At this point in their lives, my children are each other’s best friend. They can play together for hours in their own little imaginary world. It is one of this momma’s favorite things to watch. But of course, then there are those moments when an angry cry reaches my ear. For whatever reason, one sibling is extremely upset with the other. And yes, sometimes this involves screams, hitting, pinching, etc. Invariably, this happens when I am in the midst of cooking dinner… when I don’t always have the patience or time to deal with conflict in a perfectly diplomatic way (I’m sure none of you can relate to that).
In John 13:34 – 35 Jesus says, “I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.” And later in John 15:12-13 he says, “My commandment to you is this: love others as I have loved you. There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends.”
Loving one another with a selfless, serving, sacrificial love as Christ would have us is not innate for any of us. And we shouldn’t expect it to be natural for our children either (even if they enjoy being together much of the time as my children do). We must teach them about Christ’s love, model what loving others may look like, and give them opportunities to love others well. Our families are beautiful laboratories for this experiential learning and growth.
When you teach them how to respond to each other in spite of their anger, you are teaching them how to love one another.
When you talk kindly to your spouse or friends and enjoy them, you are modeling for them how to love one another.
When you spend time playing and laughing with your children (even when you don’t feel you have time), you are teaching them how to love one another.
When you see a need in another’s life and you work to fulfill the need, you are teaching them how to love one another. And when you let them partner with you in fulfilling that need, you are giving them opportunities to express love to another.
And when you ask Christ to help you love someone who might not be easy to love, you are showing them that this love thing isn’t always natural, but it’s vital, and that Christ will help us to love well.
The truth is… as we teach them to love, we are also teaching them to change the world… but more on that next week.
Mom and Dad, what are some other ways we might teach our children and teens how to love others well? Is there someone you know that might have a specific need (physical or emotional) whom you and your children could partner together to love well?
Father God, loving others well isn’t easy. It definitely doesn’t come natural. Would you soften our hearts to love those around us well? Would you open our eyes to the people around us that need some extra love and kindness at this time? Please give us ideas on how we can love them well. And help us to love our children well, laying down our lives for them as you did for us, that they might get a glimpse of your perfect love for them. Amen.