How to Love your Children
I Corinthians 13 has some important things to say about how love your kids in a way that blesses them and brings honor to God. Here are some examples:
Love is patient
That is what Paul means in Ephesians 6:4 when he calls upon fathers not to provoke their children to anger. This means that love is not a knee-jerk reaction when things don't go well. Loving your children means understanding them and anticipating how obedience to your direction will be a challenge for them. Don't be frustrated with their struggles. You are in the process of calling them from death to life.
Love is kind
Kind actions and pleasant words are the language of the gospel. Don't allow busy, hectic schedules to displace the need to consistently show kindness to your children. Kindness is often a casualty of busyness. Children may not remember all the schedules that were kept, but they will remember if they experienced kindness (see Ephesians 4:32).
Love does not envy
Envy can be subtle. Envy might be thinking your life would be much easier if your kids were like other children. Or envy might be expressed by saying something like, "I sure wish I had it this easy when I was your age. You kids don't know how lucky you are." The biblical opposite of envy is contentment. God wants you to experience contentment with the family you have been given. Envy is not love and is an enemy of the gospel.
Love does not boast, it is not proud
Boasting and pride are two sides of the same coin. Boasting is the outward manifestation of pride. Arrogant statements like "I can't believe you did that! You should know better!" demonstrate a prideful spirit. The implication of this statement is that obedience is simply a matter of wanting to do the right thing. It also implies that you are able to handle things in your own strength. Love, however, expresses itself in humility. Love is sensitive to the struggles your children have with sin. Love knows that children cannot obey in their own strength and that they desperately need the grace of God. Being exasperated with your children's struggles indicates a lack of appreciation and dependence upon the grace of God in your own life. Love means you identify with the things that are hard for your children. Love means that in humility you daily point your children and yourself to the wonder of the gospel.
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.