Am I Being Too Affectionate?

Love That Builds Up Others

What if the ways you express love become off-putting to others? How should you respond? Love comes in forms that vary from person to person. To love someone well requires taking the time to learn about them relationally. Seeking to provide clarity on this issue, Winston Smith, counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), encourages a posture that seeks the benefit of others first and foremost.

Winston has served as a counselor for more than fifteen years and holds a Master of Divinity Degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. Winston is the author of Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change Through Ordinary Moments as well as several mini-books: Divorce Recovery, Help for Stepfamilies, It's All About Me—The Problem with Masturbation, Who Does the Dishes? and Help! My Spouse Committed Adultery.

People are messy, which can make loving them tricky. Sometimes our well-intended efforts are not received in a positive manner. But loving others is about more than pure motives. It involves a patient commitment to learn how another person receives love. As Winston said, "If it doesn't build them up, then it really is no longer love no matter what your motives are."

Did Winston's discussion cause you to think differently about what it means to love wisely? If so, what has changed?
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How do you find it most natural to show love to another person? What are some of the reasons behind this?
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How do you best receive love from others? What are some examples of times when people have loved you well? What stood out to you the most about those experiences?
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Can you think of a time when someone found your expression of love off-putting? What made them uncomfortable? What could you have done differently? How can this experience inform your interactions in the future?
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Is there someone in your life who you find difficult to love? What are some ways you could learn more about them in order to better understand how to build them up? What steps will you take towards accomplishing that this week?
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First and foremost, love motivates us to think wisely about how to build up another person. As the Apostle Paul wrote, love "does not insist on its own way" (1 Cor. 13:5). If you are receiving negative feedback about the ways you express love, it does not necessarily mean you have to stop altogether. Instead, view it as an opportunity to grow in wisdom and sensitivity to another person's needs. Allow God to lead you in this process and trust Him to strengthen your abilities for building up those around you.

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