I remember as a young child sitting at the kitchen table with my mother signing my name on valentine cards and putting the names of my classmates on the envelopes. These were the small cards that had sweet sayings on them, and they always included a special card for the teacher. Valentine’s Day was one of my favorite times of the year. Later, I remember baking cookies and cakes to give to the special people I loved, as well as receiving cards from my family that were creatively written and drawn. One of my treasured memories dates back to when my children, and then later my grandchildren, and I made cards shaped like hearts with doilies and stickers–such fun. I loved helping them write the notes, and then, as they got older, reading their sweet words. As I consider all these treasured times, I am also reminded of the love my parents had for the Lord, for each other, and for my sister and me. Mine was a family that was committed to walking with the Lord. My father daily demonstrated lovingkindness as a physician, and my mother, too, exuded loving godliness. I have wonderful memories of all we shared, including my sister and me laughing ourselves to sleep at night and playing for hours together outside. The joy of love in the home is a true blessing.
An added blessing for me in my growing up was also to have seen examples of love outside my home. From as far back as I can remember, taking part in my church in Port Arthur and sitting under wonderful teachers there showed me another kind of love. The very first Bible verse I remember learning was “God is love” in Sunday School. A host of precious teachers faithfully taught me each week, along with Training Union teachers on Sunday nights, youth leaders, choir leaders, G.A. teachers, Girls Auxiliary, and many faithful pastors who lived out before me their love and devotion for the Lord and for other people.
All these wonderful portraits of love, however, pale in comparison with the love God has for His children. Priscilla Shirer explains in Discovering the Voice of God, “The foundation of our faith is on sweet fellowship with God, who clearly, biblically, wants our relationship with Him to be both intimate and interactive.” God’s love is the perfect love and He is the One from whom all love originated. Consider the words of John, often called the “apostle of love,” in I John 4:7-10.
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. And God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven (GNT).
From the Old Testament through the New Testament, God has shown His love and told us of the importance of teaching the love of the Lord to our children and grandchildren. Read through Deuteronomy 6:4-7 below and note Moses’ critical words for biblical parenting.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (NIV).
Jesus underscores the importance of this command in His response to a query by a Sadducee who was testing Him, asking, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40 NKJV).
In 100 Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart, Roberts Morgan states that Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 6, affirmed by Jesus, give us the three golden rules for rearing children:
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. The single most powerful influence in a child’s life is his or her parents’ visible, passionate love for the Lord Jesus Christ (Deut. 6:4-5).
- His Word must be on your heart. We must love God’s Word and read it daily. Our children should see us poring over God’s Word every morning or evening (Deut. 6:6).
- We must share with our children spontaneously and naturally any verses God gives us. When the natural conversations of the home are sprinkled with God’s Word, it’s like constantly planting seeds in the fertile hearts of our youngsters (Deut. 6:7-9).
As we navigate this life, it is a most wonderful, comforting thing to know God’s love—to know that “He is love” and that He desires to guide us as our loving Father. To share this love with our children and grandchildren is a privilege and a commandment with many blessings and promises. I pray that as we celebrate Valentine’s Day with all its fun traditions, we will remember the most important and life-changing love of all: the love of our compassionate Heavenly Father who sent His son Jesus Christ to pay the price for our sins, who died and rose victoriously, conquering sin and death. “The gospel is this,” Tim Keller famously writes: “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” This, friends, is love.
Holy Father, help me to follow the three golden rules for rearing children. Show me the opportunities for sharing your Word with my children and grandchildren. Help me to be an encouragement to them and forgive me when I am not sensitive to your leading, letting opportunities pass me by. Thank you, dearest Lord, for loving me with your everlasting love. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).