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Breakfast Devotions with our Kids: Love is is kind...

During the month of February, we meditate and memorize the definition of love from 1 Cor. 13 (You know which ones I'm talking about--the wedding verses. Even Jim and Pam had them recited at their wedding). Our family needs refreshed in this, so it's nice to have this tradition to bring us back to it each year.

We read and repeat the entire passage, but then focus on one element daily.

"LOVE IS KIND" --today's focus. I asked the kids, "What does 'kind' mean?" Middle sister asked if she could give an example rather than a definition. With permission, she joyfully retrieved two stuffed animals and used them to demonstrate kindness by sharing. Brother and sister followed her lead and also acted out kind gestures between fluffy friends.

"Very good," I affirmed them, "You obviously know what it is to be kind." This is where, in years past, I would have ended the lesson. We would adjourn by praying round the table, thanking God for things, and asking for His help us to live out the verse of the day, "And please help us to be kind." Most of the time we would give Jesus credit for this kindness: "And we know that we can't be kind without You, thank you Jesus for living in our hearts."

But this year I'm doing it differently.

As a campus minister, I see many people who have grown up in church and were taught to be kind. They are well-mannered, sweet, smiling. But kindness is more than manners. Kindness isn't letting someone have the right of way in traffic and then murmuring how rude of a driver they are. True kindness comes from an attitude of "I willingly give more than I get. Let me serve you, not because it will help build my resume, but because I see you as a person of worth, and when I give my ____(time, help, money, etc.) I am doing it because I love you the way God loves you." Kindness comes from a heart of generosity. And if you've spent any time with children, you know that generosity is not their natural inclination. Every parent of a tot knows that one of the first words they learn is "Mine!"

So this year, in order to instill heart, not just behavior, I am spinning this love conversation another way:

I continued, "So tell me, how is God kind to us?"
"Hmmmmm.....He loves us."
"Yes, He does love us. This verse says that love is kind, so saying that kindness is love is correct, but let's look up the definition... 'Kind = gentle, considerate, generous.' How is God gentle?"
Kids: ...
"Well, when we approach God, or if we've done something wrong, how does He react? Does He yell and shake His fist at you?"
The girls shake their heads while baby brother nods until seeing that we are all shaking our heads, and he changes his stance on the matter. Big sister says, "God forgives you."
"Right, and how is God considerate? Considerate means that you put others before yourself. That others are more important."
Little sister says, "He died on the cross for us."
"Yeah, He died for us--that's the ultimate way of showing that He considered us--He laid down His life so we could live! And what about generous? How is God generous? Generous means you care more about giving than getting."
They paused, puzzled, probably thinking "We just said 'death on a cross'."
I said, "Well, what did Jesus give up to come to earth? Everything in His Kingdom of Heaven. And we learned during Christmas how He came to earth--did He come as a King with lots of riches?"
All shaking heads now, a chorus of quiet reverent replies, "As a a a manger."

With this perspective of kindness, we bowed our heads to pray, each taking a turn to thank God for ways He shows us His love through kindness.

There are moments when my kids show this generous, selfless kindness--to each other and to others, and it is truly heart-warming! Like the psalm "How beautiful, how wonderful when brothers and sisters get along!" But their hearts, like mine, need continued renewal in approaching these qualities of love, not as a check-list, but as a thankfulness list. If kindness is born from generosity, generosity surely is born from gratitude. I cannot control whether or not they adopt this heart and carry it into adulthood, but I can daily point them to our Savior, and can daily humble my own heart so that they see in me an attitude of thankfulness which hopefully produces a generous love.

We use this free printable of 1 Cor. 13. Thanks to "The Girl Creative!" 

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