The month of love is coming up! Greeting cards, boxes of assorted chocolates (half of which will be discarded because they are just gross), and roses that quickly wither will be in full demand. Sounds like such fun, doesn’t it? While I am not the biggest fan of man-made holidays or pre-conditioned times to show affection, I am a mom who wants her children to see their parents celebrating and living life to the fullest, so that they will do the same. Whether you are a single parent or married, do not forget that true love ultimately has nothing to do with your ring finger and everything to do with your Savior. It is important to soak in this truth, because no matter what your home may look like, it is your home, and God dwells within you. Whether you find yourself carrying the load of being the sole spiritual role model for your kids, or you have a mate who is equally spurring your family on, you can teach your children what love looks like and Who love is.
“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” 1 John 4:16
When we teach our children about love, a good place to begin is sharing the many different types of love and how they permeate our thoughts of who we are and who God is. In the Greek language, there are four words used to describe love. When we distinguish one from another, we stand a good chance of our children growing in their understanding of what love really looks like in its fullness. Here are the meanings of three of those types of love and some practical ways to show them in your home.
Eros Love: The word “love” is most frequently associated with eros today, and it brings a physical attraction that may or may not last. While this type of love has a sensual context, that is not to say this type of love is a bad thing—quite the contrary. God created Adam and Eve and intended for them to be one flesh. It is important to remember that eros love, however, has no guarantees, and when taken to the extreme, this type of self-centered love can run amuk and lead to things that are not at all what God intended (1 Corinthians 6:18). So what can we do to redeem this love in our lives and families? Well, we can show our children the beauty in this by the way we treat our spouse (or ourselves if we are single). Children need to see parents holding hands, embracing one another, and taking the time to go on dates. Dads should take their children to buy flowers for moms, and moms should graciously accept and offer affectionate hugs to the man she married—in front of the children. Single moms and dads can talk about the gift of purity and what a treasure singleness is. They can also point out good examples of physical affection so as to put eros love in its proper place.
Philia Love: Where eros is focused on the physical, philia is focused on feelings, and it is commonly referred to as “brotherly” love. We display this type of love in our friendships, and it is often seen beautifully reflected when our children play together and enjoy one another’s company. With philia, we find genuine affection for another person with no other motivating factors behind it. Philia love can be magnified for our children by taking the time to connect with friends. Go walking in the park with friends. Talk, laugh, and have a game night with others. Have your children pick out a present for friends who live far away and send it to them in the mail. These are simple ways to connect the dots for our kids. Show them the love of family and friends in tangible ways that practically build up the lives of those around us.
Agape Love: For Christians, our faith stems from this type of love. In fact, God commands us to show agape love for everyone—whether we want to or not. When the New Testament speaks of love, it is specifically referring to agape love. Agape love is best displayed on the cross—even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We are to love others for no other reason than God created them, and we are to consider others as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). This being the case, agape love is not something we can stir up on our own—it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can truly lay down our lives, our desires, and our feelings, and love others the way God tells us to. If done well, agape love could surprise us and result in brotherly love.
However you are inclined to display these different types of love, no opportunity is too small. Sometimes we overthink our methods. Instead, be engaged and point your kids to the all-consuming, never-ending, most wonderful love of all. True love extends far beyond wedding vows and to having a parent who is not merely fond of Jesus, but is madly in love with Him! Plant seeds in your children so they better love themselves, others, and, most importantly, the God who created them all.
In His Love,
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their first daughter in March 2016. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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