Filling the Spiritual Love Tank
In Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, he introduces the concept of the emotional love tank. He references this vessel throughout the chapter as a symbol of what stores the love we receive. He explains that when the love tank is full, we have received the adequate amount of love to function normally. But when it is empty, we go about seeking love in the wrong places, entering into desperate attempts to satisfy our craving for love. He says that we misbehave when the love tank is running on fumes. So instead of focusing on our emotional health, I’m examining this concept’s application to our spiritual development. Let’s take a look at our spiritual love tanks.
Stalled at Empty
I once had a car that drove smoothly. I really enjoyed that car. But the problem was that I could never seem to keep it filled. The fluids seem to run right through the car, especially the gas. I found myself at the gas station far more often than I thought I should be. Ultimately, I couldn’t put enough gas into the car to satisfy it. And unfortunately, I had to move on from it. As much as I really wanted to keep the car, it just wasn’t beneficial or practical. I had to get rid of that car.
The way that Dr. Gary Chapman of The Five Love Languages has described the emotional love tank reminds me so much of that car. We can’t ever seem to keep our emotional love tanks full, even if we desperately want to and we try all these different attempts to comply to its demands.
This inability to satisfy the insatiable need for love is to be expected, because the possibility for love today seems endless. The abyss of love options and love offerings continues to increase as technology expands and we seek innovative ways to be loved.
With all this advancement, we seem to be going in the opposite direction of love. Real love is becoming increasingly elusive. It’s at a premium. We pay for the chance to have it, for an intelligently designed software program to use a precisely engineered algorithm to pinpoint it out. It even tells us how often we walk by each other and suggests perfect first dates.
With all this progress however, we still feel stalled on empty.
Real love is still lacking. Real love is still elusive. Real love is still this mysterious, fictitious thing that seems to escape us. All because we depict real love completely differently than what real love actually is.
When we feel deprived of this elusive real love, we find ourselves with empty emotional love tanks. And when our emotional love tanks are empty, we tend to seek physical means of filling up.
The latest fashion trends excite us. We stand in line for the newest smart phone. We dream and scheme for the luxury SUV with the third row, entertainment package, rear view camera and Bluetooth connectivity. And we save and penny pinch to scrape up the down payment for that custom built home that we handpicked the slab of granite for the kitchen and designed the spa-like bathroom around a beautiful restored claw foot tub we found at an estate sale.
But the truth remains. Artificial love can’t ever replace the real love we crave.
Our Spiritual Love Tanks
While artificial love has no end and can’t ever truly satisfy, real love contains everything we need to be fulfilled.
This key discrepancy is the difference between focusing on fulfilling the emotional love tank and receiving the filling the spiritual love tank. To get past this artificial, manufactured, material love, we have to empty ourselves of the self-centered aim of this type of love. We do that by denying ourselves of this selfish mindset. Basically, we swap our perceived importance of the emotional love tank for the authentic priority of the spiritual love tank.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.
Matthew 16:24 CSB
If we’re full of self, we have no room for anything else. We must first be willing to empty ourselves of ourselves. Once empty of the pseudo-love we so heavily relied on, only then we can be filled with the honest, true love that can withstand the test of time and the storm of any situation.
Our new focal point needs to be on our spiritual love tanks, which offer the opportunity to be completely filled and holistically fulfilled, extending to every other tank in our lives. But in order to be continually filled to the point of overflow, we must first be emptied for the purpose of humility.
Kenosis: The Real Empty
5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 CSB
I have felt empty before, devoid of emotion and incapable of love. It’s usually after exhaustion has run its full course and coffee no longer has an affect on my alertness. It’s a completely normal and human emotion to feel. But feeling really empty is completely different from emptying yourself.
I had a conversation with a coworker about perspective. He wasn’t stoked about his place in life, but I wanted him to keep a positive outlook on his future. I began listing all of the things we typically take for granted.
A clean place to shower. A warm bed to sink into after a long day. A roof overhead during the torrential flood rains. Deodorant for obvious reasons. The budgeted amount for groceries this week. Shoes to walk in. And clothes to cover the essentials. Piping hot water and a green tea bag to steep with a drizzle of honey when your throat’s a little sore. A good book and a long weekend.
We just take these things for granted. We have no real clue what real emptying is like. Being completely drained of every emotion, material item, comfort, and basic biological need, is undesirable. But to be depleted of love, peace, joy, and hope is incomprehensible. While we have so much to harbor on with emotional emptiness, I believe that we are oblivious of our own spiritual emptiness.
The emptiness that Christ endured was a spiritual and divine emptiness. To give up His Heavenly position to come down as a baby and have others raise and care for Him takes an incredible amount of humility. To know that those who you are saving will be the same ones to hate, abuse, and take your life involves an emptying that we do not understand.
No one would volunteer for this role. No one would sign up. No one would raise a hand. That’s too much emptiness for one person.
It takes divinity to be full of that much humility.
Keeping the Love Tank Full
If we do have these spiritual love tanks and we concede to emptying ourselves of ourselves, then we can receive the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 CSB
Because God’s love is infinite, He can fill the abyss that you have with His Spirit. His Spirit can then overflow from our spiritual love tank to spill over into the other tanks of our lives. The filling of the spiritual love tank with joy and peace grant us as believers an abundance of hope.
We can keep our spiritual love tanks full by drawing near to God, believing in His Word, and keeping an eternal perspective on our lives.
Have you ever considered this concept of a spiritual love tank? What are your suggestions for keeping it full?
Share your revelations below.