4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails… (1 Corinthians 13:4-8; NIV)
The passage above is familiar to a lot of us even if we are not the bible student we should be. This passage is often read at weddings to demonstrate the love between husband and wife and how the two should endeavor to live their lives. There is nothing wrong with this and I certainly believe that a marriage needs to be founded on God’s word and needs to reflect what He has taught us.
The same is true, however, as we consider how we love our children and grandchildren. Love is something not easily taught and is nearly impossible to teach if it is not demonstrated in our own lives. So how do we teach them to love? How do we demonstrate love in our own lives? Let’s answer these questions by doing a quick exercise someone had me do in years past.
I want you to take the above passage and substitute the word “love” with your name. Take some time and write it down. It should look something like “Shane is patient, Shane is kind…” After you write it down, take some time to read it and think about it. How does it make you feel? What does it make you think?
If you are anything like me, you are going to feel uncomfortable. When I did this exercise, what I found is that I became a liar…these things were simply not true about me. Not all the time anyways and sometimes not even some of the time. It was sobering and it left me thinking “How can I teach my children about love? I can’t even love for myself!”
Then I realized, that was my problem. For so long and for different reasons, I believed this was the standard for what love should be in my life. That, in fact, is true. What I failed to understand, however, is that it is a standard I cannot meet…that no man or woman ever could. There is only One who ever could…Who did…Who continually does…Jesus Christ.
This passage describes the measureless love of God demonstrated to us in the life of Jesus. Take the passage again but this time insert Christ’s name in the place of “love”. Read the passage again and see how true this is!
Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. Jesus does not envy, Jesus does not boast, Jesus is not proud. Jesus is not rude, Jesus is not self-seeking, Jesus is not easily angered, Jesus keeps no record of wrongs. Jesus does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Jesus always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Jesus never fails…
With this in front of us, we now understand how to teach our children about love. We are reminded of a love we cannot produce and of a love we cannot resist – GOD’S love! As we receive God’s love and continually renew our minds with God’s word, our lives will be transformed. The actions, within this transformed life, will demonstrate to our children what love is and looks like. They will understand the source of love is God because He is love. They will be drawn to Him and to His word. And there, they will find love and begin their own journey in truly loving through reflecting the image of Jesus in their relationships and their lives.