How do I love my child with true affection?
God has given his own children the call, duty, and ability to love him and to love others. God has also given to his children who are parents of their own children a wonderful description of what it means to love. These qualities are seen in, though not limited to, the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. The verses quoted below are from the English Standard Version
All of these qualities find their source and perfect expression in God through Jesus Christ. If we are in Christ we too should express these qualities more and more, not only to other Christians but especially toward our own children. Taking our guide from this “love chapter” let’s see how we, as parents, can apply these qualities and Christ-like behaviors:
1. 1 Corinthians 13:1
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
Does my speech to and around my children come from a heart of love? If not, then I am just an irritating noise maker.
In what ways can I speak with love to and around my children?
2. 1 Corinthians 13:2
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
How often do I use God’s gifts he has given me in loving service to my child(ren)?
How can my family and I use our gifts more fully to serve one another?
3. 1 Corinthians 13:3
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Do I serve my child(ren) well? Sacrificially? Do I serve from a heart filled with love for him or her?
In what specific ways can we serve each other sacrificially with hearts filled with genuine love?
4. 1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
Love is unselfish as seen in the fact that love is patient. To have this kind of patience is to have restraint even when you have a right to act. Love is long-suffering. The idea is that I restrain my words and actions when wronged or provoked even when I have the right to act unless there is a sin I need to address through gentle rebuke (Matt. 18; Gal. 6:1)
Am I impatient with my child(ren) or am I longsuffering?
How can I model patience with my family and teach them to be patient with each other?
5. 1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is kind…
Love is kind. It has the desire and ability to bestow good on another. It proceeds from a tender heart with goodwill that contributes to the happiness of others. God is kind even to evil ones (see Luke 6 as an example).
In what ways do I tangibly show good will to others in my family that intentionally contributes to their happiness?
Are the majority of my actions toward my child(ren) acts of kindness?
How can we as members of Christ’s church be kind to one another?
6. 1 Corinthians 13:4
Love does not envy…
Love is not envious. Love does not feel an uneasiness at the sight of superior excellence, reputation or happiness others enjoy. As a parent, I am do not get angry or envious of my child when he or she is enjoying something. Love does not have a sense of hatred for others with a desire to depreciate them. So, I do not belittle or shame him, especially if he has something that I wish I had. Love does not take offense when my child has obtained what desire to have.
When am I envious? How am I going to repent and put on Christ by rejoicing with my child(ren) who rejoices?
What shall I do to help my child(ren) and family in their sin of envy?
Am I jealous of my child(ren)?
7. 1 Corinthians 13:4
Love does not brag…
This means that my love is not ostentatious, nor has an anxious display of oneself for the purpose of building myself up at the expense of putting my child down. It does not seek to be the focus of attention.
Do I, as a parent, campaign for the center of attention? Do I rob my child of well-earned rewards, taking the spotlight from her? How and when will I repent?
How will I gently confront my child(ren) when he or she has an unhealthy, ostentatious attitude and behavior? Take note that this is quite different from a child developing a healthy confidence in things well done.
8. 1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is not arrogant
This says that love is not all puffed up and swollen with a proud vanity.
Is life all about me, as a proud and arrogant person?
Am I self-centered so that I demand that my children live for me?
In what ways do I show my own arrogance? How strongly does my arrogance show?
In what ways do I show true repentance, putting off pride and by faith putting on humility in Christ?
How can I model humility around my family and nurture them in the grace and virtue of humility?
9. 1 Corinthians 13:5
Love is not rude.
Another way to say this is that love does not act unbecomingly or unseemly. Rudeness is discourteous, impolite, and disrespectful. Therefore, love does not unnecessarily embarrass others. Parents often tend to see rudeness in children but the problem comes when I, as a parent, am rude, inconsiderate and disrespectful toward my son or daughter.
Am I rude? When and how?
What shall I do to repent of rudeness and exercise faith by being truly polite and respectful?
How can I lovingly correct my family members when they are rude and encourage them to show true consideration, courtesy, and respect?
10. 1 Corinthians 13:5
It does not insist on its own way
This is to say that love does not seek its own benefit. It seeks the benefit of others.
Do I always demand that I get my way as a parent? Do I always have to have things my way in my family?
Am I mature and secure enough to find ways that will benefit both me and my child(ren) in situations?
When do I behave and show actions that are genuinely for the advantage and benefit of my child(ren)?
In what specific ways can our family members seek to benefit each other?
11. 1 Corinthians 13:5
Love is not irritable
Loves is not easily provoked. It isn’t easily angered. It doesn’t have a trigger temper that either stems from bitterness nor does it lead to bitterness.
Do I have a trigger temper? When and how? Am I always on edge or do I have anger and bitterness boiling under the surface?
How shall I cease from such an unloving way?
How can we guard each other against trigger tempers?
What are some calm and gracious ways to handle my child(ren)’s anger?
What good shall I think and do to resolve the collateral damage caused by me or my child(ren)’s anger?
12. 1 Corinthians 13:5
Love is not resentful
Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. Love is unwilling to bring to mind a specific wrong and keep it into a mental registry of wrongs committed from which I will develop a plan for retaliation.
Do I do this? How, when and with whom? How can I put that off and put on love?
What can we do in our family to protect one another from bitterness, or allowing others to keep a mental registry in order to seek retaliation? Especially since Jesus Christ took the registry of our sins and the sins of our fellow believers upon His record and paid for them with His own sacrificial life and death?
13. 1 Corinthians 13:6
Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or evil but finds great delight in justice and truth.
Do I rejoice at the demise of others? Am I happy when others engage in sin or evil? Do I seek to engage in unrighteousness or evil? Then I need to repent.
How do we or can we celebrate good things in our family?
How can we encourage and foster attitudes and an environment that does good and righteousness?
What are some tangible, godly ways to delight in truth?
14. 1 Corinthians 13:7
Love bears all things
This means love covers over so as to protect.
Do I protect my child(ren)’s welfare or life? What about her or his reputation (do I keep from gossiping or slandering my own child, especially she he or she frustrates or angers me?)
How do I and how will I protect her or his reputation, welfare or life?
15. 1 Corinthians 13:7
Love believes all things
This is not saying that we are to be gullible, easily fooled or conned. This is saying that we put the best construction on things or see things from a positive light unless there is sufficient evidence to believe otherwise. When love has no such evidence it believes the best about our children.
Is it my habit to be gullible or easily fooled by my child?
Or am I the type of person to always see my child’s actions negatively? In other words, do I accuse my child of something without merely because I suspect he or she has done something?
How can we foster an environment within my family that puts things in the best possible light?
And what just and merciful thing should we do when there is evidence to the contrary, that my child is guilty of something?
16. 1 Corinthians 13:7
Love hopes all things
We do not hope in our environment, circumstances, or in people. Rather we have hope in Jesus Christ who works all things together for our good.
Am I hopeful? Do I manifest or exude hope with and around my child(ren)?
How can we display hope with one another in my family in such a way that we are realistically and biblically hopeful?
17. 1 Corinthians 13:7
Love endures all things
Love perseveres. It is resilient and it teaches the child to be resilient.
Do I easily give up? Am I a chronic quitter? Or do I persevere as a father or mother?
What are some ways that we can encourage one another to persevere in our Christian walk?
Who in my family, right now, needs the most encouragement to persevere? What am I or are we going to do about it?
These are a few ways to apply love toward our children. Certainly, you can think of several more under each quality. What would they be?