UPDATE: It’s vital that we comprehend the way God listens, understands, loves and disciplines us as His children. Not only will it enable us to apply God’s perspective on parenting to our own children, it will give us insight as believers on how to communicate with one another. We are called by God to love our neighbors, and let’s be honest, love is sometimes easier said than done. Consider how you can apply these lessons to your own family . . . and in all your relationships. — Jentezen
Listen | Understand | Love | Discipline
God loves us. We know He loves us. We read it over and over again in the Scriptures. What we need to pay attention to as parents is why and how He loves us, so that we can apply those principles in our families.
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16 NKJV).
Why does God love us? Because that is the essence of who He is. God is love. It has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Him. So the first lesson we learn is nothing about our children determines our love for them. Not who they become, the choices they make, the way they look … there are no qualifiers for our children to receive our love. We love them because of who we are—their parents.
So what does this unwavering love of God establish? 1 John 3:1 reads, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.” The Father loves us and we are His children. God’s love for us establishes His family. What better foundation for a home than unmerited love? Be parents who say, “No matter what, I love you!”
How does God love us? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He showed love like this: when you couldn’t do anything for me, I did everything for you! I can’t help but think of sweet, Amelia, my granddaughter. Without the arms of her parents, and grandparents, of course, she is a helpless child. She can’t do a thing for us. But in reality, she does so much just by being here. She’s enlarged our family; created more love, and become one more daughter the Father wants to take care of.
“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).
God shows love through His sacrifice for us. He loved us first, before we loved Him back! What are other ways God loves His children?
- He is full of mercy (Ephesians 2:4).
- He is patient and gracious (Psalm 86:15).
- He’s there when we need Him because He cares (1 Peter 5:7).
- He gives us confidence and security (Romans 8:37-39).
What can you do to establish this same love with your children?
- Be more patient, slow to anger and willing to forgive. Remember their frame—they are but children, no matter how old. Home is their safety net.
- Listen, hug, kiss and comfort them more. Our affection as parents builds up their confidence and self-worth.
- Be there! Do they know they can bring their hopes and dreams as well as their fears and worries to you? Listening and being intentional with our time is important.
- Encourage them. Knowing nothing can separate us from God’s love gives us confidence to conquer, to be fearless and courageous. Give that same confidence to your children. Tell them you believe in them and will stand by them, always.
Now go love on your kids! If it feels uncomfortable and foreign to you, take some time to bask in the love of the Father. As you receive God’s love and understand how much He cares for you, it will become easier to give love to those around you.