So, I’ve been on this journey of learning from God’s Word what it truly means to love others as Jesus has commanded us to do. Last week, we looked at Four Ways to Love Our Husbands Better.
I’ll admit, it was a little intimidating to write that one since I certainly don’t have a perfect marriage. The enemy whispers, “Who do you think you are, telling others how to love their husbands?” Well, if that wasn’t intimidating enough, this week I felt the Lord leading me to share how we can show our kids some love.
Now, before you start to think that I am claiming to be an authority on parenting, let me make a disclaimer: I am learning. And I am passing on to you what the Holy Spirit is teaching me.
Many of these ideas I haven’t done very well myself. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are truth. God’s Word is truth. We just all need reminders now and then–including me. I am hoping you and I can grow together.
At the beginning of this year, the Lord gave me 1 Corinthians 13:13 as my verse for the year:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”1 Corinthians 13:3, NIV
As a result, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about true, biblical love, listening to teachings, doing Bible studies, and writing posts each week on love. I have learned a few things that I think are helpful to remember when it comes to truly loving our kids.
3 Ways to Show Our Kids Some Love
Love teaches the Word.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”Deuteronomy 6:4-7
If we ever want to know how to be the parents God wants us to be, this Scripture holds the key. We can’t expect someone else to teach our children about the Lord. It’s our responsibility as parents. Whether our children are in church every time the door opens, in public school, Christian school, or home school, the job of teaching them about God lies with us.
From the time our children were born, we began reading the Bible to them and praying for them at night. When they were old enough to understand, we shared the Gospel with them and prayed with them when they were ready to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
As they got a little older, we began having family devotions at the dinner table and praying together. That’s not to say that we didn’t go from reading the Bible to arguing sometimes in the same night. I’m not trying to paint a Rockwell scene at the dinner table.
We were just imperfect parents doing the best we knew how to teach our children to love Jesus and seek a relationship with Him. We wanted them to understand the priority of God’s Word in our lives.
Love trains in righteousness.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”Proverbs 22:6
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”Ephesians 6:4
The definition of train is to “teach a particular skill or type of behavior through practice and instruction over a period of time” (Oxford Dictionary).
In order for this principle to take effect, a child must find value in following the Lord. We can take kids to church all week long, but if we do not live out the Christian life consistently in front of them, they will see no value in it. They must learn through both instruction and practice that they see in us.
“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.”Proverbs 20:11
Our children must be transformed. Training our children in righteousness means that we show them the right way by our words and actions (teach), and we consistently praise them for right behavior and discipline them for wrong behavior (practice).
This discipline should be done with firmness but lots of love. We must separate their “who” from their “do.” They may sometimes do wrong things, but we correct the actions, while loving them and not characterizing “who” they are by what they sometimes do.
They need to see us be genuine in our faith, spending time with the Lord daily, so that they will witness in us that walking in righteousness only comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Love tells the truth.
“Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.”Psalm 26:2-3
One of the worst things we can do as parents is pretend to be something we’re not. Kids can see right through fake Christianity. Our relationship with the Lord must be right before we can teach our children anything, but we are all human. We will mess up as parents. A lot. My philosophy has always been to just be real in front of our kids.
If we only show them our good, “Christian” side, they will feel like failures when they mess up. The best thing we can do as parents is apologize to our kids when we get it wrong. Let them see the value of repentance and asking forgiveness.
We need to be quick to seek forgiveness and quick to give forgiveness when ours is sought. Our children need to see us be real and humble. They need to see that marriage isn’t perfect, but we are still committed to working out our problems and loving each other.
We also need to be honest with them about life. Life isn’t perfect. They won’t always be the winner. Sometimes they will be the loser. Let me say that again. Sometimes they will be the loser. And that is perfectly okay.
Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we plan. We need to let our kids experience the ups and downs and learn how to deal with loss and pain by praying and trusting the Lord.
Real, Christlike love is a verb that does whatever promotes spiritual growth in someone else. We all “love” our children, but if we are not making their spiritual growth a priority, then we are not truly loving them.
Real love is not giving our kids everything they want, but giving them the one thing they truly need: the Gospel of Jesus Christ lived out, not perfectly, but genuinely in our lives.