Let’s just face it: as much as we love our kids, there are just times when other stuff (like their behavior) makes us want to beat our heads into the wall. Life, with all it’s interruptions, can sometimes empty our “love tanks” to the point where we’re slurping on Empty when it comes to feeling the warm fuzzies of Love.
We tend to think of Love as a feeling, as the world does. But the Bible portrays love (the Greek word agape) as an action. If we look in 1 Corinthians 13, we find out what love is supposed to look like, the “love chapter” with which we are all familiar.
‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.”
The word “agape” itself is a noun, but, these verses are a series of verbs, action words – actions to take. Did you catch that? “Patient” and “kind” are verbs! This is the way “love” proves itself, by what we do, not by what we feel.
Love is Patient (makrothymeō) verb – “to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart. To persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles, to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others (to be mild and slow in avenging, to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish).” (Strong’s concordance)
Love is kind (chrēsteuomai) verb – “to show one’s self mild, to be kind, use kindness” (Strong’s concordance)
As parents we are to model love not only because Jesus told us to, but because our children will learn what they see. Love, for a parent, is both for today and tomorrow. But it doesn’t mean that we are to be pushovers for our kids, let them get away with ‘murder’ as we keep on biting our tongues patiently… the Bible is quite clear that a parent who loves their child, disciplines their child. ‘Discipline’ being instruction and correction, not simply punishment, but more as in the term “self-discipline”. Training and retraining until the desired end result is apparent. Discipline itself must be subject to the laws of love, particularly in the administrator of discipline (the parent) being slow to anger. Discipline involves reason and control, and a parent who is not self-disciplined and fully in control of their emotions is in no position to administer discipline to teach their children proper behavior.
This sounds pretty difficult to achieve at times, particularly when our children manage to infuriate us on occasion, to our dismay! But look at the biblical definition of patience: “not to lose heart”. No where in the definition of the word ‘patience’ does it say “a warm fuzzy feeling of absolute calm in the face of stress or calamity.” Well, Thank You Lord is all I can say! He doesn’t require that we FEEL a certain way, He requires that we take the actions of not giving up or losing heart, and responding with mildness (not harshly or dangerously) and then applying instruction and correction rather than with retaliation or revenge.
Learning how to love God’s way develops a Heritage for our children and in ourselves. God does understand that this doesn’t come naturally for us; otherwise He wouldn’t have had to “spell it out” quite so carefully. Jesus gave us the law of love over and over in the New Testament, and the writers of the Bible went on to reiterate it over and over. The two main laws for Christianity are to love God with all our heart, mind and soul, and to love others as we love ourselves. “Others” includes our children and our spouses in particular, because they have been given to us by the Lord. Other relationships we can choose, but that of our spouse and children is God-given!
I read something one time that I try to implement. It said to try replacing the word “love” in 1 Corinthians 13 with your own name, as in, “I am patient, I am kind…” Try it. It’s a great litmus test, your heart will tell you quickly if you’re meeting this standard or not.