If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthian 13:1-8
God has been pounding this into me for a few months now and using my children to do it. As you know, he's been showing me His heart is toward His children, including myself. I believe that our children are not just brought to us to fill a desire to be a parent one day, or just so we can potentially raise more disciples, or to experience those sweet joys that children bring. Those are valid reasons, but not all of them. They are also brought to us so that we can hopefully come to grips at the magnitude of God's love for us personally.
One of my children has lately been my biggest parenting challenge as she is my most strong-willed and independent of the three. I think she really believes that her way is always the right way, and that her mommy has really lost her mind when it comes to asking things of her. When she knows she's in trouble, she runs away, and isn't really open to instruction or correction yet. It seems to just bounce right off of her. When she is being asked to do something, she always gives her opinion of what she wants to do instead or how she thinks she should do it. When it's my idea to ask for a hug or kiss, only half the time she responds to it well. And sadly, she's even said some things lately that indicate that she doesn't feel very loved all the time. It really is heartbreaking when it comes down to it. And I take full responsibility for the lack of love that she can receive or the false conceptions she has of my love for her. I am human and have obviously made many mistakes as a parent, and am already facing the consequences for it through having a child who doesn't completely trust my love toward her at the age of 4.
So here's the kicker....aren't we that same way as God's children though? Why do we disobey Him, run from Him, doubt His love for us, not want to spend daily time with him, etc.? Those things are a bi-product of us just simply not trusting His heart toward us...or receiving His love for us the way He is trying to give it out freely. Yet the difference between Him and me is, His love is perfect! It knows no bounds, it is always there waiting to scoop us up into the safety of His arms, to drive out fear, to drive out shame, to drive out the things that keep us bound within ourselves. It brings rest in our hearts, a safe place for us to go, boldness in our confessions and repentance, therefore it brings us freedom from ourselves...and directly into the Christ-filled life that He promises, and we can't help but pour it out into others because we are overflowing with it...but only if we receive all of Him into all of us. All!
My love for my children is actually very limited because I live in the flesh still. We as human flesh are pretty conditional lovers. But I actually had a glimpse recently of what happens when I was able to receive God's love fully, and it was amazing! I was able to pour out endless grace to my children, love them unconditionally, discipline with love, not a hint of anger came out, I put my own selfishness and hurts aside, and was able shower love to my kids from the depths of my heart. They were spotless in my eyes...and that is exactly how God sees us always. But when I'm allowing guilt, fear, shame and condemnation come upon myself, that is what comes out to others, mainly my husband and kids. I start doing things that make them feel the same way. So how do I stop it before it starts? Receive God's love for me fully.
So when it all comes down to it, what we are receiving from the Father, is ultimately gonna come out to those around us. What is coming out of you? God's love...or the opposite of!