Love is Not Words Alone
Published Feb. 14, 2012 @ 10:24 p.m.
If a survey were taken of the most widely known scriptures in the Bible I think John 3:16 and Psalms 23:1 would vie for the top spot. We can all remember “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Most of us have a hard time not “wanting” but few of us can remember when we first learned these words that begin the 23rd Psalm.
Likewise, most of us know the words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Strangely enough, though neither our parents nor our parent’s parents have spoken the King’s English except for when reading the Bible, most of us know that verse in the old King James Version. In this article I would like to explore a practical application of these verses in our own lives.
Of course, most of us think of salvation when we think of John 3:16 and with good reason. But I wonder if you have ever thought about the verse in connection with raising your own children? I know, it’s a strange leap. And yet, as a parent who has a child entering the working world and a child in college; and as a pastor who has watched hundreds of children grow up some to great success and others to horrific tragedies, I find that John 3:16 is one of the best verses about parenting in the Bible. How so? Because John 3:16 reminds us that God has stopped at nothing to tell us those three little word; “I love you.” The most important principle in parenting is that you are able to communicate those three words to your children.
You will notice that it is not enough that you love your children. It is equally important that your children perceive that you love them. A child may act in many ways if they do not perceive that they are loved. Most of the lists of ways that children act out would include drugs, gangs, alcoholism, and withdrawal from the world. But sometimes a child acts out by being driven to success in school, sports, or other activities. The problem is that even when a child chooses to act out using the route to “success” their lives will always be filled with self-doubt, depression, and difficulty relating to their own children as well as spouses and others.
On the other hand, I have seen people make every mistake warned about in those parenting manuals. But because their children are able to perceive that their parents love them all of those mistakes are forgiven and the child grows up happy and well-adjusted.
Men, it is not enough that your sons and daughters know that their mother loves them. I know a young woman whose father rejected her at an early age. As she grew into adulthood she kept seeking relationships with men who were like her father. Unfortunately, she had experienced her father as a jerk and so the men she was drawn to were jerks as well. Subconsciously, she was always trying to find her father and to make him love her this time. Despite children, struggles, divorces, and all that can grow wrong with these kinds of relationships this young woman, even today, continues her destructive behavior. Men, even when you are divorced, it is important that your children know that you love them.
Love is not made up of words. Love is made up of priorities, time and attention. In the modern world these are very precious commodities. Everyone and everything is vying for our time including our families, our jobs and our interests. Even our children live in a world in which their jobs, school, where it is not uncommon for them to live by 6:00am and return home well after 7:00pm. Likewise, everything from the telephone to the television are demanding our attention. It is easy to go with the flow and let others set your agenda and your priorities. Love always comes with great costs. To tell your children that you love them takes strength, discipline, and the willingness to pay the costs. God paid the costs through Jesus. What costs are you willing to pay?