February is the month of love. Valentine’s Day in our culture defines love as a feeling or emotion. People can fall into love and out of love because according to romantic comedies love is a decision rather than a commitment.
Biblically, we see love defined as a commitment that requires work and investment. It is a commitment to pursue and put another person before yourself. Love is something that cannot come from our own strength but must be empowered by God’s grace through the Holy Spirit’s work in and through us. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ESV, Paul defines love as “patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, and endures all things.”
However, we are at times not patient nor kind. Our kids can be rude and want their own way just like we can. Our kids can celebrate when their sibling gets in trouble just like we celebrate when our rival is met with difficulty. Yet in the midst of a home where at times biblical love can be pushed to the side in favor of promotion of self, how can we cultivate love in our families?
1. Rely on the grace of God. None of us are perfect at loving. We need the love of God through the Holy Spirit to fill and guide us to put our family members before ourselves and to love them well.
2. Realize the long-term calling of love. Paul uses the words “bears” and “endures” to describe love. These are not words that make good Hallmark cards because they point to the difficulty of love. There are moments where we, like our family, are hard to love, yet we continue to pursue love because Jesus pursued us by His love even when we were unlovable.
3. Rest in Jesus’ perfect love. On the days when we have struggled to love well, we remember that Jesus’ perfect love covers us. Jesus is in the business of making us new – people who love without bounds and express His great love to our families only by His grace.
-Dr. Ben Birdsong
Missions Minister at Christ Church Birmingham
Writer and Speaker