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When one of us is having a hard time demonstrating love, my husband or I will jokingly say, “bend it out!” This catchy phase has been a part of our vocabulary since we were engaged.
In preparing for marriage, we read the book This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. Each week, we would discuss a chapter with our pastor and his wife. One of the phrases used several times in chapter three is “bend it out.” In the book, Piper says,
Before a man and woman can live out the unique roles of headship and submission in a biblical and gracious way, they must experience what it means to build their lives on the vertical experience of God’s forgiveness and justification and promised help, and then bend it out horizontally to their spouse.
In looking toward Valentine’s day, I was meditating on one of the popular love passages in scripture, 1 Corinthians 13. As I considered these very practical ways to demonstrate love, I couldn’t help but think “bend it out.” Not only should this bending out or reflecting of God’s love be applied to our spouse, this idea is true in every area of our life, even motherhood.
Here are my thoughts on how to reflect God’s love to your children.
To Reflect God’s Love to Your Children, You Must Know God
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8
We were made for God’s glory, to know Him, delight in Him, and worship Him. If you want to know what love is, seek the one and only true God who is love.
Action step: Read what He has revealed about Himself through the Bible. Delight in His attributes.
To Reflect God’s Love to Your Children, You Must Know What God Did for You
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us… – 1 John 3:16a
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1 John 4:9-10
The Bible says that “the love of God was made manifest among us” (1 John 4:9). This means that love was clearly demonstrated and displayed through the acts of Christ. If we are to reflect love to our children and others in our lives, we must know and believe in the ultimate example of love.
Action step: Study the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Memorize His words. Meditate on His acts of selflessness.
You Are Commanded to Reflect God’s Love to Your Children
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. – 1 John 3:11, 16
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love on another, just as he has commanded us. – 1 John 3:23
After experiencing God’s saving grace and being made into new creations, we are commanded to reflect God’s love to others. As a believer, you are an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). This command is not for when times are good or your children are acting lovable. Your thoughts, words, and behaviors are to be characterized by this type of love.
Action step: After memorizing and meditating on verses that describe Christ’s selflessness, pray that God would reveal to you when you are not acting as His ambassador. Also pray, that He would give you opportunities during your day to act in faithful obedience, loving your family even when it seems like they do not deserve love. Think of actionable ways to seek out good for your children.
You cannot Reflect God’s Love to Your Children On Your Own
…I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. – 1 John 2:14
I wish that I always showed love to my son, my husband, and everyone else who comes into contact with me. I find myself frequently making excuses for my bitterness, anger, and other forms of selfishness. During these moments, I need to confess my sin and turn to Christ. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit, daily attempting to live and walk by His power (Galatians 5:25) that I am even able to think about fighting the selfishness in my life.
Action step: Praise God for His great grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit to work in you! Trust in Him, as He is the only One with the power to convict and change your heart.
What Do You Think?
How can you “bend out” or reflect God’s love to your children? In what ways is actively demonstrating love hard for you? How do you rely on the Holy Spirit to show love when life is hard?