This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you. No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. (John 15:12-13 AMP)
Our kids’ generation is not immune from the error of past generations trying to pass love off as a feeling. Love is an action word. It is the act of sacrificing yourself for the benefit of others.
It seems that the first thing to go when a child loses his or her innocence is the ability to love. Not the ability to feel, but the impulse to give sacrificially without thinking about it. I believe that this is because kids in our American culture are so habituated in getting that it doesn’t even occur to them to give.
Remember, a child’s “reality” is limited by his or her perception, just as an adult’s is. But the less life experience you have, the narrower your perception. Children don’t instinctively know the difference between perception and reality, so it isn’t ever going to occur to them to test their worldview.
Where this becomes problematic is if they think that the world revolves around them, they will assume that to be true until they find out otherwise.
Another stumbling block for kids once they reach their adolescent years is their growing self-reliance. Growing up is inevitable, and becoming more independent is generally a good thing as one gets older. However, because kids don’t know what they don’t know, it is very easy for them to get in over their heads when trying to do something themselves.
Because they have not yet mastered their pride, if indeed they are even aware of it, it is also not in the nature of most adolescents to ask for help, even when they are completely overwhelmed. Sometimes, it seems that they gravitate more toward the drama of being in a mess than in actually finding a solution to their problem.
I think this is why it is frequently so difficult for older kids to show love. 1 John 4:19 reminds us that we love because God loved us first, but unless you know that, you can’t act on it. To live out a life of love effectively, you have to allow yourself to be controlled by the Spirit of love.
Now when was the last time you met a teenager who wanted to be controlled by anybody? They are just reaching the stage of life when they can finally do things for themselves, and now we’re telling them NOT to think of themselves, but others? No wonder they get confused, which of course, cranks up the drama even more, which throws them right back into the cycle of attention seeking about their confusion rather than helping them move forward with solutions.
Because God is love, if you are showing love, people see God through you. The sooner we teach our kids how to look outside themselves, the easier it will be for us to help them shape their worldview into a view that actually has some WORLD in it.