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Seasoned with Love
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Are you a parent who works hard to raise your children to be good Christians but wonder why they don’t like each other? Perhaps you’ve prided yourself on teaching your kids to clean their rooms, brush their teeth, and talk politely in public but at home there is a cloud of irritably between them. Is bickering more common than the sunshine of joy when they play together? Dedicated parents might receive compliments on their “nice” children in public, but behind closed doors they know something is missing—genuine love.

Jesus taught the importance of this crucial element in the Christian’s life. He said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 NKJV). While it is important to teach your children to wash the dishes, say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’, and not kick their sister, these good qualities can be void of love. You can train your kids to be good on the outside, but they can still miss the essence of true Christianity.

The purpose of good child training is not to make little obedient soldiers who march around in order to accomplish tasks. The reason for raising children is to be like Jesus and the heart of Christ is to love others. There is no place that proves whether this quality exists in your children like the home. Here is where the Golden Rule can truly be tested: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NIV).

Two Suggestions

Here are two suggestions that can help you move toward writing God’s a love into the hearts of your children. First, if you have not completely given your heart to Christ, then make this your first work. You cannot effectively help your kids unless you have Jesus in your own heart. John 3:3 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (NKJV). If you cannot “see” God’s kingdom, you cannot point your children in the right direction. Come honestly before God with a broken heart over your own sinfulness, cry out to the Lord and receive the gift of salvation. Start every day on your knees.

Second, teach your children that the essence of life is to serve others. Sweeping the kitchen makes Mommy happy. Playing with little brother brings joy to him. Mowing the lawn helps Daddy. You may verbally explain why we serve one another (see John 13:34, 1 John 3:23, Galatians 5:13), but determine to be clear in your own mind that raising children to help others is the purpose of being a Christian.

Parenting is tough work and takes determination. But let God’s grace sustain you and season your words with love. Persistence driven by anger or irritability will never help. Let your teaching be consistent and full of love.

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ® and the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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