Hunched over the mountain of books on his desk, my student father was frantically getting his studying done while scrutinizing me out of the corner of his eye. Left to babysit, he was juggling the completion of his assignments with keeping a busy toddler content and out of trouble. Things seemed to be going well. That is…until the apartment air was suddenly assaulted. It was obvious I needed immediate tending to, but my father, like most men from his era, didn’t do diapers. Keeping focused on his task, he pulled his shirt up over his nose and continued studying!
Days later when my mom sat down to read me a story I proceeded to pull my shirt up over my nose as we opened the book. I thought that that was how you were supposed to read! After all, Dad read his books that way! This comical scene brings home the point that our lives are always teaching something. Like little mirrors, our children run around our houses, schools, churches, and neighborhoods imitating our behaviors. Just what are we teaching our children and other people we lead in our lives?
Bernard of Clairvaux said, “What we love, we shall grow to resemble.” The greatest thing I can do as a mom and Christian leader is to “love the Lord with all of my heart, soul, and mind.” The more I learn to love Jesus, the more I am going to become like Him in all I do – the more I am going to resemble Him to the captive eyes around me. Paul commands us in Ephesians 5:1 to “be imitators of God.” Notice it’s a command just as loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind is in Deuteronomy 6:5. If the commandment to love is indeed written on our hearts – if we truly love the Lord – our lives will be reflecting that to our children and others by how we live and by who we are. This is the only way we can make a significant difference in the lives of our children for God. With the help of the Spirit, we can begin imitating Christ’s qualities of obedience, and his love for the Father, subsequently becoming like Him.
Do you really love Jesus? Remember…”What we love, we shall grow to resemble.”
Like a domino effect, the others in our lives, especially our children, are going to imitate those things. By imitating us they will be imitating him. As a little girl in love with her daddy, I wanted to be like him – and to be like him that day, was to read like he did. To be like Jesus, we too, have to have that child-like love for Him, regularly sitting at His feet taking everything He says and does in, desiring to be nothing but be like Him. “What we love, we shall grow to resemble.”
Often our hearts are bursting with so many expectations and hopes for our children and those we lead. We want them to be spiritual giants, with hearts after God and with a hunger for His Word. Could it be said of us, that we have hearts after God, that we have set our affections on Him? If we want to teach our children to love God, we have to love God. We can’t expect them to do what we’re not doing. They need to see us enjoying God’s Word, they need to see us on our knees talking to God – they need to see us sitting often and long at Jesus’ feet. Can those around us tell by our behavior, our words, our gestures, our attitudes and values that Christ is the focus and love of our lives?
I find it interesting that before the Lord Jesus commissioned Peter to be a shepherd he asked him a very important question, “Simon, son of Judah, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15-17) Three times Jesus asked Peter the question, “Do you really love me?” I believe Jesus is asking the same question of each one of us. God requires us to live our lives in love with Jesus. This question has to be central to the whole of our lives and ministries, and especially our parenting. Feeding His sheep properly and well means loving Jesus first. After having asked Peter that question three times, then Jesus told him to “feed my lambs.” Jesus first wanted to be assured of Peter’s love. He knew once the affection of His heart was in order, when it came time to ministering to the lambs, Peter would be reflecting His master’s image and not his own – and that would be what would shape and mold the lambs for eternity.
Do you really love Jesus? “What we love, we shall grow to resemble.”