I sat there on the ground with three sets of tiny arms encircling me and I felt overwhelmed by the love. I had just dropped a box of toys that landed directly on my foot and I was in a lot of pain – and currently praying profusely that I had not broken anything (nothing was, I’m a wimp). And my children jumped into action. One went to get me ice (although she did fight with her sister in the process) another rubbed my foot and asked me sweetly if “mommy was to-tay” as a Paci hung out of her mouth. And then all three started comforting me, hugging me, and rubbing my back. Overwhelmed with their love was an understatement.
Most days, however, I find that love is hard to come by in our house. Children bicker, momma fusses, no one listens – ever (ammi right?!) and at the end of the day I can just feel totally depleted after all of the non-loving interactions that we run into.
So, for the month of February, as we cultivate virtues in our home, I decided that this month should be love. Since it IS the month of the commercialized holiday called valentines day. What better month?
But before we jump into the ‘how’ we must first examine that ‘what’. What is LOVE. And I’m not talking about the mushy, gushy stuff you see in your favorite romcom. I’m talking about true BIBLICAL LOVE.
The simple definition I’d like to start us out with is that true, biblical love is caring for others and expecting nothing in return. Thats right, you heard me, EXPECTING nothing. Not just receiving nothing, but going into whatever love action you are creating without an ounce of expectation. YIKES…
See, love is NOT a feeling. We get the idea that love is a feeling because of all those sappy shows, how we feel when our new baby snuggles against us and our heart just might explode, or the rush we get when we are head over heels in love with our significant other. But, true biblical love is not a feeling at all. It is a commitment. It is a consistent, brave and vunerable commitment in which we give of ourselves for the betterment of someone else. That action, repeated over and over, PRODUCES the feeling of love. But the action must come first.
Let’s break it down with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient (not because someone else is patient. Not because we are gifted with undying patience. But because we make the brave, vulnerable, and consistent choice to be filled with God’s power to BE PATIENT) and kind (once again, not because someone else is. Just because that is LOVE); love does not envy or boast (remember that expecting nothing in return bit?); it is not arrogant (we must approach true biblical love with humility) or rude (see kindness). It does not insist on its own way (selfishness and refusing to hear out another side can not walk hand in hand with true biblical love); it is not irritable (don’t worry – there’s grace to cover this one, but let’s try to tap into the Holy Spirt to avoid the irritability, okay?) or resentful (this goes back to expecting nothing in return), it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but with the truth (I think this one is self explanatory). Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Yikes, I don’t know about y’all but that biblical love seems a little difficult. But when in doubt you can do this, look to Jesus. In John 13 we see an act of humility that gets me every time. After a long, hot, and surly dusty day, the God of the Universe, who had already set aside his priesthood to be on earth with us as flesh and bone, got down on his knees and washed his disciples dirty feet. Did he expect it in return? Nope. Do you think he felt like doing it? I mean he IS Jesus, so maybe? But, I’m going to guess not. And then he wraps it up with the words to live by, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.” (John 13:34).
This proclamation of a new commandment didn’t come after he had done something easy. Nope, it came after he made the brave, vulnerable, and consistent choice to humble himself to wash his friends’ feet. In context it really makes you say, WOW.
He continues to say that by this act of love, we will be known as Christ followers.
Ruh-Roh. Sometimes I examine myself and wonder, can I be seen as a follower and believer of Christ because of the love I show on a daily basis? Sure, maybe to my friends at church or the cashier at the supermarket. But what about where it matters most? Can my husband and children see, REALLY SEE, that I am a believer and follower of Christ because of the commitment to biblical love I display? If I’m honest, probably not.
See, the people we love the most are usually the ones that get the worst of us. They see the real, impatient, sinful and ugly people we can be. Especially if we haven’t eaten or gotten enough sleep.
If our conduct is proof that we love one another and our love is proof we belong to christ – can a fly on the wall know your family knows Christ?
So this month, our focus is on true biblical love and how to cultivate it in your family. Start talking about it with your kids. Start meditating on it in your prayer time. TAP INTO GOD – because He didn’t just create love, He IS love (Colossians 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 3:12 and 4:9). And always remember, the small, tangible moments matter more than you realize. The tabernacle wasn’t built in one grand gesture – but small, intentional details. So, be on the lookout. Encourage your kids to do acts of love and kindness. Point them out and celebrate them. Keep a list to reflect on throughout the month!
Before I let you go I’ll give you some sweet examples from my life:
- my 3 year old brought the 7 year old ice cubes (just ice cubes) when she hurt herself on the swing yesterday.
- My 7 year old brought her daddy a tall glass of water when he was working in the yard last weekend.
- my 5 year old helped my 3 year old make me breakfast. It was epically hilarious so I will include a much needed picture.
Yes, that is a play kitchen tray laden with a beer, three crackers, a couple of crumbs of cotton candy and a marshmallow. Not sure what the spoon was intended for. AH-MAY-ZING!
So, let’s be people that can be seen for knowing Christ. Let us approach February in an intentional way in order to cultivate true biblical love in ourselves and teach it to our children.