WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 15, 2021
TOPIC: LOVE YOUR CHILDREN UNCONDITIONALLY
BY T. O. BANSO
“So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Genesis 25:27-28 New King James Version).
It is important for parents to love their children from the womb and after their birth. But it’s more important that the children feel loved as they grow up. Children who feel loved are more likely to do better in life and live happier lives.
Some parents love their children because of certain things they love in or about them. Therefore, they could be said to love their children conditionally. Such parents don’t show love to their children that they don’t appreciate. Because those children don’t possess what they admire or cherish, they don’t show them love or enough love that would make the children feel loved.
In some dysfunctional families, the parents may divide the children between themselves with regard to which of the children each parent loves. So some children would feel that their fathers or mothers love them or don’t love them. Such an environment is not good for a healthy family.
The Bible says children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward (Psalm 127:3). Children are gifts from the Lord and should be received with thanksgiving and shown unconditional love. When they feel loved, they would feel secure and have healthy self-esteem. Without seeing evidence that they’re loved, children would feel rejected. This would result in bad relationships with their parents. And it has a negative impact on well-being and success in life.
Show your children parental love, which includes acceptance, affection, care, comfort, concern, and support. Where there is no parental love, these components are missing and could affect the children’s spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and social health. Parental involvement in children’s academics, as a demonstration of love, has been identified as a factor for success in their academics.
Parents must love their children unconditionally. In other words, they should love them absolutely without conditions, knowing that loving them this way is necessary to fulfil the biblical injunction to train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).
Unconditional love for children goes beyond loving them because they have done commendable things or possess sterling qualities. Parents must show them love with or without these. Love could motivate the children to be obedient, behave well, and not want to disappoint their parents.
Unconditional love is not the same as spoiling a child. It doesn’t mean a child is not disciplined if he has done anything wrong. But the discipline is administered in love. “Discipline your children while there is hope. If you don’t, you will ruin their lives” (Proverbs 19:18 New Living Translation). Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (New King James Version).
Over-pampering a child is not unconditional love. Showing unconditional love to a child does not mean parents should destroy their lives by failing to correct them just because they want them to be happy always. “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell” (Proverbs 23:13-14 New King James Version). The New Living Translation presents it thus: “Don’t fail to correct your children. They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.”
Parents can have unconditional love for their children and still beat them if there is a need for it. Unconditional love disciplines an erring child. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24 New King James Version). The New Living Translation puts it this way: “If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.”
The Bible recommends to parents physical punishment to discipline their children. “Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart” (Proverbs 20:30 New Living Translation). Also, Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (New King James Version). But the punishment must be done in love, not out of hatred or in a way that harms the child.
Love your children unconditionally. The love of Isaac and Rebekah for Esau and Jacob respectively could be described as conditional. It was based on self-interest. They each loved something about each child and loved him. It was not unconditional love. Each of them had his/her favourite child.
Genesis 25:27-28 says, “So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (New King James Version). The New Living Translation puts it this way, “As the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open fields, while Jacob was the kind of person who liked to stay at home. Isaac loved Esau in particular because of the wild game he brought home, but Rebekah favored Jacob.”
From this passage, it is clear that Isaac loved Esau in particular because of what he was benefiting from him – the wild game he was bringing home from his hunting. One could also say that Rebekah loved Jacob because he liked to stay at home. She enjoyed his company.
But parents should expect and appreciate the differences in the interests of their children. They should respect the different interests of their children provided they don’t violate the Word of God. In other words, once the interests are not sinful and harmful to the children, parents should guide and encourage them to pursue their interests instead of loving one child and not loving the other.
Like Esau and Jacob, Abel and Cain also had different interests. Whereas Abel was a shepherd, Cain was a farmer (Genesis 4:2). Parents should love their children unconditionally irrespective of the differences in their interests, intelligence, academic performance, talents and gifts, profession, and so on.
Look at the situation in the family of Isaac and Rebekah. Each loved one child and not the other. The Bible tells us how Rebekah’s love for Jacob later moved her to instigate him to deceive his father and receive the blessing that rightly belonged to his brother as the firstborn.
In addition to helping Jacob to prepare the savory food to give his father and pretend to be Esau, Rebekah gave Esau’s favourite clothes in the house to Jacob to wear and present himself as Esau. Because Jacob was a smooth-skinned man, Rebekah put the skins of the kids of the goats on Jacob’s hands and on the smooth part of his neck to make him appear hairy like Esau (Genesis 27:14-15).
These actions of Rebekah didn’t only show her love for Jacob; they also showed a lack of love for Esau, who was also her son. She didn’t have feelings for Esau whose blessing Jacob had stolen probably because of what God had told her before the birth of these brothers that the older would serve the younger (Genesis 25:23). But she didn’t have to be deceitful and manipulative. God didn’t need this kind of help to fulfil His promise.
The Bible does not record any attempt by Rebekah to settle the strife between Jacob and Esau because of the blessing he stole. It is also not recorded in the Bible if Isaac made attempts to resolve the problem between the two brothers. Isaac was already old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see (Genesis 27:1). The only thing he did at the instance of Rebekah was to send Jacob away to Padan Aram to marry a wife from one of the daughters of Jacob’s uncle, Laban.
Hear Rebekah: “Now therefore, my son, obey my voice: arise, flee to my brother Laban in Haran. And stay with him a few days, until your brother’s fury turns away, until your brother’s anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereaved also of you both in one day?” (Genesis 27:43-45 New King James Version). She was only interested in protecting the interest of her favourite son. She showed no concern for Esau. She was interested in peace but not peace and justice!
But about twenty years later, Jacob was still hunted by his past as he went back home and he was going to face his brother. If not that God had intervened, their meeting would not have been a happy reunion.
God’s love for man is unconditional – agape love. This love has been described as mainly a love of the will rather than the emotions. Don’t cause problems among your children. Children are not the same. Love your children unconditionally. Don’t discriminate against any of your children.
Don’t love your children who are excellent in academics, beautiful, handsome, rich, or promising and not love those who are not. Love changes people and you don’t know tomorrow. The children whose interests are different from yours today may become the greatest blessing to you tomorrow. The children who may not be giving you ‘savory food’ today may be showering you with gifts tomorrow.
Love your children because they are God’s gifts to you, not because of what you appreciate in them or benefit from them. You may not like some things in their lives, which you are trusting God to change, but love them unconditionally. Don’t only say you love them unconditionally, see that they feel loved by showing them affection, care, concern, and support and providing them comfort. As God’s steward, you should nurture them to become all God wants them to be.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me not to discriminate against any of my children. Help me to love them unconditionally, showing them affection, care, concern, and support and providing them comfort. Help me to faithfully pray for them and with them. I receive the grace to nurture my children to become all that God wants them to be.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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