Let’s get real for a moment. The concept of true agape love is extremely difficult to comprehend and even more difficult to live out. It’s easy to love someone who loves you back. It’s even easy to SAY you love someone even in the midst of being hurt by them… but it’s another thing all together to SHOW that love to them.
I absolutely love my family. I love my wife and I love my kids. There are plenty of times that we get frustrated with each other but that never lessens my love for them. However it does lessen my display of that love. Intellectually I know that I love them as much, and I feel it in my heart, but my pride or ego holds me back from displaying that love when I feel I’ve been hurt or wronged.
This is especially difficult with children. When they do a wrong that must have a consequence, it can be very difficult to display love in that moment. When they do an endless series of wrongs that are extremely wrong, it gets harder and harder to display love. When that child’s acts of defiance include stealing from family members and the school, lying about everything and about nothing, destruction of property and such endless acts of distrust that he can’t be out of our sight even for a moment… it becomes increasingly difficult to display the love that I still have in my heart.
I mean these actions must have consequences. “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24) Privileges must be lost, time must be spent reflecting and writing and writing and writing. Through the process, it’s easy to tell myself (I love my son). It’s even easy to say to him, I love you. But to show that love can be challenging.
But then I reflect on my model, my example, my Lord and Savior… Jesus Christ. My wrongs against Him are deserving of death. Yet He loved me enough to die on the cross for me, to take the punishment for me, to give me the Helper in the Holy Spirit. And this is what floors me about agape love. Yes, I can type the words that agape love is a truly unconditional love, that it’s total love and endless love. But understanding the definition of a word is not the same thing as understanding its application. I even experience that love from Him to me all the time… but to turn around and display that love to a son that is as defiant as he as become… that is truly difficult.
I know in my heart how I am to act and lead, but these are the moments when following Christ’s example of agape love is very difficult. If you have never had a child that has become so untrustworthy that he can’t be left alone for even one minute, you may not understand the battle in my heart. But if you have ever tried to parent a child as defiant as this one, then you get this battle.
I’m not sharing this to say I have the solution or the answer, because I don’t. I’m sharing this to let those of you with a similar level of defiance at home know that you are not alone. I don’t mean you’re not alone because there are others like me facing these same challenges… I mean you are not alone because Christ is there for you.
If you have confessed with your mouth and believe in your heart that Christ is both Lord and Savior of your life (Romans 10:9), then you are His and have received the Holy Spirit.
You can repeat Paul’s words, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)
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