Beloved Child, Beloved Parent
God loves every single child always and forever. This love is not dependent on a youngster's intellect, activities, or behavior. It leads the parent to guide the child rightly and tenderly, and the child to respond properly and confidently.
One of the greatest words in the Bible is "beloved." It means more than loved; it means to be greatly loved, supremely loved, unconditionally loved. And one researcher suggests that if you take the word apart, it is an imperative, a necessity that each of us "be loved" as we truly are.
Yet, those working in the child development field say that the greatest need of children today is to feel loved and beloved. Many youngsters think they are a burden, an expense, a cause of stress, or just a plain bother. While this may not actually be the case, parental apathy makes it seem so. We think we've done our job: "He knows I love him," "I told her at bedtime I loved her." But let's take it a step further. Maybe there are children who seem to lack love. How great to know - and teach children - that no matter what, God loves every single child in every difficult circumstance, in every country, even in prisons that are man-made or mental. This love from God is an always and forever thing, not dependent on a youngster's intellect, activities, or behavior.
Have you taught your child that even in the middle of a messy muddle of a mistake, there shines God's love on both parent and child? This love leads the parent to guide the child rightly and tenderly, and it leads the child to respond properly and confidently. Yes, confident in God's unalterable love.
Once when one of our sons was a pre-teen, he came to us solemnly and said "You know how you always say that you love me no matter what? Well....." and then he told of some inappropriate behavior. We were pleased that he felt loved even when he had done something wrong, and God's love for us helped us choose the best method of correction.
He and his siblings have always remembered that "no matter what" statement and it has kept the lines of communication open during the growing up years and even now when they are teaching it to their own youngsters.
The Fall is a good time to underscore God's love. Kids are busy in school with its triumphs and temptations. What better time to consider what the Bible has to say about love for children! At dinner, you can read one of these quotations, post it on the bulletin board, and see who can memorize it during the week. You can also tuck a copy in a lunch box, or place it on a bed pillow. (These quotes are from a variety of translations: Moffat, KJV - King James Version, FF - Ferrar Fenton, New Testament - GNT, LB - Living Bible, and JBP - J.B. Phillips.)
- "See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God's children." I John 3:1 - GNT
- "Be, then, imitators of God, as dear children; and walk in love....." Ephesians 5:1 - FF
- "Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older he will remain upon it." Proverbs 22:4 - LB
- "Jesus said, 'Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to each of them." Matthew 19: 14 - GNT
- "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.....Beloved, now are we the sons of God...." I John 3: 1,2 - KJV
- "God's gifts come to his loved ones, as they sleep." Psalm 127: 2 - Moffat
- " Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand.....He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: and gather the lambs with his arm....." Isaiah 40: 10, 11 - KJV
- ".....he [Jesus] took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them." Mark 10: 16 - KJV
- "Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called the 'children of God' - and that is not just what we are called, but what we are." I John 3:1 - JBP
Note that the passage from I John 3 is included three times, for it is a great statement of the Father-Mother's love for all children. Do you and your family feel the warmth and comfort of that incredible love?