Summer is a great time to focus in on helping our children build godly character since we have more free time. Why not use that free time to focus on something that will benefit you year round? You’ll see your children making effort to be a blessing to each other as you focus on godly character in a fun and engaging way.

I’m super excited to share some lessons on building godly character that were written by my dear friend, Kris Hage. I’ll be sharing one of her character building articles each week through the summer with fun activities to incorporate into your week.

Kris wrote these articles over the last several years for the Paper MACHE, a magazine offered by the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators.

This article on love is reprinted with permission of Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators. It originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of The Paper MACHE (now called Homeschool Now Minnesota). Visit MACHE.org.

Character Corner—LOVE By Kris Hage

Every parent can testify to the truth of this Scripture:  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do (Galatians 5:17). It is the daily experience of every growing Christian—the battle of the old self against the new self, since we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Then when you put a family together, the struggles multiply.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). We’re going tostudy the practical character qualities that come from walking in the Spirit, as opposed to giving in to our flesh. The Bible calls these qualities the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT—nine different character traits we should focus on and teach our children.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

LOVE

“And above all these, put on love…” (Colossians 3:14). This first characteristic that comes from walking in the Spirit is taught, commanded, and displayed for us throughout God’s Word. Scripture focuses on two vital aspects of love:  our love for God and our love for other people. God commands us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love those around us as much as we love and care for ourselves! As we abide in Christ—this is our position and walk by the Spirit—this is our practice, then will we bear this fruit of the Spirit. Jesus said, “…apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Remember, just as fruit on trees is produced by God slowly, quietly, and not in a spectacular show, so he works his grace in our lives. He produces this fruit not just as an attachment on the outside, but a transformation on the inside by his Holy Spirit. We cannot cause love to grow in our hearts or our children’s hearts, but we are the channels through which God works. God commands us to teach our children about his love and show them how to love one another (see Deuteronomy 4:10, 6:4-7).

Exploring God’s Word

God’s love brought about our salvation through the giving of his Son, who took our place on the cross of Calvary. This is absolutely the most important aspect of love we must share with our children. Notice that God’s love is always expressed in action.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.

Our love should imitate his love. In John 13:34-35, Jesus told his disciples to love one another in the same way he loves them. He had just finished washing their feet, which we looked at in detail in our study on a servant’s heart (see The Paper MACHE spring issue 2017 at www.mache.org). In Colossians 3:12-14, Apostle Paul gives us a practical picture of putting on love just like we put on our clothes. Then John also focuses on what loving each other should look like in his first letter—read 1 John 4:7-11.

A most insightful study, giving us practical aspects of love to work on, is to take the fruit of the Spirit and compare each characteristic with the beautiful description of love Paul gives us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. As a family, make a list of the fruit of the Spirit, then fill in the aspects of love that demonstrate each fruit on the other side of the chart. (Any young artists at your house could make it an inspiring display!)

Galatians 5 Fruit1 Corinthians 13 Love Chapter
LOVE: Self-sacrificing love in actionLove does not envy (vs. 4)
 Love does not insist on it’s own way (vs 5)
JOYLove rejoices with truth (vs.6)
 Love hopes all things (vs.7)
PEACELove does not envy (vs.4)
 Love is not irritable or resentful (vs.5)
PATIENCELove is patient (vs.4)
 Love bears all things (vs.7)
 Love hopes all things (vs.7)
KINDNESSLove is kind (vs.4)
 Love is not rude (vs.5)
GOODNESSLove does not keep record of wrongs (vs.6)
 Love is not irritable or resentful (vs.5)
FAITHFULNESSLove believes all things (vs.7)
 Love endures all things (vs.7)
 Love never fails (vs.8)
GENTLENESS (meekness)Love does not boast (vs.4)
 Love is not arrogant (proud) (vs.4)
SELF-CONTROLLove does not boast (vs.4)
 Love is not rude (vs.5)

Putting It Into Practice

Put on Love

Use a solid color T-shirt your child has (or purchase a new one) and let him design his own LOVE shirt using fabric markers or fabric paints. Help him select his favorite Bible verse on love that you have studied. On days when a loving attitude is lacking, it may help to put it on, accompanied by prayer for the Holy Spirit’s help.

From the Hand to the Heart

Proverbs22-6academy.com has a free copybook on the love verses in 1 John 4:7-21. You have the choice of manuscript, transitional manuscript, or cursive and each page has room for illustrations or artwork to make a lasting keepsake.

Examples in the Nest

Choose your favorite local bird this spring and investigate how the parents show self-sacrificing care to incubate their eggs and then raise their young. They do this out of instinct, of course, but it’s a great example to us humans, who know it needs to be done out of love for our young ones.

By Love Serve One Another

Have a family brainstorming meeting of some service projects you can do to show love to others together as a family. Here are some ideas to get you started:  visit lonely elderly people you know or at a local nursing home; serve at a local food shelf or Feed My Starving Children; reach out to a needy family from your church or homeschool group; make a cheery gift basket to encourage a friend and drop it off ding-dong-ditch style. Ask the Lord to bring the needs he wants you to meet and you will be amazed at what he does.

Kris and I have written a very fun and engaging study for families on the Fruit of the Spirit called Growing the Fruit of the Spirit that I’ll have ON SALE for the 4th of July week! Each fruit of the Spirit has five devotionals to read together, a memory verse and several options for activities each day.

Download a free lesson on LOVE from Growing the Fruit of the Spirit today!

Please share any ideas you have for building the character quality of love that you’ve incorporated in your family below! I love to hear what works for you and it benefits other readers as well.

If you have prayer requests send them via the comment link. I’d be happy to pray for your family as you incorporate these ideas this summer. I also do homeschool consulting and would be happy to meet with you to help you in your homeschool journey.