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September 19, 2011

Fruits of the Spirit Series: LOVE


When asking for ideas about blog posts it was suggested that I write a series on the fruits of the Spirit. I thought that was a great idea (thanks Sherri!) 

What better place to start than with the first fruit of the Spirit.....LOVE. Wow....a little word with HUGE meaning!

1 Corinthians 13 is a famous scripture about love, and rightly so. It is packed with explanation of what real love is!

Love (loving) is a word that is a commonly used around our home, as well as are the phrases that demonstrate love in 1 Corinthians 13. Words/ phrases like, "love is not rude, have patience, be kind, think of others first, be humble, say good things about your sibling, and you need to be happy for your brother/sister (does not seek it's own).

But if we want teach our children to love one another we have to model love in our own lives, in our relationship with our spouse and children and those we come in contact with. We need can't just tell our children what love is, we also need to show them. So once again, it starts with our hearts! So many times when I have been frustrated about our child being less than loving, God gently reminds me that I am struggling with the same thing, just in a different way.  It's so easy to pick at someone else's faults, especially our children's and not even see that need to deal with a similar issue in my own heart!

Now I am not saying that we should wait to train/discipline our children until we have it all together. But our children need to at least be able to see that we are working on our hearts too. This is how we will be able to best disciple our children.

In a family, no matter what the size, there are always plenty of opportunities to practice love! Thats why family is such a great place! What a great opportunity our children have, to love right in the safety of our own home! Think of what a great preparation for the future this is. What a great husband/wife or parent they will be when they learn to love as God asks us to! Remember, we are not just training our children for the here and now, we are training them for the future and for future generations. And even though we will enjoy the peace and harmony in a home filled with love, our motivation to love is to bring glory to God and in doing so we will be a testimony to others of the One Who's love is perfect! "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

I would encourage you to hang up the 1 Corinthians 13 scripture in your home. It will be a great tool to use when talking about love to your children and a great reminder for everyone, including yourself!

Talk often of Biblical love. Use the words found in scripture. Be kind vs don't be mean, be gentle vs don't be so rough, have patience vs wait, that was prideful vs it's not all about you! And so on. There is power in the Word of God! So use it!

I could say so much about love and how important it is to teach your children to love their parents, love their siblings and love their neighbors. Love is huge! Love is powerful and as the Bible says, love will cover a multitude of sin. (1 Peter 4:8) If we don't know how to love, we will not find true fulfillment in our walk with God, for He is love. If we don't know how to love, we will have a hard time receiving the love of God. 

Now to the practical how's of teaching your children to love each other. In our family it is a full time job to keep on top of it and be sure that there is love among everyone. And I must say that the earlier you teach your children to love each other, the easier this task will be!

As soon as our babies start to interact, we work on teaching them to love. If a baby pulls your hair (or others) or if they poke your eyes out or slap your face we pull their hands away and firmly say " be gentle"! If they keep doing this and seem to need a little more "encouragement" we squeeze their hand or arm. It is never, ever OK to hurt someone so why would we want to let our babies start this habit? Don't underestimate your baby, they are smart little cookies!

Ok, so let's move on to a toddler who hits his sibling or pushes them down. Again, be firm, talk about love and gentleness and after being warned if they continue to hit, give them some form of punishment. If you catch it right away, you will diffuse a lot of problems later on, because nastiness left unheeded will not just go away, it will grow.

So now we have a 5-12 yr old. I find with boys, they most often seem to use physical force to make a point, where as girls usually have what I call "cat fights".....they use words to hurt each other.

We do several things with older boys who decide to use physical force to get their point across. One of our favorites when we have two boys fighting, would be that they would have to hold hands until we say to stop. As silly as this sounds, it is quite effective. The 2 involved are usually quite upset at each other, but once they have to hold hands and continue on in their daily routine (chores or playing) they soon have to learn to co-operate and it doesn't take too long until they are laughing and buddies again! But the key is we won't let them stop holding hands until they are OK with each other! But we will never let a malicious act go unpunished. If this is the case, we know there are serious issues in the heart that need to be dealt with. With older kids there is no need to give a warning when they hurt someone. They know that hurting someone is not acceptable and it should be punished immediately! 

Now if our girls offend their siblings with words, we will often get them to say 5 or 10 nice things to each other to make up for the nasty things they said! The offended loves this! But the offender.... not so much! Words can be very hurtful and we don't treat unkind words lightly. Our kids are no allowed to say things like "I'm not going to be your friend anymore"  or "your mean" or "I don't like you (or hate you) or "I'm not going to play with you anymore." Those are unkind words and they do not go unpunished. I am not saying that only girls say mean things to each other, but more often than boys.

And after the age of 12 there can still be many non-love issues, but they are often a little more sneaky and subtle.....nasty looks, rude comments, unacceptable tone of voice, ignoring someone.....as a parent it is important for you to watch out for these things. Talk them through. Take the two (or more) who are having a hard time loving each other and help them to work it out. When there is love in the home there is harmony. And harmony is a very beautiful thing. So work toward it, work hard!

So as you go about your days, think about Biblical love. Think about our greatest example of love. Let the desire to have a loving home burn in your heart. Pray for harmony often. Encourage your children when you see them do an act of love. Tell them you are proud of them. Discourage the unacceptable behavior, praise the good. When your family is full of love, it will be a testimony to others. It will point others to the One who is True Love! That should be our goal.

This is a very broad subject and I realize I could only cover very few issues. If you have any questions, or comments please feel free :)


The Munck Family said...

What a good series for those in need of direct and advice. I'm sure it will be a blessing :)

Hugs ~

Anonymous said...

Good practical advice Rosalie... thanks! Hope you are feeling well and I look forward to more in the 'fruit of the Spirit' series :) Merla

Débora said...

Dear Rosalie! Great to hear that you expecting a baby! I'm still following your blog! Would love to know you in real! (-;

Alli said...

love this blog :) so refreshing and reminding. and i really like how you break down the 'how to' for the different age groups. have a great Sunday!