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Love is a funny thing. We live in a culture that throws that word around so easily. It intrigues me that I can use the same word to describe how I feel about my morning coffee, my comfy chair, my feelings about the weather, my affection for my kids, and my relationship with my husband. Even more intriguing is that we use that word to describe how we feel about God, and the way He feels about us.
I use the word “love” to describe how I feel about my husband. I know what that feels like. I can describe what it looks like. I know how it affects the way we treat each other. I also use the word “love” to describe how I feel about God. My entire life is based on what He has asked of me. It affects my every move, my every thought, every word. In all honesty though, I don’t think I can begin to fully process that kind of love. Yes, it affects my behavior and I know what I feel when I talk about it. But I can’t fully process the depth of that love. It consumes me.
Let’s take it a step further. God’s love for us. I cannot even begin to come anywhere close to understanding the depth and power of that love. Somehow it transforms my entire life. It redeems all situations. It makes all things beautiful in time. It is a sacrificial, overflowing, never-ending, all-consuming Agape love.
How do we even attempt to define that kind of love in a way that our children can understand? A few years ago, I sat down and wrote out some quick devotionals and object lessons for the Fruit of the Spirit. In preparation for this year’s summer study, I thought I’d pull out that devotional and share it with all of you!
So with all that said… here’s the first lesson in our Fruit of the Spirit study! The first fruit is love. Honestly, this was a little tricky. The story we read daily, Pups of the Spirit, is super cute, but it keeps love at a surface level. Hugs and kisses and whatnot. I wanted Little Man to know that love in the Biblical sense is deeper than that. With every fruit, I found a short phrase that describes it in ways our little ones would understand.
LOVE ~ I will put others first.
Our verse for love was 1 John 3:18.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.
I asked some pretty basic questions. How do you know Mommy loves you? How do you show Mommy or Daddy how you love them? How can you show your friends you love them? I asked him about some specific situations we had recently dealt with… were you showing love then? I read somewhere that whenever a certain mom saw her children arguing, she would stop them and ask, “Who are you showing love to right now? Yourself, your brother, or God? God first, then others, and then ourselves. This is the primary point I wanted Little Man to leave with.
We’ve talked about how we love others because Jesus loves us and His love overflows from us into others. When we are filled with His love, it’s much easier to put others before ourselves. That led us to our object lesson.
For this lesson, you’ll need a paper towel, a red marker, a pen, and a bowl of water. Draw a small heart down at the bottom with the pen. “We all have hearts that need to be filled. When we ask Jesus to live in our hearts, he fills them with love.”
We colored in the heart with the red marker. “Jesus lives in our hearts and He loves us very, very much. We always know that we are loved because we are His children.”
Draw some tiny little hearts around the top of the red heart. “We have Jesus’ love in our hearts, but not everyone knows about His love. Their hearts are still empty.”
I asked Little Man how we could show love to those people. He gave me answers like playing with them, being kind to them, telling them that Jesus lives in us. “When Jesus loves us, that love can overflow into the people around us! Because He loves us soooo much, we have lots of love to share!” Dip the paper towel into the bowl where just the red heart touches the water.
“Look how Jesus’ love filled all those other hearts! He loves everyone and wants their hearts to be filled too!”
Throughout the next several days, I focused on asking Little Man about showing love. In the grocery store, a man knocked some stuff off the shelf… “How can we show him some love right now?” As Little Man had a *teensy* bit of an attitude with me… “Are you showing love right now or anger?” Some friends were over and playing at our house and wanted to do something different than Little Man… “Can we show him love by choosing to play his game first?” I’m sure you can think of a few (or more than a few) moments that these questions could be asked on a daily basis.
To conclude each of our devotionals, we prayed over our verse (using the “ACTS” model and the words from the verse).
“Jesus, it’s awesome that You have so much love for us! I’m sorry that I didn’t show love when I ______. Please forgive me. Thank you for always loving us no matter what we do. Please help me not to just tell my family I love them, but to show them with my actions. Help me to know how to love people that aren’t my friends. Help me to show them Your love. Amen.”
Is this something you could do with your little ones?
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