We are looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to gain a biblical perspective of what it means to love our children. After two statements about what love is come three statements that teach what love is not.
Love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
Love is not proud.
These have special implications for parents. Envy has a particularly nasty twist with regard to parenting. This occurs when you start looking around at other families and conclude that they are much better off than you are. Then you start thinking that you wish your children were like those in the other families that are doing soooo much better than your family. This leads to discouragement with your own children and perhaps even your spouse. You think, “why can’t we be like the Smith’s?” This is why envy is so destructive. Like many other sins, envy’s chief characteristic is deception. You only think you know what other families are like. Envy makes you think that you know all you need to know – other families are much better off than you are. So, like Eve, you believe the lie and indulge in self-pity.
This is why envy is destructive to love. Biblical, sacrificial love means giving yourself to others. Envy causes you to crave things that you think will make you happy. For example, “if my kids were only like the Smith kids.” Instead of investing yourself in trusting God and being patient and kind and working to disciple your own children, you listen to the lustful call of envy and think that you would have an easier life if you kids were more like somebody else’s kids. Envy is about you. It keeps you from loving God and loving your children. It keeps you from trusting and studying God’s word to provide the answers you need. When you see this ugly sin, run from it!
Boasting and pride go hand-in-hand. Sometimes pride and boasting are obvious. There is the parent who is quick to announce on Facebook, Twitter, the family blog, the church newsletter, text message, and even by voice, that her child just won best in class because she is so bright and, of course, well trained. This is easy to spot.
There is a more subtle side to pride. It occurs when you look for the praise of others to assess how successful you are as a parent. There is a delicate balance here. You do want the wisdom of others to help guide you along the way. However, if you look for the approval of others instead of the teaching of the Bible to guide how you parent, you have taken the road of pride.
Pride, at it’s core, is doing what I want to do instead of what God wants me do. When I seek the approval of others to verify my parenting I am living for their praise. This means God takes second place or third place or worse. It also means you are living for the approval of others. This is not love, but self-serving pride. For instance, it is easy to say that reading a book, even a good book, has really helped you in parenting. If your motive for making this statement is to gain the approval of others who like the book, you are being led by boastful pride.
Envy, boasting, and pride. They are all about you. They will keep you from dependence upon the Spirit and his word. They will keep you from loving your children.