As we learned from the previous post, choosing love is much more than a warm feeling. Paul continues to show what it looks like to really love your children in I Corinthians 13:
Love is not self-seeking
Love is about not putting yourself first. It is vital that your children see that you are living a life of sacrifice to God, just as you are asking them to do. The goals you set for your home must first and foremost reflect God’s direction in his Word. This cannot be done by indulging your own preferences. Sports, music, academic excellence, a quiet home life, and neatness, etc. are all examples of worthwhile activities. But there is no commandment that says your children must perform exactly in these activities as you might like. Don’t force your dreams and expectations into the lives of your children. Love is not self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered
Outbursts of anger are not loving. If you are easily angered, either internally or outwardly, something other than love is at work. James’ directive here is practical and pointed – be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. His reasoning for this is clear – man’s anger does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). Your anger may motivate your children to do what you want, but it will not produce what God wants. And you may find that what you want is not as desirable as you thought.
Love keeps no record of wrongs
Maintaining a list of wrongs is the opposite of gospel-centered thinking, and yet it is so easy keep such a list. In reality, each opportunity to discipline is a fresh, new opportunity to call your children to trust Christ. Keeping a list of wrongs is different than being aware of ongoing patterns of disobedience. Don’t forget your kids also see you struggle repeatedly with areas where you fall short. Constantly saying , “how many times have I told you not to do____”, errs on the side of keeping a record of wrongs, and is not loving. Instead, hold up the standard of righteousness. “Remember how God wants you to respond? I understand it is hard. Let’s ask him to help you ….” Compassionately reminding your children of the battle against the deeds of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) and pointing them to their need of Christ when sinful actions reoccur puts things in a positive and loving perspective.
Parenting that is characterized by anger that is easily awakened and fueled by a constant awareness of wrongs is self-serving. Neither Christ nor your children are honored by this lack of love. The only thing served is your own pride.
We will look at the remaining portion of I Corinthians 13:4-7 in tomorrow’s post.