What is the Bible passage that is read at almost every wedding?
1 Corinthians 13, of course.
However when God directed the Apostle Paul to write this, He wasn’t only talking about the love of a husband and wife. In fact the words husband, wife, spouse, marriage and wedding are not even in that passage.
So if wasn’t just for spouses, who else was it written for?
The answer is that it was written for all of us, to be used in all of our relationships with others. It is the guideline for how we are to love everyone unconditionally.
So, we can and should use this as a guide on how to love our children.
Let’s break down the first part of 1 Corinthians 13, from the perspective of how us parents should love our children.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT
God says that love is greater than spiritual gifts; like speaking in tongues, prophesying, knowledge, and even faith enough to move mountains. In fact He says that we are nothing if we don’t love others. Even if we give everything to the poor and sacrifice our bodies, we gain nothing if we don’t love others.
If you are like me, this is somewhat shocking, and convicting at the same time. We Christians put a huge value on some or all of the things mentioned above, but God is telling us to put a higher value on loving others. In fact, God wants us to make it our highest priority. So loving our children well, should be our highest ambition.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NLT
As parents, we are to be patient and kind to our children. We should not be jealous when they succeed, where we have failed. We should not be boastful or proud. We should not be rude to our children, in private or public.
We should not demand our own way. An example of this is a parent who loves soccer, forcing their child to play soccer, when the child wants to sing in a musical.
Parents should not be irritable, or easily angered, or annoyed with our children. As parents, this is very hard, I know. It is easy for us to get angry and frustrated when our kids are not doing what they should, or what we want them to. It takes hard work and continual effort to get to a place where we are not easily angered with our children, and most of all, it takes a lot of prayer and relying on the Holy Spirit to change us.
We should not keep any records of past wrongs. I’ve heard of parents keeping lists of things their child has done wrong, and when they get to 5 they get disciplined. Instead, we should be keeping records of when our children do good things.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 NLT
We should rejoice and celebrate when our children make good and wise decisions. And when our child makes a mistake and gets into trouble with the authorities (teachers, police, their boss, etc), we should make them apologize, seek forgiveness, and go through the consequences. In this way, they will understand justice, the consequences for their own actions, the value of reconciliation, and the joy of true repentance and the freedom it brings.
Parents should never give up, never lose faith, always be hopeful, and endure through everything. This is especially true when parents have a wayward/prodigal child. God our Heavenly Father will never give up on us, and so we should never give up on our children. God loves us unconditionally, no matter what we say or do, so we should show the same love to our children. We shouldn’t overlook or condone the sin, but continue to show them love and acceptance. We should continue to pray and lift them up to God; the only one who is in full control, and the only one who can do anything.
In essence, we should love our children the way God loves us, and the way we would want to be loved.
1 Corinthians 13, was written for all of us, as a guide on how to love unconditionally. It can, and should, be modeled by parents to properly love their children.
Next week, we will dig into the second half of 1 Corinthians 13.