The Great Love of the Father
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 (NIV) “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Eph 3:16-20 (NIV) “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”
I’m 52 years old and only recently have I begun to grasp that God’s love for me is patient, kind, etc. In fact, in my prayer journal I posted this note describing God’s love for me: “My love for Ivan is patient, kind, is not rude, it keeps me from being easily angered at Ivan. It keeps no record of Ivan’s wrongs. My love for Ivan does not delight in evil things happening to Ivan or in his participation in evil. My love for Ivan protects him, always trusts him, always hopes for the best in him, never gives up on him. My love for Ivan NEVER FAILS.” Wow, what a love! The Bible says in Ephesians 3:16-20 that this love is too wide, high and deep to grasp or comprehend on my own.
The Bible says that I need the help of the Holy Ghost, His power, to be able to grasp, to know, this love (God’s love) that surpasses all knowledge. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is the power that works in us, along with our faith, to be able to do exceedingly abundantly above, immeasurably more than we could imagine.
More specifically, it is the Holy Spirit that is the power that is working in us, with us, to be able to know a love that surpasses knowledge. Holy Spirit helps us to be able to become rooted and established in love.
It is in this place of grasping the greatness of God’s love that we begin to love ourselves and then from that fullness, extend love to our wives and our children. You can’t give what you don’t have. Many of can’t say that we grew up with a love that was patient, kind, that wasn’t rude or easily angered, that always protected and hoped for the best in us. Because of that, we were ill-equipped to extend that kind of love to our children.
As Christians, we don’t have that excuse anymore. We have been born again and we have a new Father that models love to us perfectly. We must pray for grace as we attempt through the power of the Holy Ghost to extend that love to our kids. When our kids are young and what I refer to as “in training”, they test our patience. It seems we are saying the same things over and over again.
As our children get older they start forming their own opinions and defining their own paths and lives in a way that might be different from what we would like. As they do it may be hard to always trust, hope for the best, or even keep from giving up. Their actions and decisions may even begin to remind us of our mistakes and failures. In these times it may be tough to maintain loving feelings towards them.
The only way that we can extend the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love to our children, at any age or stage of their lives, is through the power of the Holy Ghost. We have to receive the grace of God to do it. A perfect God can extend perfect love, perfectly at all times.
As imperfect men, the ONLY way that we can give this kind of love is through the empowerment of the Holy Ghost, the grace of God upon us. Have you been struggling in extending the 1 Corinthians 13 type of love to your kids? Go back and fill up on the grace of God, the power of the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) says “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.
We can always come to God to get the grace we need to be good, loving dads. It’s always available whenever we need it and as dads we ALWAYS need it!
For Reflection: Have you ever meditated on 1 Corinthians 13 and imagined God loving you like that? What things are keeping you from believing that God could love you like that? Your failure to address those things will keep you from receiving His love and extending it to your children. Imagine your children are all adults. When they reflect on the love that you gave them, would they describe it as patient, kind, not rude, not easily angered, that it was the best you could give? Would they describe your love as a love that always hoped for the best, was forgiving, that tried to protect, encourage? Would they say that they felt you never gave up on them?
In whatever areas you feel like you are falling short, go to Hebrews 4:16 and receive the mercy of God in forgiveness and the grace of God to improve—even if the kids are already grown up. ITS NEVER TOO LATE TO START BEING A BETTER MORE LOVING DAD!
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