Life overall is messy, and church life is no exception. In addition, COVID-19 has made both even more messy. What causes the mess? People.
One of my favorite quotes from the beloved comic strip Peanuts® is attributed to Linus, who exclaims one day, “I love mankind . . . It’s people I can’t stand!” I think we all feel that way sometimes. We love kids and families, but sometimes we lose our patience or get irritated with them. (Kids and families, by the way, love us but become frustrated with us, too.)
So, what are we to do about this situation? The apostle Paul’s writings offer insight for us today when kids and families don’t always act in ways that make it easy to show them Christ-like love. Here are some biblical principles that can help us be more loving:
- Love is expected of us as believers. Paul says, “Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)
- Love is expressed through our behavior. What is referred to as the love chapter has these words for us: “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
- Love is observed by unbelievers, who are watching us. I think that is part of what Paul is saying here: “About brotherly love: You don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. In fact, you are doing this toward all the brothers and sisters in the entire region of Macedonia. But we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do this even more, to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12)
- Love sets an example for others in the church. Paul writes to his protégé Timothy, “. . . set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
- Love is a source of church unity. Again, Scripture reminds Christians “ to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3) Paul also states, “Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (Colossians 3:14)
So, why all this talk about loving preschoolers, children, and their families? For one, the Bible has a lot more to say about love, which is indicative of its importance. In fact Paul says in his closing statement to the church in Corinth, “Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14) So, while the world is thinking about love this month, let’s double-down on our desire to show the love of Jesus to everyone. Playing favorites is not an option.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of Lifeway Kids Ongoing Bible Studies and Network Partnerships, Nashville, TN, and is a graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The author of It’s Worth It: Uncovering How One Week Can Transform Your Church and a general editor of the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids, Landry is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. He teaches kids at his church in Middle Tennessee, where his wife Janetta is the Preschool Minister. They enjoy spending time with their two adult sons and their wives, and spoiling their five grandchildren.