Love is the glue that allows families to flourish and be close to one another. The key, though, is making sure that we apply the glue. In Part 1, we learned how we should go about doing that, but we left off with the question, “How do we continue to choose to love?”
Now, as I thought about this question I came to a realization that I want to share with you that should revolutionize the way you live if you haven’t learned it before. Before I share it, though, a truth we need to keep in mind is this:
Our ability to continue to choose to love begins with our thought life.
In Romans 12, verse 2, we are taught the following:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2
In other words, we are transformed, meaning we become more of who we are meant to be by renewing our minds. A key part of our transformation is growing in our ability to love.
Jesus said that people will know we are his disciples by the way we love.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35
So, how we think directly affects our ability to love. Along this line, here is the realization that I came to. Where we set our affections in our minds directly and powerfully impacts our ability to love.
Now, when it comes to setting our affections, there are two main ways that we do this in our minds when it comes to our families. The first entails who they are. When it comes to choosing to love our spouses and children, we are to be reviewing in our minds what we appreciate about each member of our family.
Too often, rather than reviewing what we appreciate about them, we rehearse the hurts and the ways that they have disappointed us. When we do this, our motivation to love – our willingness to love – is dramatically weakened.
On the other hand, when we review in our minds how fearfully and wonderfully God has made each person in our family – when we review those qualities that makes them special – and we remember how much God loves them – we are almost compelled to love them.
As we set our affections on them in this way, we are propelled towards love. Yet, setting our affections cannot stop there. It must also entail a second form. Along with reviewing what we appreciate about our family members, we also need to focus on the good we hope to see happen in their lives.
We need to be positively reflecting upon what we want to see come true for the members of our family.
Here, what I am talking about when it comes to our kids, for example, is not just for them being successful in their careers, finding a good spouse, having children of their own, if that’s God’s will, and living a happy life – as good as all of those things are.
What I am talking about is our dreaming about their becoming all that God intends for them. I am talking about dreaming what I will call “kingdom dreams” for them. We need to be regularly dreaming about God’s goals for our spouses, children and ourselves.
The reason for this is because what God wants for us is always what’s best for us. God has promised that when we seek His kingdom priorities first, all of the other aspects of life will be taken care of. Listen to Jesus words:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life. And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:25-33
So our dreams for our family need to be kingdom dreams. We need to dream about them, and ourselves becoming and experiencing all God intends. As we think about these dreams, it will motivate us towards love and that’s because by doing so, we are developing the same heart of love that God has towards them and towards us.
Yet, as encouraging as this is, there are some tough questions that we need to ask ourselves when it comes to setting our affections in this way and we will address these in Part 3.