What is Biblical Love for Your Children? (Part 2)

This is the second post in the series What do you think about? Let’s pick up where we left off in I Corinthians 13:5, considering what it looks like to love your children biblically . You can link to part one of this topic here.

Love is not self-seeking
Love is about not putting yourself first. It is not a good idea to assume that what pleases you and what pleases God are one and the same. For example, do you want a house that is quiet and orderly? Why? Because that is pleasant to you? Or do you want a house full of energy and exuberance? Again, why? If your goal is to satisfy your own preferences and personality, you are not necessarily setting an example of love. 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. That means that you will be setting an example of serving others sacrificially, not simply indulging your own preferences.

Love is not easily angered
While it may be easy to rationalize and explain away outbursts of anger, we never use, “I was just trying to show love,” as an excuse. Outbursts of anger are not loving. If you find yourself being easily angered, either internally or outwardly, something other than love is uppermost in your thinking. James’ advice 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.

Love keeps no record of wrongs
Parents often struggle with this quality of love. After all, training children requires addressing wrong behavior over and over and over and …. How can you be consistent in training and discipline without keeping a record of wrongs? This is a key concept, because maintaining a list of wrongs is the opposite of gospel-centered thinking, and yet it is so easy keep such a list. You have to remind yourself daily that each opportunity to train your children in righteousness is a fresh opportunity to call them to trust Christ. Keeping a list of wrongs is different than addressing ongoing patterns of disobedience. For example, 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? 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.

Love does not delight in evil…
This aspect of biblical love illustrates a subtle but destructive component of human relationships. This is particularly the case when parental authority is being exercised. When correcting your children you can easily give them the impression that you are delighting in their failure. Since disciplined training in righteousness must be thorough and ongoing, a child may think that the only purpose a parent has is to delight in telling them how wrong they are. Rejoicing in the truth means presenting God’s ways in a manner that is positive and encouraging. That should not be difficult–you are holding out life to your children!

Love always protects…
These four powerful admonitions in verse 7 are practical ways of rejoicing in the truth. Providing biblical encouragement and direction to your children is protection for them. All of us respond to situations where we are protected, trusted, embraced with hope, and where personal commitment to us perseveres. This is the environment in which children will flourish. That is the point that is made in Ephesians 6:4, where fathers are directed not to exasperate their children, but to raise them with God’s training and direction. These four directives will provide the environment for the gospel to be presented powerfully to your children.

The Holy Spirit’s words in I Corinthians 13 are challenging and worthy of your thoughts and meditations. It would be a wise exercise for parents to look carefully at these verses and consider how faithfully they are showing biblical love to their children. These verses remind us that we cannot be biblical parents in our own strength–we must have the power of Christ to accomplish the Spirit’s call to love our children.

Please let me know your thoughts about biblically loving your children. We will return to this series in future posts. For now, read again Paul’s description of biblical love in action:

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. I Cor. 13:4-7

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