“But faith, hope, love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love (I Cor. 13:13).“ In the middle of a discussion on spiritual gifts Paul explains that the greatest gift which the Spirit gave was the gift of love. Love is of such great importance that without it all other gifts/works are rendered pointless. “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing (I Cor. 13:1-3).” Love is something that is used frequently in our culture, but is rarely truly understood. Today we use love rather flippantly. One can love the color blue, dogs, cats, or horses. One can love pizza, ice cream of chocolate. One can love their parents, children, or spouse. And one can love a good friend and one can love God. We might even understand that these loves are naturally not the same as the another. Loving an inanimate object or a color should never be the same as loving a spouse or a child. But, in this mixed up world we have gotten confused over what love really is. Hollywood can have a person fall out of love and then in love in just over 1.5 hours. It gives the false impression that the love that lasts is a love the catches fire quickly. But this love is like gasoline While it catches fire quickly it also burns out quickly. Diesel on the other hand, does not easily ignite but burns for a long time. The love of the bible is a love that burns for along time. It should not be easily extinguished. Because of this mass confusion on genuine love it has become imperative that we teach our children about the greatest gift of all. For the purpose of this article, I want to remind you of the importance of teaching the right kind of love in three different facets of our lives; a love towards God, a love towards the fellow saints and a love towards those outside the body of Christ.
If you ask the average Christian if they love God they will no doubt say yes. Even if you ask that same Christian on the worst day of his life if he loves God he will say yes. If you ask the weakest Christian if they love God, they again will say yes. If you ask the person deeply steeped in denominational Christianity if they love God, you will again get the answer yes. I have no doubts that the people of this world love God. What I doubt is that many people of the world know how to properly manifest that love. Years ago there was a song called Tenderness written by Steppenwolf. This song was about the love between an abusive husband and his wife. The point of the song was the husband has to learn how to love his wife. He was shown incorrectly as a child and repeated the behaviors of his father. Likewise, many Christians today love God, but they don’t know how to love. Manifesting our love is about commandment keeping. Jesus once said, “If you love me keep my commandments (John 14:15). By teaching your children to be obedient to the commandments of the Lord you are not teaching them a legalistic approach to Christianity, you are teaching them how to properly love God. This is done in word and in deed. Don’t teach your children to just do as you say, but teach them to do what you do.
Not only are we to love God, but we are also to love our fellow saints. So important is this love that John wrote, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen (I John 4:20).” It is not possible to actually love God without loving the brethren. Too often I have heard statements like the bible says I have to love him, but nowhere does it say I have to like him. I am firmly convinced that this stems from the false premise that the love of the bible is merely a choice. Yes, there is a choice to make. But the love of the bible is a sacrificial love. Are you will to give of yourself to someone you don’t like? No. No you won’t. None of us would die for one we don’t like. Even the bible says that (Rom. 5:7). Do your children see you loving like this? Or do they hear you constantly grumbling about the preacher, the preacher’s wife, or some other member of the church?
Finally, we need to love strangers (or those outside the body of Christ). Did you know that in the Greek the word hospitable literally means love of strangers. Just as our love toward those in the body of Christ is about sacrifice and service so is the love of everyone else. How active in the community are you? Do your children see you serving others? Or do they find you using every spare moment watching TV?
Parents, our children need direction, let us not fail to point them in the right direction.
Grinnell church of Christ
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Leading With Purpose: Teach Your Children About Love
Volume 4 Issue 35