The challenge from my last post was to help our kids to properly love. The question that creates is how. How do we properly love? We know we are supposed to love God first and love Him most, but how can we be sure that we are doing that?
John Locke clarified the philosophical principle of primary and secondary things that Plato first proposed. Locke says primary things are physical, secondary things are more metaphysical. For us, as Christians, the distinction between primary things and secondary things is an important one. Not in the same sense that Locke proposed, but in the sense Christ proposed when he was asked the question what is the most important commandment. In trying to trick Jesus, the religious leaders do us a great service. They allowed us to see how to order our love and how to properly interact with secondary things.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The most important command isn’t to love people. It’s to love God primarily. How our love for God is seen is in how we love secondary things, people. Jesus was saying our love for Christ is primary and our love for everything else is secondary. He was also telling us how to measure our love for God. We can say we love God, and there is no way for us to know for sure if we truly love God or if others truly love God. That is what makes secondary things so significant. It is in how we love secondary things in their proper way and to the appropriate degree. When we love secondary things too much we demonstrate that we don’t love God first. Loving things such as family, friends, money and influence too much reveals the idol factory of our heart. Loving things too little produces anger, envy and pride. When we don’t love secondary things the way that God does it reveals that we don’t know God or trust him in his love for us.
The problem in teaching kids to love is we stop short and only teach them to be loving. The problem is being loving deals with secondary things. To teach kids to truly love means teaching them to order their love by loving Christ primarily; then because you know Christ who is love you will from that love appropriately love secondary things. Being a loving person is a very different thing than being known by Him who is true love. The confidence and assurance that comes from the loves in our life being rightly ordered frees us to appropriately love secondary things. It is in how we love secondary things that shows that we primarily love Christ.
Questions to ask ourselves about ourselves and our kids:
- What is one thing in your life that you feel defines who you are?
- What, if removed from your life, would cause you the most pain?
- Where do spend your time and money?
- Do you struggle with an excess of love which is greed, lust or gluttony?
- Do you struggle with a deficiency of love which is anger, envy or pride?
- Where do you turn or to what do you turn to when life gets difficult?
- Do you preach the gospel to yourself every day?
This article originally appeared here.