1 Corinthians 13:6 (NASB)
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
At first read, this one seemed easy. Of course I don’t rejoice in unrighteousness! Quite the opposite in fact. But when I got to the second half of the sentence I realized it was a little trickier. I mean, I like the truth and everything else that is the opposite of unrighteousness, but do I really, actually rejoice along with it?
My commentary 1 says it so well: “The person full of Christian love joins in rejoicing on the side of behavior that reflects the gospel…” In other words, 1 Corinthians 13 love rejoices when God’s character is lived out. As moms we can sometimes be so focused on correcting the wrong that we fail to praise the good. We fail to recognize when our child does reflect the character of God. I know that I am guilty of this. Some believe that for every criticism or correction you should give your child seven words of praise. Sadly, there are days when I would be hard pressed to even have a one to one ratio.
The other day I asked one of my kids to do something while I was with one of my friends. After I had completed my command, my friend looked at my son and added a simple “Thank-you.” I was struck by her words. In my mind, what I asked of them wasn’t something out of the ordinary; it was something that they should do anyway. So why would I say thanks? But it got me to thinking. It is so easy to offer a simple statement of gratitude. Saying “thank-you” implies “I am pleased with what you just did. I am thankful for your help. What you did matters.” “Thank You.” These two simple words plant seeds of acceptance and of worth. If I would just say “Thank You” on a regular basis I would increase my praise:criticism count to maybe a 3 or a 4.
You See What You’re Looking For
The next step is a little harder to do. You have to train your eyes to see it and make your mouth verbalize it. When your child does something good, you need to acknowledge it with your words. When they put away their dinner plate without being told, offer a little bit of praise. I know they should do it anyway, but in acknowledging it you are depositing a praise mark. You are showing them that they can get your attention when they do something good, not just when they do something wrong.
Children need to know that they are loved, accepted and important. Then need to hear from your mouth that you are proud of them and your love is unconditional. It is nearly impossible to tell them too many times. Joel Manby often asks, “How many of you feel like you’ve had too much encouragement in your life?” I don’t think that there is such a thing!
This week’s assignments:
1) Start retraining your eyes to look for good things that your kids do, just as much as you watch for things they need to improve.
2) Try to keep track of your ratio of encouragement to criticism.
3) Think about your child’s love language. Would they prefer a little note, words of encouragement, or a pat on the back and a little hug? Try to focus on ‘filling up their tank’ by encouraging them in a way that they enjoy.
1 NICNT, Gordon Fee, pg 639