The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 13:5 exposes three patterns that are the enemy of loving your children. These patterns bring anger, frustration and brokenness. They are also connected; one leads to the other. Let’s look at each one:
Love is not self-seeking
It is foolish to assume that what pleases you and what pleases God are one and the same. For example, do you want a house that is quiet and orderly? Why? Because that is pleasant to you? Or do you want a house full of energy and exuberance? Again, why? If your goal is to satisfy your own preferences and personality, you are not setting an example of love. The goals you set for your home must first and foremost reflect God’s direction in his Word. That means that you will be setting an example of serving others sacrificially, not indulging your own preferences or traditions.
Love is not easily angered
One indication that you are seeking your way is being easily angered. When what you want is rejected, anger flows. If you find yourself being easily angered, either internally or outwardly, something other than love is uppermost in your heart. James’ advice here is practical and pointed – be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. His reasoning for this is clear – man’s anger does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). Your anger may motivate your children to do what you want, but it is certain that it will not produce what God wants.
Love keeps no record of wrongs
This one is a challenge. After all, training children requires addressing wrong behavior over and over and over and …. How can you be consistent in training and discipline without keeping a record of wrongs? You must remind yourself daily that each opportunity to train your children in righteousness is a fresh opportunity to call them to trust Christ. Keeping a list of wrongs is different than addressing ongoing patterns of disobedience. For example, saying , “how many times have I told you not to do that?” errs on the side of keeping a record of wrongs, and is not loving. Instead, hold up the standard of righteousness. “Remember how God wants you to respond? Let’s ask him to help you ….”
Compassionately reminding your children of the battle against the deeds of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) and pointing them to their need of Christ when sinful actions reoccur puts things in a positive and loving perspective. There are sins in your life that are constant. To defeat them you need to daily trust the mercy and grace of Jesus, not beat yourself up. It is the same in dealing with your children’s recurring sin patterns.
As you turn away from serving your own agenda anger will not so easily flare up and the list of wrongs will become an opportunity to bring the gospel to your children.
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This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.