When it comes to parenting, most of us regard Proverbs 22:6 as our primary parental mission statement from God:
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
This means that during children’s formative years, we make it a priority to pass down our faith, imbue them with fundamental Christian values, take them to church, and enroll them in programs where they will have opportunities to expand their understanding of God.
All of these activities play an important role in our children’s spiritual development, yet they only represent a fraction of what God envisioned when He gave us this paradigm for parenting!
In the long run, what we do and how we live our lives often impacts our kids far more than the things we “do” for them.
Have you ever watched young children observe their older siblings, then try to imitate everything that they do?
Children are like highly absorbent sponges. They learn by keenly observing and emulating everything around them. Our kids model their lives after ours, basing their actions not on the things that we say but on the things that we do!
Because there are always little ones watching us, we can’t become so externally focused on them that we stop prioritizing our daily walk with the Lord. We have to continuously grow in our faith so that we can model the love of Jesus for them in every aspect of lives.
One of the most popular passages in Scripture is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, the “love” passage, which teaches us:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Can you imagine what our lives would look like, what types of healing would occur within fractured families, what types of transformation would happen in society, if each of us lived more selflessly, acted less selfishly, and expressed more love to one another, each and every day of our lives?
One way we can teach our children how to be more loving and cultivate a more loving environment at home is to strive to love one another in situations that normally challenge us and encourage our kids to do the same! Here are a few practical ways to we can begin to express more love in our daily lives:
- When we’re standing in line at the supermarket or sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, let’s remember that “love is patient” and bless those around us by not complaining about slow cashiers or impatiently blasting our car horn!
- When we’re in a bad mood, let’s remember that “love is kind” and refrain from taking out our frustrations on our spouse, kids, or any unsuspecting stranger that happen to cross our path!
- Since love does not envy, let’s tame our inner green-eyed monster once and for all by celebrating the blessings God has bestowed upon our friends and neighbors and joyfully thanking God for all the wonderful gifts that He has given to us! (James 1:17)
- Since love always protects, let’s make sure we are trustworthy confidantes that our kids can count on, especially during their tumultuous teen years. Let’s faithfully guard their secrets, speak the truth in love, and always have their best interests in mind!
- Since love is “not easily angered – it keeps no record of wrong”, let’s learn to hold our tongues instead of lashing out, give others the benefit of the doubt instead of jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst of them, choose to not be so easily offended, practice letting bygones be bygones, and always be willing to forgive.
How we raise our children matters, but as our kids grow up and look back on their childhood, we are likely to find that the greatest spiritual impact we have on them will come not from the number of programs we enroll them in, but from how consistently we demonstrate the love of Jesus to them every day of their lives!
Love Is Kind
One of the people who made a lasting impact on my life was my precious grandmother, so the Zonderkidz book that I wanted to share with you and your family this month is Love Is Kind by best-selling author Laura Sassi (illustrations by Lison Chaperon)!
Love Is Kind is a heartwarming story about Little Owl who hopes to buy his Grammy a heart-shaped box of chocolates for her birthday. On his quest for the chocolates, he’s thwarted at every turn, but ends up discovering the real meaning of love as described in 1 Corinthians 13. Written in simple prose, this heartfelt and humorous picture book is a sweet reminder that real love isn’t found in a box… even one filled with chocolates.
Love Is Kind takes a charming and gentle approach to teaching kids the true meaning of love, while celebrating the bonds that kids have with their grandparents, and the many forms that love and happiness can take.
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What is the biggest “love” challenge that you’re currently facing as a parent? How could actively applying the love principles in 1 Corinthians 13 help you transform the situation?