What Motivates Love For Your Children?

"Our Lord calls us to sacrifice in a way that truly seeks our children's best interest."
What does Scripture say about parenting?

Not much. There are a few verses, but really there’s not a whole lot that the Bible says specifically about parenting.

This can lead to some really disastrous consequences- secular ideas thrust upon Scripture, pragmatic approaches, etc. But just because Scripture doesn’t directly talk about parenting all the time, doesn’t mean that we can’t glean principles from Scripture that guide us as we parent our children.

For example, there are no specific instructions on how to drive a car in Scripture, but we have a pretty good idea that running people off the road and wildly and angrily gesticulating to anyone you don’t like is probably not the best way to drive. Because the principles of our interactions with other people are universally able to be applied, even if the specific situations aren’t outlined.

What are principles that can be applied to parenting, then?

Or, to put it another way: How does the gospel speak to our role as parents?

Here are 3 ways gospel-love speaks to our role as parents:
1. The gospel motivates undeserved love for our children

1 John 3:16- “by this we know love, that He laid down His life for us”.

The model of our love is Christ. He is our example and the one who empowers us to love as He has loved us. Christ's love for us is an undeserved love. We have not earned it, and it has been bestowed upon us wholly out of God's gracious goodness.

Likewise our children do not deserve our love.

In response to the undeserved love we have received, we are called to give undeserved love to our children. We must not hold back love upon the basis of our children’s behavior as tempting as that might be. We must not force our children to perform in order to receive our love.
Nothing could be more opposed to the gospel!

2. Not only is Christ's love undeserved but it's also sacrificial. He doesn't love us in emotional platitudes or cliches, but in the shedding of His blood on our behalf.

Likewise, our love must be costly. We will be inconvenienced and have our plans interrupted: we will not be able to have a date night every night, or have “me time”, or get to go to the restaurants we want to. These are sacrifices of love.

Sometimes I’m under the impression that Owen, Zoe, and Caleb conspire against me- when I’m most in need of a break is when it seems like global nuclear war breaks out, and they knock each other down. I’ve caught myself saying “whyyyyy!?!” But all of these are opportunities to show the sacrificial love of Christ.

3. Christ's love for us is undeserved, sacrificial and selfless.

One of the hardest parts about sacrificing for our children is that oftentimes the sacrifice is forced. It is not uncommon for me to sacrifice as a parent. In fact it is required.

Waking up in the middle of the night to help our kids get back to sleep is indeed a sacrifice, but it is a forced sacrifice. In that moment I’m sacrificing my sleep, but really I still care more about my sleep than I care about what’s best for my child. Just because we’re sacrificing, doesn’t mean we are actually sacrificing selflessly.

The most intense bitterness I’ve felt in parenting is when I’m sacrificing selfishly. We ought to consider that Christ left the glory of heaven to come to the earth for love, to be betrayed, beaten, and murdered for love- and He did so willingly.

As parents the model of Christ is to sacrificially love our children willingly. Begrudging sacrifice is not the kind of love Christ calls us to. Our Lord calls us to sacrifice in a way that truly seeks our children's best interest.

We should always remember that Christ has sacrificed more for us and our children than we will ever sacrifice for them- but through our selfless sacrifice we have an opportunity to point our children to Christ.

In the next post we will see 5 other ways the gospel speaks to our role as parents. May we reflect the love of Christ in our relationships with our children!