The Parenting Fruit of the Spirit: Love

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By Courtney Chambers
I remember the first time I held each of my kids. Each was a moment of overwhelming joy as I had waited in nine months of anticipation for that specific moment. Holding my children and seeing them for the first time brought an instant emotion of love for them. You hear it often from parents, but as soon as I saw my children, I loved them and wanted to protect them.
Love. This fruit of the Spirit is maybe the most natural fruit that emerged when I became a parent. And while we do genuinely love them, we must dig deeper into this fruit, specifically the difference between love found in companionship and love rooted in Christ.
God is love; that is who he is. The very core of himself is rooted and filled up with love and this love poured out on his people. He doesn’t just display love for those he loves; he is love. It is his character. Love is an attribute that is perfectly and purely displayed consistently in God. We get to read about his love in Scripture, and we get to experience his love personally.
We read in Scripture that God loved us while we were dead in sin. He called us as his own and poured mercy on us because of love (Ephesians 2:4-5). As Christians, we have the best demonstration of love anyone could ask for through the gospel. God loved us; he sent his son to die for us and atone for our sins; despite who we were, he still called us as his own. This kind of love is pure and full of mercy and grace. It’s an overwhelming love because nothing we do can change our God from loving us.
God demonstrates love in many different ways throughout Scripture. One way is to look upon the life of the Israelites and their relationship with their covenant God. We see Israel in the Old Testament constantly being unfaithful to God. They choose idols and foreign gods over him, they choose comfort over faithfulness, and they often forget the God whom they serve. Yet, in all those moments, God is faithful.
Because of his love for his people, he is compassionate and merciful when they deserve destruction. He kept his people close simply out of his love for them. This doesn’t mean that God never judged the Israelites for their wrongdoings. He loved them through judgment. In the weakest moments, he still comforted them through the covenants he had made. Even in the garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned, he provided them with correction, judgment, and a promise of hope for restoration (Genesis 3:15). This is pure love.
Because we know and experience God’s love, there is love that naturally flows out from us. God’s love ripples out of us and touches those around us. For us as parents, this means our children. We love our children but love them even more fiercely because of God’s love for us. We can demonstrate the proper discipline, grace, mercy, and compassion throughout parenting because of God’s love for us.
Instead of being a bowl and soaking up God’s love for ourselves, we are called to be tubes. We let God’s love flow out onto those around us. We love others because God loves us first (1 John 4:19). This doesn’t mean our children won’t sin or do things that will anger us. It doesn’t mean that they won’t make choices we disagree with. No matter the situation, whether we greet our kid’s choices with cheering and praise or discipline and correction, the fruit of love should always be present. We discipline, correct, and praise because of his love for us. Love is a fruit that blossoms when our roots are firmly planted in the gospel.
Practically, we can look in the passage of 1 Corinthians 13 for what this kind of love looks like. Love flowing out from an understanding of the gospel is patient and kind. We love our children and display patience towards them no matter the situation. We are not rude or self-seeking. We parent with a heart of humility and strive not to snap at our children no matter how bad of a day we had. We are not irritable and keep no record of wrong. We love our children no matter what arises. We discipline in love and point them to the Gospel daily. This kind of love is full of hope and can endure anything parenting brings.
Love is a fruit we can easily see in parenting simply because of our love for the children God has given us. But a love planted and rooted in the gospel will have roots that will withstand any storm that arises. We love our children because God loved us first and ultimately loved our children first.
Courtney Chambers is a pastor’s wife and mom of three living in northeast Missouri. Courtney has a Bachelor’s in World Missions and a Master’s in Biblical Counseling.  Courtney is passionate about biblical theology and reaching the next generation. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, and baking. You can find her @courtneyrchambers and @thereformedlife
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