Often when I picture what our family life will be, I picture playing outside in the fall or cuddling before bed. I think that just being with my children conveys my love to them. But how do we love our children when life is not so picturesque? This is not a rhetorical question. How can we love them? It is a practical and pointed question.
How can we love them?
Many verses in the Bible point to the fact that as Christians we will be known by our love. How do we be the steady one that loves when around us swirl disagreements and temper tantrums? How do I love when my child is not obedient? (translation: How do I, the parent, love when I don’t get my way?) How do I love when all I hear is complaints even for my acts of love? How do I love when I feel broken or tempted to anger?
2 Peter 3:9 tells us of God’s patience waiting for people to come to repentance. In contrast, my response is often anger. Is anger going to cause repentance? In James 1:20 we read, “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” I don’t know why, but in the moment it is so hard to see that anger will not produce any fruit. In that moment I don’t get my desired response, I somehow feel that yelling and pointing the blame will help bring obedience. This tactic is so short-sided. It may get us out the door on time, or it may get quick obedience, but it does not show that we love our children.
I can love them by setting aside my anger.
When I have asked my child to stop doing something and they start yelling, does threatening and yelling over their yells get their heart to change or does it just make them feel more angry? Proverbs 15:1 tells us “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
I can love them by using a gentle answer.
How do I show love when the line is being crossed, and I as the parent need to change the course of my child’s actions? In Hebrews 12:6, we read that “…the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
I can love my child by disciplining and teaching them.
I can love them by extending the forgiveness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
I can love them by being showing them God’s wisdom.
James 3:17 says “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” Are we being wise? God’s wisdom is “pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
Loving our children takes action. It is a ministry. It is service. Loving our children includes pointing them to God, letting go of control, and gently guiding them to the love of Christ. James 3:18 goes on to tell us that God’s wisdom will bring a harvest. “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
We can love and sow a harvest of righteousness by making peace.
If we love our children our goal cannot be to force compliance nor motivate with fear. True love would see the bigger picture and point our children to the God of Love. True love uses wisdom from above. Do you want a harvest of righteousness? Our love for them must be sown in peace as James 3:17-18 says, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
Oh Father give us your wisdom to love our kids in action. Teach us to seek a harvest of righteousness by sowing in peace. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Erin Michele is a Christ follower, a wife and a mother of five. Her favorite verse is Psalm 127:1;“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” Erin is a woman who has struggled with her faith, however, she is learning that if we desire to build something lasting, we must build it with the Lord. You can find more of her stories at erinmichele.net on her blog, Steps to Trusting, where she discusses faith, identity, motherhood and more.
I will always love my girls no matter what. But it is easy to get angry or very upset at them when they don’t listen. It can be often frustrating. I try not to yell all the time I though situations, but it can be hard not to do.
Great post, Erin! I’ve been camped out in James for the last year as I’ve desperately prayed for the wisdom and the fruit of the Spirit to love my crew of Littles well. It’s by far the most wonderful and simultaneously the most sanctifying season of life to date.