The Greatest of These is Love
by Virginia Knowles
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a,13
If there is one thing that every home school family needs more and more, it is LOVE. A loving mother responds with gentle words and an offer of help when a child is frustrated about a difficult lesson. She doesn't embarrass her children by comparing them against the godly genius in the support group, nor does she breed insecurity by setting them up on that wobbly old pedestal. In her home, she isn't so smitten with her position of authority that she fails to listen to her children talk about what is bugging them or what they want to do different. Instead, she has the humility to realize that sometimes she is the one who needs to change. She doesn't insist that her way is the only way. She tries to teach her children not to interrupt, but when they do, she doesn't lose her temper or act rude in return. When she feels overwhelmed, she tries to stay calm instead of snapping at people, and she refuses to nurse a grudge. When there is some sort of transgression -- and there usually is -- she deals with it quickly, because she doesn't want it to linger all day. She doesn't laugh with the child who makes a really witty but hurtful remark about a brother or a sister, yet she does smile on the one who makes an attempt -- successful or not -- at something noble and true. She wants her children to build healthy relationships with one another, so she works hard at training them, by instruction and example, to speak sweetly and serve sacrificially. She checks up on the ones playing outside with friends, to make sure they are safe -- not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually. When her child has been irresponsible or disloyal, she quickly gives him a chance to prove himself in some small thing and thus begin to regain her trust. She has a hope within her that God will work in her children's hearts to transform them in ways she cannot fathom. When she is tempted to give up, persevering love keeps her committed. When she feels that her family life is ready to wither and die, a fresh dose of divine love is what will make her bloom and flourish at home with her children.
Some would say these words are only platitudes. I certainly don't consider myself to have attained them -- not by a long shot! -- but this is what is on my heart for my family this year: to let the love of God break through our hearts and fill us with compassion for one another. Though I am far from seeing the reality of God's high standard of love, I will keep persevering, with faith and hope, until I do!
The poem "Love Through Me" from Amy Carmichael's book Toward Jerusalem, reflects my thoughts right now. (Amy was an Irish missionary to India, and founded the Dohnavur Fellowship to rescue girls from temple slavery. Though she never married nor bore children from her own womb, she was a spiritual mother to thousands!)
LOVE THROUGH ME
Love through me, Love of God
Make me like Thy clear air
Through which unhindered, colours pass
As though it were not there.
Powers of the love of God,
Depths of the heart Divine,
O Love that faileth not, break forth,
And flood this world of Thine.