February is the month for l’amour, as the French would say.
We send cards both serious and sappy, we eat chocolates and strawberries, and decorate hearts to give to those we love. For many, Valentine’s Day is just another day for Hallmark to make its millions, for others it is an opportunity to show love and affection to those who matter most to us.
Our family loves Valentine’s Day.Our motto is, “The gaudier the better,” and I certainly don’t mind another excuse to go on a date with my man. But Valentine’s Day also promotes the concept of love, and gives us a wonderful opportunity to teach our kids (and remind ourselves) a few things about true love.
Most importantly when we talk about love we must begin with God because true love comes from God.
3 Things I Want Our Kids to Know About Love
1. True Love Comes From God
As much as I love romantic movies where everything is tied up in a pretty little bow at the end, it does not portray what true love really is. And while my kids enjoy fairy tales they need to know that those stories are simply that, stories.
If we want a picture of true love we need our children to look to God.
In Him they will see love perfectly displayed. God is so very patient with us despite our sins, he is kind and encouraging in the midst of our failures and doubts, and he comforts us when we are hurting or fearful. Ultimately, it is his love that moved him to save us (Eph. 2:4-5).
Christ died not in order to make God love us, but because He did love His people. Calvary is the supreme demonstration of Divine love. Whenever you are tempted to doubt the love of God, Christian reader, go back to Calvary.
The reason we look to God for a true picture of love is because God does not simply show love, He is love. (1Jn. 4:16). It is a part of His nature and he cannot go against His nature.
2. True Love is self-sacrificing
Love is not just some fuzzy emotion that makes you feel all warm and gooey, as many Jr. High and High School TV shows seem to indicate.
True love is action and this action is done, not in order to get, but in order to give. True love exists on the opposite pole of selfishness. It is putting someone before yourself. It is giving up something so someone else can have it instead. It is sharing because you know the joy it will bring the other person. It is sacrificing time in order to spend it with someone who is hurting.
All of this is done without expecting something in return. True love does not need a “Thank You” card.
We see the craziest and best kind of self sacrifice in Christ laying down his life for us so we could be saved. It doesn’t get any more selfless than that. (Romans 5:8)
You can always give without loving, but you can never love without giving.
– Amy Carmichael
3. True Love is hard
Loving others is not for the faint of heart. Siblings can be annoying and self-centered, and friends can be thoughtless and mean at times. To be loving in the midst of unkindness, inconsideration, or selfishness is hard. It’s hard because we are all these things as well. We are not the picture of perfection and so our sin gets in the way of loving others.
But showing love to others is also hard because it requires much of us. It requires that we do not retaliate, that we exercise self control, that we forgive and that we repay evil with good (1 Peter 3:9).
When we consider this kind of love, it is overwhelming.
In fact, this kind of love is impossible apart from Christ. We can only begin to understand love and love others when we first trust in God’s love for sinners. Only then can we love God, and only then can we love others who are just like us.
This is what I want my children to understand about true love.