Love Your Children Well

A friend of mine lost his three year old son this week. He went to sleep and simply never woke up. It is a tragedy beyond my understanding, and one I pray that I would never fully comprehend. As I pray for God’s comfort and peace and hope to surround my friend and his family, it’s only natural to feel a new layer of love for my children grow. 

I want my son and daughter not only to know that I love them. I want them to feel loved. While we should not live by our “feelings,” God gave them to us, and feelings are not inherently bad or shallow or trite. 

This is something I struggle with, because I’m not much of a “feeler.” Most people who know me know I’m not a particularly emotional person and that I tend to be fairly matter-of-fact. But with my family, it is one of my greatest prayers that they would not simply know that I love them… I pray that they would feel how much I love them. 

The greatest thing a parent can do for his/her children is to love them well.  
If my kids are well-behaved but don’t feel loved by me, then I have failed them. If my kids are ridiculously smart but they believe my love for them is conditional, depending on how well they are “performing,” then I have failed them. I could almost picture the Apostle Paul including this type of scenario into 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

In the midst of discipline, does love reign?
As a Christian dad I do not have the “luxury” of neglecting to discipline my kids because it’s easier (in the short-term). Loving your kids doesn’t mean there is no “law” or that rules are absent. But it does mean that love is freely given despite my kids’ worthiness or unworthiness. Instead, I love my children unconditionally because I know I am loved by my Heavenly Father. Personally, I think I learn more about love when I’m in the throes of discipline than when I’m laughing with my kids – because that’s when I need to remember how uniquely God loves me. 

Questions I’ve been wrestling with over the past few days:

  • Do I discipline out of love and desire to see my children desire faithfulness to God, or out of a heavy-handed authority that demands law-abiding, rule-keeping children?
  • What if God treated me the way I sometimes treat my children? 
    That thought should terrify me…
  • What if I loved my children the way God loves me? 
    That thought should bring joy to my children… 

 

6 thoughts on “Love Your Children Well

  1. I am very sorry to hear about your friend’s son Mike. That is so devastating. The more I think about my daughter and how much I love her, the more I feel how deeply our kind Father loves us. And I agree, God’s love does include the law (according to Wesley), but we should always temper it with grace. Luther said that God has two hands (in the right hand is love; in the left wrath), but that He is right-handed! I think ever day my love grows deeper for my daughter. If this is the case, how far and high and deep is the Father’s love for us. I know you friend’s son is with our Father in heaven. Check out my blog if your interested in theology: http://www.joshvalley.wordpress.com

  2. Discipline, rightly understood, is a form of wisdom. If it is not a form of wisdom, then it cannot be used to impart wisdom.Discipline has correction in view, while punishment does not have to. Punishment is about retribution; discipline is about correction. The Bible teaches us that parents are to discipline their children, not punish them.

    Sin has disrupted fellowship in the family.There are two ways this can go wrong. If there is no fellowship to begin with, it is hard to restore it. A child who does not want back into the garden of fellowship may be living outside the garden all the time. Secondly, if discipline is meted out in anger then this simply adds to the disruption of fellowship, and we didn’t really need any more disruption.

    We need to remember this is always to be pointing to Jesus. You don’t earn your justification by undergoing discipline. Rather, you receive the gift of (sanctifying) discipline as a result of the gift of free grace.

    • Discipline is a necessary expression of parental love. The main thing I’ve been wrestling with is asking myself “Is this loving?” in the midst of discipline. Because, ultimately, this post isn’t about discipline at all… it’s about love.

      • Discipline Is Love:
        The Bible states this both ways. It is said positively—“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” (Heb. 12:6). The principle is stated negatively just a moment later. “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Heb. 12:8). “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (Prov. 13:24).

      • None of those equate love and discipline as being the same thing. “For God so disciplined the world…” (John 3:16) doesn’t work. Yes, love will discipline, but “love is the greatest.” (1 Cor 13:13).

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