“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NAS).
As a new parent, I feel the responsibility that comes with this verse. But I don’t just want Gordon to grow up to be a good man, I want him to be a godly man. I want him to know God intimately and to follow Him all the days of his life—and for that, I have to purposefully share my faith with him.
Most parents don’t think of themselves as ministers, but we most definitely are! It is our responsibility to minister to our children—to actually share the good news of the Bible with them. Unfortunately, many parents don’t feel equipped to do this or simply don’t know when and where to begin—and I get it! I mean, how do you make your 4-year-old understand the concept of an all-powerful, all-knowing God who came to earth in the form of man so we can have a relationship with Him? It’s not an easy task! It’s also not a one-and-done activity. It takes time for children (and adults) to understand even the most basic truths of our awesome God. But by sharing your faith with your little one, you’re laying a foundation that he can build on for the rest of his life.
The world loves to love. Every TV show, movie, magazine, and commercial tells us that all types of relationships are healthy and good. Whether it’s the young couple who live together before marriage or the man who cheats on his wife with his beloved mistress, everything is acceptable as long as we invoke the word love. And to support this belief, the world actually quotes Scripture: “God is love.”
This must be the most-quoted verse in the Bible, but what does it mean?
The world would define this verse in one of three ways:
God is love — God is a big softy. Like a sweet old grandfather in the sky, God will welcome everyone into Heaven in the end, regardless of their beliefs or how they lived.
God loves — God loves when we love, regardless of who, what, or how we love.
Love is God — Whenever we love someone or something, we are being godly, and our actions are holy.
Many people have come to worship this easy-going-but-not-holy god of the all-encompassing modern love. But what does the Bible mean when it says, “God is love”?
What the Bible Says
Let’s look at this in context:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:7-9 NAS).
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:15-17 NAS).
Let’s break this down:
Jesus is the embodiment of God’s love for us.
When we believe in Jesus, we believe in God’s love, and God dwells within us.
Love—true, real, honest-to-goodness love—comes from God within us.
God’s love gives us confidence that we are part of His family.
There will be a day of judgment, but we’ll receive mercy because of Jesus and His love.
As believers, we should love God and one another.
And how do we love God?
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:3-5 NAS).
The love God gives us is apparent in our lives when we observe His commandments. The result of that love is that we overcome the world through faith in Jesus.
Breaking the Idol of Worldly Love
The world has created an idol out of modern-day love, convinced they can do no wrong when love is involved—or at least their definition of love.
But the Bible’s definition of love is different. It’s the kind of love that pinned Jesus to the cross for our sake, and the kind of love that brought Him up from the grave. It does not exist without Jesus. It’s sacrificial. It’s often painful. It’s you-first-and-me-second. And it’s meant to be enjoyed within the bounds God set for us in His Word.
It’s true that much of the Gospel can be summed up in the simple statement, “God is love.” This week, I encourage you to read 1 John 4 and meditate on its words. Make sure your heart and your actions are in the right place by praying something like this:
“God, thank you for your love. Please help me to see if I’ve made an idol out of worldly love and, if I have, please forgive me. Help me to love you, not just with my heart but with my actions. And help me to love others as you love them. In the name of Jesus, Your blessed Son. Amen.”
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NAS).
Do you find these words challenging or comforting? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below or send me a message. God bless you this week!
I asked Robby what he wanted to do to celebrate his first Father’s Day. His answer: take a nap. (Oh the life of a new parent!) After some thinking, though, he decided it would be nice to indulge in a local buffet that features Southern-style cooking. I suggested we stroll Gordon around the nearby duck pond and, voila, we had a whole afternoon planned. Although he never got that nap, we all had a great time together.
When we found a couple duck families at the pond, I was probably the most excited. We all watched as the little fluff-ball ducklings waddled back and forth in the rocks and grass. At one point, a few of the ducklings must have followed the wrong mama because when the other duck quacked, they took off running toward her. It was so precious!
Have you ever seen a duck call to her ducklings and then corral them under her wings to protect them from a predator? I have, and it’s nothing short of amazing that a dozen babies can hide under one small duck! I’ve always associated this sweet image with the ultimate, protective mother.
But would it surprise you to learn that God used this same image to describe Himself?
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matthew 23:37 NAS).
In this verse, Jesus was talking to the scribes and Pharisees, the leaders of the Jewish people. He was calling them out for their history of killing God’s spokesmen, the prophets.
But what interests me so much about this passage is that Jesus is speaking in the first person…
“How often I wanted to gather your children together…and you were unwilling.”
In one simple sentence, Jesus reminds us that He existed as the Son of God long before He was born in the flesh and given the name of Jesus. In fact, the Son of God was never created but has been part of the Trinity forever. (See John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:15-17.)
Jesus also reminds us that He shares the heart of the Father through the Holy Spirit. They are always in agreement, and they have longed to gather God’s chosen people in their arms, to protect and to love them. And the great news is that we, God’s followers, are His chosen ones. (See John 5:19-20.)
If we were to ask God what He wants this Father’s Day, I believe He would reference Matthew 23:37. He would tell us how much He still longs to gather us in His arms, but we are often unwilling. We’re too busy. Too tired. Too hard-hearted or angry or….anything but willing.
Whatever you’ve done in your life, remember that God loves you beyond measure. There is nothing you could have done that outweighs the sacrifice Jesus made of Himself on the cross. If you’ve been resisting God in any way—flailing around like a little chick in tall grass or, worse yet, following the wrong leader—then I encourage you to stop. Respond to God when He calls your name, and let Him tuck you under His wings. Let the Creator of the Universe draw you unto Himself. Allow Him to protect you and love on you.
After all, it is Father’s Day, and your Heavenly Father is waiting.
For more Father’s Day-inspired reading, check out these posts: