All We Need Is Love?

Note: On the fourth Tuesdays, I’m starting a new blog series on the Fruit of the Spirit, taking us through the nine character traits and applying that to raising kids.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

The world is in love with love, and not just around Valentine’s Day either. The idea that if we just had enough love, everything would be okay isn’t a new one. People have been thinking that for centuries.

We also tend to think of love as strictly a feeling. That means, if we don’t feel in love, we’re not in love. We enjoy the feeling of being in love, but that feeling isn’t the most reliable. It can lead us astray, can cause untold trouble, and can break up marriages and families.

Jesus taught us the true meaning of love in his reply to the question of which was the greatest commandment: “Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 (ESV)

That kind of love is more than a feeling—it’s an active, living and breathing love. How can we teach our children the true meaning of love like that? Here are a few thoughts.

Show them love. Kids need to see an active love, so while telling them we love them is important, so is showing them we love them. That means fixing their favorite meals, listening with our full attention, going to see them play or perform, allowing them to invite friends over, spending one-on-one time with them on a regular basis, and giving them hugs frequently.

Correct them when they do wrong. An active love also isn’t afraid to correct the loved one. Some parents have a hard time with discipline because they think if they punish a child for misbehavior, the child will interpret that as the parents not loving them. But proper, effective discipline can’t exist without love.

Love your spouse. We can’t get so immersed in the daily tasks of raising kids to forget to love our spouse in an active, vibrant way. Our kids should see us get mushy with our husbands or wives. Our kids should know without a doubt how much mom and dad love each other. Seeing that married love played out in technicolor in their living room and around the dinner table will go a long way to showing kids what real love looks like.

Talk about what loves means. True love isn’t easy. It isn’t here today and gone tomorrow. It’s persevering through the tough times. It’s overcoming heartache and misery. It’s forgiving and letting go. It’s mercy and grace. Helping kids to understand the many facets of love will help them learn to identify the real thing from the many imitations they will encounter.

All we do need is love—true, active love.

Fun Ways to Grow the Fruit of the Spirit in Children

By Karen Whiting

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control— we want to see this fruit in our children. We can nurture the growth of the Fruit of the Spirit through hands-on activities that also help us bridge to talking about the fruit.

Obstacle courses
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Challenges of going under, over and around objects can be fun. Chat about choosing how to get past each obstacle, and that it takes longer than just running straight from start to finish without roadblocks. Connect that to problems in life and the challenge of figuring out solutions. Patience and self-control increase as a child overcomes obstacles and gains confidence.

Spiritual Treasure Boxes
When my oldest child was preschool age, we decorated a box to hold treasures that reminded her of God and Bible stories. Inside she placed feathers as reminders of God caring for the birds and her, a lock of hair because he numbers every hair on her head, toy animals for Noah’s ark, cotton balls for sheep because she is God’s little lamb an he is her shepherd, and little pebbles for David winning over the bully Goliath. She loved to add items and show them to friends. She told others about Jesus with this box. She added items that reminded her of prayers God answered. It also increased her faithfulness.

Measuring Pole
Children love being measured as they grow. Next to the pole, it’s great to add a note of how they grew in character, did a good deed, or a fruit they exhibited. It helps them focus on more than physical growth, like goodness.

Strong but Fragile Eggs
Eggs-actly fun. Wrap your hand around an egg and squeeze. It doesn’t break. Tap it on the side of a bowl and break it open. Let a child stand on a carton of eggs and discover the eggs don’t break. It’s a lesson in how we are strong, yet fragile. God gave us strong hearts, yet they can be hurt and feel broken. It’s a lesson in gentleness and having compassion and growing in kindness.

Check out how to walk on eggs: http://www.kidspot.com.au/things-to-do/activities/walking-on-eggs-science-experiment

Board Games
A simple game like Candy Land can be fun or end in tears and fights. Focus on fun by rejoicing when someone moves ahead and laughing when you move backwards. Continue playing until everyone reaches the finish. Clap and hug each one completing the race. It helps everyone learn patience of waiting for a turn, persistence in finishing, and peace in getting along while playing. End with a praise parade to share joy of being together and how love is more important than winning.RYMDPrincess_FinalCover_022316

About Karen Whiting
Karen Whiting (www.karenwhiting.com) is an international speaker, author of twenty-two books, and a former television host. These activities come from her new book Raising a Young Modern Day Princess: Growing the Fruit of the Spirit in Your Little Girl (Focus on the Family/Tyndale Publishers).