Tag Archive | love your children

First Things First

First things first. What a common saying! If you were raised in the generation in which I was raised, you probably heard that saying somewhat frequently. I will let your own memory serve to bring examples to mind. Yes, certain things were to be first. Then, something else would follow.

The actual definition of the word first is:

Being before all others, with respect to time, order, rank, or importance

First is a priority word.

In the Christian life, there are some things that should be first.

When Jesus was asked by one of the lawyers what was the greatest commandment, He replied:

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. Matthew 22:37-39

Our love for God should always be first. And then our love for our neighbors.

Likewise, in Revelation 2:4, when Jesus rebuked the church at Ephesus, after commending them for all their good works, He declared:

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

Yes, our love for Him is the most important. It is first. Be sure, a thousand other things, often “good” things, will try to usurp that place, but we must not allow it. First things first. He must be first. He is our Lord and Savior! He is worthy! He is preeminent! He must be first!

But, what I would also like to draw our attention to is a brief phrase in 1 Timothy 5:4:

… let them first learn to show godliness in their own household … (ESV)

This phrase is set in the context of care for widows. Children, grandchildren, and family were to learn to first care for those widows in their family. Those widows were a priority … they were to be cared for first … before others outside of that family. It was a truth which needed to be learned. Those widows had cared for their families, and the families were now to care for them.

Embedded within that truth is the priority of family. Let them first learn to show godliness in their own household. In our homes, with those who live in our homes, with our own family members … it is there where we are to first learn to show godliness. Those family members are priority. We are to love them and care for them as the Lord cares for us. It is there where we are to show godliness. Does it ever seem as though those are the most difficult people? But it is there where we learn. They are a priority because God Himself created the family. He created the man and the woman to be joined as one flesh, and from that union to bear children. Yes, the family was God’s design! It is a priority.

It is so easy to let all of the things outside of our homes draw us away. Just as they can draw us away from the Lord, they can draw us away from serving our families. We get our priorities misplaced. We can be so busy “doing good things” outside of our homes that we fail to show godliness within our homes. I have been there … far more often than I wish. What then is the solution? When Jesus rebuked the church at Ephesus, He also gave the solution:

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works,

Recall that those at Ephesus were commended for many good things. However, they had left their priority … loving Jesus. Their instruction was to remember, to turn back to Him, and do the first works of loving Him once again.

It is the same for us with our families. If we have forgotten that it is there where we are to first show godliness, loving them and caring for them as a priority, we should remember, turn back, and get first things first.

Does this mean we do not serve outside of our homes? Absolutely not! Though some may tire of that Proverbs 31 woman, I never do. She always encourages me. She is a woman who lovingly fears the Lord … She is a woman who does her husband good and not evil all the days of her life … She is a woman who lovingly and diligently cares for her children … She is a woman who looks well into the ways of her household … Yet, she is a woman who reaches out her hand to the poor and needy … And she is a woman who speaks with wisdom and kindness.

May I submit to you that she is a woman who keeps first things first!

Lord, help us all, by your grace, turn back where we need to and put first things first!

Mom, Will You Play Legos With Me?

Will You Play Legos?I sat on the park bench, watching my eight-year old son playing with a friend. As I enjoyed the beauty of the day and the simple joy of the children laughing and playing, a Scripture came to my mind:  Love your children …  Oh no, there it is again, I thought!  That Scripture had been on my mind constantly, returning time and again.  Love your children … I had heard it over and over in my mind.  I knew the Lord was trying to speak to me, but I just didn’t understand.

What, Lord?  What are you trying to say?  Here we were at the park.  I had gotten his friend to play with him, picked up a pizza to bring along, and brought the boys to the park for the afternoon. Yet, I was hearing love your children again.  I was actually feeling a little frustrated and confused. I really didn’t know what The Lord was trying to get me to understand. What else did I need to do?

As the boys played, I ran many thoughts through my mind.  I truly did hundreds of things for my son.  I left a career to be a stay-at-home mom.  I cared for his physical needs impeccably.  He was very well-dressed at all times.  He was well-fed, with his nutrition as a priority of mine.  I homeschooled him, spending hours pouring into his heart the Word of God, as well as being certain that academically he functioned at the top of his age group.  But still the prompting persisted: Love your children.  I really didn’t know what more I could do.  I had given my life to raising him, and I reminded myself  once again of the multitude of things that I did for him.

Well, the play date was over. We took his friend home, and we happily returned to our home.  Happily for him, but I was still troubled within.  I knew there was something that I needed to learn.  I grabbed my Bible and withdrew to my room.  I bowed my heart before The Lord and asked Him to show me what He was trying to say.  I knew there was something that I just didn’t understand.

I opened my Bible to Titus 2 to the passage where older women are instructed to teach the younger women, and there it was … Love your children … Love your children … Love your children.  I knew that I had to understand that phrase.  I pulled out a Bible dictionary and searched for the definition.  What I found opened my eyes, spoke to my heart, and answered my question.  The word used here for love was not agape, the self-sacrificing love to which the Bible so frequently refers. This word for love was phileo, the kind of love that focuses on relationship. It actually describes a friendship love.  It was then that I saw the truth that I had missed. It was then that I understood.  I had spent years doing things “for” my son.  I had actually given my life to that.  But what The Lord was calling me to was to do things “with” my son.  I could see that I needed to focus, not only on the tasks at hand, but on the relationship.

I began to run so many things through my mind.  Yes,  I did that “for” him.   And I did that “for” him.  And I did that “for” him.  But there were not too many “with” things.  Even the afternoon outing to the park had been “for” him.  Then came the flood of questions that I heard replayed in my mind.  Mom, will you play Legos “with” me?  No, Mom has to fix dinner…  Mom, will you ride bikes “with” me?  No, Mom needs to do the laundry…   Mom, will you play a game “with” me?  No, Mom is busy right now.  The tears began to flow.  Now I saw.  Now I understood.  I had been so focused on all of the things that I did “for” my son that I was missing the most important thing of all – the relationship “with” him!

God did something major in my heart that day.  He gave me a new priority.  The truth love your children became very special to me.  Now, when my son would say: Mom, will you play Legos with me, I could hear the “with me” loud and clear.  And I would do my best to say: We sure can!  Even if I could not do it right at that moment, I was sure to let him know that we sure can!  Days turned into weeks.  Weeks turned into years.  Although I still made mistakes, I am thankful that The Lord persisted to teach me that truth.  Love your children – a truth I desperately needed to learn.

My son is grown now, with a family of his own.  Do I have any regrets in raising him?  Do I regret giving up a career to be a stay-at-home mom?  Not for a moment!  Do I regret giving all of those years to homeschooling him?  Not for a moment!  Do I regret painstakingly caring for his needs? Not for a moment!  Do I have any regrets at all? Only one comes to mind – that I would have taken every opportunity to do things “with” him.

The childhood years pass way too quickly.  Love your children. It is a decision that you will never regret!  Mom, will you play Legos with me?  We sure can!  We sure can!