By Benny Bristow
As we allow our thoughts to go further into what is involved in rearing a family for the Lord, we must also consider the important concept of love. Love is the beautiful wrapping that encloses all other virtues in a family. Since God Himself is love, how could a family be designated as a family for the Lord without it? When God adds to our family children, one by one, He is issuing with each addition, a challenge to develop and promote love. Try to imagine that when a child is given to us, that such is like a new canvas on which a picture has never been painted. God hands us the paints and brushes and says, “paint for me a masterpiece of love.” This is our greatest challenge because the more we paint love, the closer we keep them to God. Each stroke of the brush gives them the qualities they need to be successful in life—now and forever.
The power of love in our families cannot be overestimated. In the words of one writer: “Love is the purification of the heart from self; it strengthens and ennobles the character, gives a higher motive and a nobler aim to every action of life, and makes both man and woman strong, noble and courageous; and the power to love truly and devotedly is the noblest gift with which a human being can be endowed.” (Miss Jeusbury)
As we parents show love to our children in our own lives, we must also teach and enforce the characteristics of love. Love is not simply a beautiful word to be defined, but rather a way of life to be experienced. Instead of defining love, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 what love will do. What will be taught to our children when we teach them love?
LOVE WILL SHARE
Love will teach our children the meaning of sharing and the awfulness of selfishness. This is not easy since most children become very possessive of those things that belong to them. The words “my” and “mine” are big and important words in their vocabularies. However, love teaches the proper balance between the balance of self and sharing with others. Jesus our Lord is the greatest example to keep before our children to teach them to share with others: “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).
LOVE HAS GOOD MANNERS
One of the challenges faced by parents is to teach their children good manners, and the many positive characteristics of love will promote this. Love provides the proper environment for all other attributes of life to grow and bear fruit. If your children are taught not to envy, not to boast or be full of pride, and not to be rude, not self-seeking, and not easily angered, do you not believe that they will have good manners? Remember, these traits and others are present when love abounds.
LOVE IS UNSELFISH
Selfishness can be a great problem in the family unless love is present to turn things around. For some strange reason, children will often show less selfishness outside the family than in it, and this is where love must be taught. As we teach our children love, there will be times when we feel that love has failed, but it has not! You see, love is a positive virtue and it stays alive and strong even when buried among childish ways. Think about the following illustration:
A man once parked his car on a street. Up came a boy and looked it over. His eyes were wide with admiration of the beautiful car.
“Where did you get this car?” he asked, “My brother gave it to me,” replied the man. “My, I wish. . . “The man knew the boy was wishing that he had a new car like that.
But the lad went on and finished the sentence surprisingly; “I wish I could be a brother like your brother was. I have a crippled brother who cannot get out. I would buy him a car like this.”
Remember, sooner or later love (when taught as God would have it taught) will shine through, because love is unselfish.
Therefore, if you seek a family for the Lord, you must make your home an environment of love. “Happy are the families where the government of the parents is the reign of affection and obedience of the children the submission of love.” Would you seek to have a family for the Lord? “A happy family is but an early heaven.” (Bowring)
- Benny Bristow, The Christian Bible Teacher; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com