And the Greatest of These is Love...
I wanted to expound on the concept of love and have lots of ideas swimming in my head but I just started sewing project and am eaer to finish it up so I'm going to recycle a post from January on the topic.
I started writing down the things that, without love, become a clanging cymbal and was astonished at the absolute truth of this verse regarding the way I love my husband and children. Without love my discipline becomes punishment. Without love my teaching becomes lecturing. Without love my correction becomes criticism. Without love my expectations become idols and without love my good intentions of glorifying the King become pride. What's a girl to do?
I'm convinced there is not a secret formula that takes years and years of study and practice to figure out; I'm certain the answer lies within the passage that poses the problem. Look a little further down in verse 13, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." God's best, God's most excellent way for me to change the areas that need changing is through love. The answer lies within the question... If I will love the way that God loves, unconditionally and without measure, the rest falls into place. Its no easy task but aren't our children worth it? Who else can you think of that deserves more unabashed and unfiltered love? In Mark we're told how to love God: with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with our strength and I think this translates to our kids too. Here's why: if we loved with only our heart we'd be loving with only emotion and we can't do that all the time because let's face it...they are little villians and sometimes the only emotion there is anger or frustration. In these situations, sometimes our love has to be a decision of will, that's where our mind comes in; we make up our minds to love unconditionally. Similarly, loving isn't always easy and situations get hard and we're tired and we feel unappreciated and so we have to love with all our strength (and interestingly, strength only comes from exercise...). Finally, some parents have a history of abuse or didn't have good examples of unconditional love and they just don't know how to love and I believe that's where our soul comes in. For many of us its the result of the Fall and we're less than perfect and need the help of Someone bigger than our sinful selves. When we pray for the Holy Spirit to teach us how to love as God loves, we are loving with our soul.
So in the end and in my very wordy way, it all comes full circle. Without love we are clanging cymbals. The only way not to be is through...love. And to love as God commands we must do it with our emotions, our soul, our mind and our sheer determination to be obedient. Pray today that God would show you specific ways you can love your children (or anybody in your life) this week. What better way to express God's astounding love and grace than by showering it on someone else.