Jesus loved people. He loved thieves, prostitutes, tax collectors, diseased people, poor people, children and His followers. He loved people who were devoted to Him and those who were different from Him. He even loved difficult and dangerous people.
And His love is the same today as it was 2,000 years ago.
Because we are loved by Him, we are called to love like Him. The extent to which we love one another validates and communicates our faith (John 13:34-35).
The New Testament contains 54 "one another" passages that teach us how to love. Parents can show their children how to love like Jesus by living out the following "one another" passages.
Forgive one another (Colossians 3:13). The ultimate example of forgiveness was displayed when Jesus hung on the Cross and cried out for those who were crucifying Him: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). We should forgive others even when they don't deserve it or ask for it. That demonstrates a love that keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Accept one another (Romans 15:7). To truly love someone, you must avoid trying to change the person for your own purposes. Accepting love is patient and kind, even when someone does not meet your expectations (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Honor one another (Romans 12:10). Honor means to esteem someone as highly valuable. It leads us to treat others as though they are personally autographed by God. When we value others above ourselves, we are emulating the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:3-5).
But what if the person you are trying to love does not receive it? Loving others isn't always easy, but a Christlike love means forgiving, accepting and honoring even those who are different and difficult. Our ability to love others comes from God (1 John 4:7). We can only give love when our hearts are full of God's love. That is the formula. Any other attempt at loving one another simply does not work.
Do your kids know what true, biblical love looks like? The activities and discussions below are designed to help your kids understand and embrace God's command to "love one another."
— Ted Cunningham
- God calls us to love others, just as He loves us.
- We show love to others by forgiving, accepting and honoring them.
- We can only love others when we are full of God's love.
Family Memory Verse
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
For a more in-depth look at love, read these Bible passages:
1 Corinthians 13:1-7
1 John 3:11-19
1 John 4:7-19
Draw one large heart and several smaller hearts on red construction paper. Help your child cut them out. Next, paste a picture of Jesus on the large heart. On the smaller hearts, paste photos of family and friends.
When completed, place the large heart facedown on a table. Help your child place all the small hearts facedown in a circle around the large heart.
Have your child turn over the large heart first. Explain that Jesus loves him so much that He puts people in his life — people who love him and whom he can love. When we love Jesus, it helps us to love others. All love comes from Jesus.
Before your child turns over each smaller heart, say, "Jesus loves you so much, He gave you ___ (as your child turns over the heart, shout the name of the person on the photo) to love."
Continue until all the small hearts are turned over. Explain to your child that as much as all these people love him and he loves each person, Jesus loves all of us even more than that!
This activity can be repeated, especially when your child has had a bad day, to show Jesus loves him no matter what.
Help your child create a "Love Others Like Jesus Loves" bag. Using a plain paper bag and the Scripture Study verses listed on this page, have your child decorate the bag with words or pictures that show how Jesus wants us to love others. (For example, you might include the words forgiveness and patience or use pictures that depict kindness.) While working together on the bag, explain to your child that although it's sometimes hard to forgive someone who has hurt our feelings, Jesus wants us to love others like He loves us.
Place the bag in an easily accessible location. When someone does something that makes your child feel like not loving him or her, have your child write that person's name on a piece of paper. As he puts the name in the bag, prompt him to say, "I don't feel like loving [name] today because ______________. Help me love [name] like You do, Jesus."
At the end of the week, have your child discard the papers in the bag without reading the names. Together, ask Jesus to forgive everyone whose names were written on the collected papers. Explain to your child that Jesus forgives us and wants us to forgive others. He chooses to not remember our sins. We can choose to not remember how others have hurt us. Love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Use this devotion to spark a discussion about love:
Have your tweens grab their lunch boxes (or paper bags). Ask them to think about how they'd describe love to someone who's unfamiliar with the concept. Then tell your kids to go through the house and put three things in their lunch boxes that represent what they'd say.
When they return, have your tweens take turns revealing their items and telling why they could be used to describe love. Then read aloud John 13:34-35. Ask:
- If Jesus were to put something in your lunch box to describe love, what do you think it would be? Why?
Read Colossians 3:13, Romans 15:7 and 12:10. Ask your kids:
- These Scriptures encourage us to love by forgiving, accepting and honoring others. Do the items in your lunch box reflect these verses?
- Instead of a physical object, what might you do this week that could demonstrate forgiveness, acceptance and honor?
- When is it hard for you to follow Jesus' model of love? What can we do about that?
Wrap up with prayer, asking God to help you experience and share His love this week.
Time With Your Teen
Today's teens show a keen interest in community involvement and worthy causes. Young adult leaders are challenging their generation to put their faith into action by showing compassion for the oppressed. Even the issue of bullying is rising to the top in conversations in schools and youth groups. What an opportunity we have as parents to use these topics to dialogue with our teens about faith expressed through loving actions.
In Matthew 22:39, Jesus exhorts His followers, "Love your neighbor as yourself." By helping our teens to love right where they live, we can direct their excitement about worthy causes and encourage their loving actions to flow from a genuine faith. The book of James reminds believers that faith is accompanied by actions (2:14-18).
Ask your teens what issues they feel passionate about. Allow them to dream big but also encourage them to begin with the areas or people that God has placed in their lives right now.
Do they feel compassion for the bullied? How does that translate into loving and valuing their family members? How might they pray for and reach out to the lonely neighbor no one seems to like? Who else is on their radar? How can they put love into action this week?
Even the smallest opportunities will deepen our teens' faith as they learn to trust God to help them love as Christ loved.