Choose Love

Posted on January 19, 2016 · Posted in Communication, Parenting

God is specific about how he wants you to love your children. I Corinthians 13 offers practical help:

Love is patient
Patience is the fruit of the Spirit. This means that love is not a knee-jerk reaction when things don’t go well. Loving your children means understanding and anticipating that obedience to biblical direction will be a challenge. Being patient means that you are sensitive to reality of spiritual warfare. Don’t be frustrated with their struggles – think carefully, and remember that love is patient. You are in the process of calling them from death to life.

Love is kind
If parents’ lives are to be dominated by love for their children, then it follows that kindness must also be dominant. Kind actions and pleasant words are the behavior of the gospel. Parents foolishly try to justify abrupt or harsh words because of busy, hectic schedules. However, kindness is often a casualty of a pragmatic commitment to love. As they grow older, children may not remember fondly all the schedules that were kept, but they will remember if they experienced kindness (see Ephesians 4:32).

Love does not envy
Envy can be subtle. A parent might be envious of someone else’s children, thinking that her life would be better if her own children behaved like those in other families. Or envy might be expressed by saying something like, “I sure wish I had it this easy when I was your age. You kids don’t know how lucky you are.” The biblical opposite of envy is contentment. As Paul says in Philippians 4:10-13, he learned to be content in all circumstances. God wants you to experience contentment with the family you have been given. Envy is an enemy of the gospel.

Love does not boast, it is not proud
Boasting and pride are two sides of the same coin. Boasting is the outward manifestation of pride. Arrogant statements like “I can’t believe you did that! You should know better!” demonstrate a prideful spirit. Love, however, expresses itself in humility. Love is sensitive to the struggles of sin. Love knows that children cannot obey in their own strength and desperately need the grace of God. Being exasperated with your children’s struggles indicates a lack of appreciation and dependence upon the grace of God in your own life.

Patience and kindness are weapons of strength to do good. They will impact your children for a lifetime. Envy and boasting are weapons of destruction. They, too, will last a lifetime. Choose love, choose life.

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Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.