We usually remember to tell our children that we love them. However, they also hear how we love any number of things from a favorite color to a favorite food to a favorite sports team! In contrast, Scripture gives us particular instructions about how we are to love. One place this instruction is found is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. These are familiar words:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
The problem with familiar words is that they often lose their impact. Over the next several posts we will take a careful look at these familiar words and apply them specifically to how we should love our children.
Let’s start with love is patient. A working definition of patience is living in the expectation of God’s care. Patience and frustration are polar opposites. Often times regarding children parents will say things like, “you know that I love you, but I am just so frustrated right now!” If love is patient, then frustration is not love.
Another popular usage of patience is that we often refer to it as something that we can lose – as in “you are really causing me to lose my patience.” But how would it sound if you were to say “you are really causing me to lose my love for you?” If love is patient, then “losing” patience can be equated to losing love. Said this way the idea of losing patience is not a pretty one.
Both toddlers and teenagers are equally adept in calling for patience to be deployed. You see love is not just a mindset, but a particular action that God commands us to take. Biblical love is not a natural thing. We can naturally love ice cream. We cannot naturally be patient. Biblical patience is a fruit of the Spirit. It cannot be modeled by sitting on a rocker on the front porch. It is modeled by a deep abiding trust that God will care for me as I seek to be a faithful parent.
So, the first step in loving our children is patience. Any specific situation we face in raising our children can be challenging and overwhelming. The first step to addressing the problem with love is to believe that God will care for you and your child. You can believe that God has wisdom in his word that will exactly fit the situation at hand. You can trust God as you cry out to him for help. You can be patient!