‘Your love for one another is growing.’ 2 Thessalonians 1:3 NLT
When Paul says, ‘Your love for one another is growing,’ it’s not the kind where life’s perfect and everybody accommodates you. God’s intention is to ‘grow’ you into the kind of love that’s not defined by your feelings, but a sacrificial love that says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.’ (Galatians 2:20 NIV) It’s possible to be in love with the idea of a perfect marriage, without actually loving your mate. Or the dream of what your children could become, if only they’d follow your advice. But when it comes to loving a rebellious teen who acts like ‘the other side of the family,’ it’s a growing process that puts your love to the test.
Jesus said, ‘As I have loved you… you must love one another’ (John 13:34 NIV), and He never asks us to do anything without giving us the ability to do it. So are you ready to do a little growing?
Kristin Armstrong says: ‘When we’re hurt it’s common to withdraw. But the worst thing a parent can do is to withhold affection in response to a child’s behaviour. A child’s heart grows when it’s nurtured with unconditional love. Affection doesn’t depend on behaviour, mood or circumstances. Being pleasing does not equate to being lovable. Imagine if Jesus loved us only when we behaved perfectly. We’d never experience His affection, and consequently we’d wither away. And since Jesus is our example, we need to love others with Christlike grace. He loves us according to His capacity, not according to the degree of our merit. We must love others… not by our standards but by His.’