of their deteriorating relationship. It didn’t surprise him that their relationship had grown more and more painful since they had married. They both described how the other person’s efforts at doing nice things for each other had drastically changed since the wedding. What surprised him was that they both had the same primary love language, acts of service.
Jesus modeled this form of love when He washed the disciples’ feet, and encouraged them to follow His lead in their future relationships with each other. Remember the love-language model? We like all five forms of love. But, we each have a favorite. And, it is in our best interest to discover the favorite of those we love, and make sure we are intentional in meeting their needs in the way they define them, rather than assume they like to be loved the same way we do. Not an easy thing to do, but an incredibly powerful thing to do.
Acts of service are doing things for someone that we know they would like for us to do. Isn’t it interesting how we are so diligent at discovering and doing nice things for people we are courting, but lose our focus and momentum when we know we “have them” (marriage, hired as an employee, a signed contract, etc,)?
A sick man went to the doctor’s office with his wife. The doctor examined the man and ran some tests while his wife waited in the reception area. When the doctor emerged with a concerned look on his face, the wife became anxious.
“Doctor, will my husband be okay?” she inquired.
“I’m afraid your husband is very ill,” the doctor replied. “He has a rare form of anemia, and if it is left untreated, he will most certainly die from it. However, there is a cure.”
“Yes. With rest and proper nutrition, the disease will go into remission and your husband should live for many more years. Here’s what I want you to do: Take your husband home and treat him like a king. Fix him three home-cooked meals a day, and wait on him hand and foot. Bring him breakfast in bed. Don’t let him do anything that you can do for him. If he needs something, you take care of it. Give him a back rub in the morning and full-body massage every evening. Oh, and one more thing. Because his immune system is weak, you’ll need to keep your home spotless at all times. Do you have any questions?”
The wife had none.
“Do you want to break the news to your husband, or shall I?” asked the doctor.
“I will,” the wife replied.
She walked into the examination room. The husband, sensing that something was wrong, said, “It’s bad, isn’t it? What have I got?”
His wife answered with a tear in her eye, “The doctor said you’re gonna die.”
Practical love requires a decision to love someone the way he/she defines it. And, it requires deliberate action.
Have fun with this one!