Children best grasp the reality of God’s love when they experience it at home.
Quick, name your favorite romantic movie. Got it? Now, think of the best scene. Most likely it includes a reunion, a kiss or even a wedding.
Why do we love such stories? To edit the cliché: Because we are all hopeful romantics. Every one of us clings to the hope of lasting love because human intimacy serves as a picture of a love rooted in God himself.
Children best grasp the reality of God’s love when they experience its flesh-and-blood expression at home. We can teach them about His love as we embody the following qualities of our eternal Bridegroom and heavenly Father.
God is love: It is true that God does loving things. But the more important truth is that God is love (1 John 4:8). God can’t help loving because it is an essential part of His character.
God cares: We can cast our anxiety on God because He cares (1 Peter 5:7). Like a spouse’s hug when we’re stressed or a parent’s hug when we’re worried, God’s love comforts and reassures us because we know that He cares about each troubling detail of our lives.
God gives himself: Jesus said that the greatest love is when someone lays down his life for another (John 15:13). That is precisely what God did when He became man to rescue us from death.
God initiates: Our Father God takes the initiative in loving us rather than waiting for us to show love to Him. The Bible describes this love: “Not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10), and “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Whether your children are toddlers or teens, or somewhere in between, they need to understand God’s love for them. The age-appropriate activities and discussions below can help them grasp this important truth.
- Parents can help their kids understand God’s love by modeling it at home.
- God doesn’t just act loving; He is love.
- God’s love is caring, giving and makes the first move.
Family Memory Verse
1 John 4:9
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”
For a closer look at the reality of God’s love, read these Bible passages:
1 John 4:7-19
— Kurt Bruner
Sheet of construction paper, pencil, an envelope, index card, Bible
Copy the following Bible verse on an index card and place it in an envelope: “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3).
- Hold your child in your lap at the dinner table. Hold up the envelope you prepared earlier. Explain that it contains a message about your child. Open the envelope and read the verse. Explain how God gave you (Mommy or Daddy) a wonderful present. Your child is a gift from God. Clap your hands and cheer. Let your child join you. Remind him that you love him very much.
- Next, spread out the construction paper on the table. Trace the hands of your child so the thumbs of the traced hands touch.
- Draw a large heart around your child’s outlined hands.
- Explain that God’s love surrounds your child like the heart around his traced hands. Have the child repeat, “God loves me,” if he is able. Save the heart as a special valentine to your child.
— Charlotte Adelsperger
Children love a treasure hunt. Help them hunt for the best treasure of all: God’s love for them.
First, cut out a large heart from poster board or construction paper. On the heart, print a Bible verse about God’s love, such as John 3:16, 1 John 3:16 or 1 John 4:10. Children may decorate the heart with crayons, markers, valentine stickers or other art supplies.
When you’ve completed the heart message, turn it over, draw intersecting lines and cut into puzzle pieces. With your children out of the room, hide the puzzle pieces, along with several valentine candies. Then call your children back in, and let the hunt begin.
When your kids find all the puzzle pieces and candy treasures, have them reassemble the heart. Review the Bible verse, and explain that, although the candy treasures were a nice surprise, the best treasure of all is Jesus’ love.
Now think of someone who is lonely or hurting. If the person is a child, put the puzzle pieces in a decorative envelope or bag so the child can enjoy putting the puzzle together, too. If he or she is an adult, glue the pieces to poster board, and deliver the message with valentine candies.
— Beth Prassel
Cultural influences can be a powerful factor in the way tweens define their worth. So reinforce that your child’s value should be grounded in God’s love.
Popularity vs. value
Encourage your tween to talk openly about how kids at school confuse popularity with a person’s worth.
- When teams are being picked at school, do you want to be picked first or last?
- What does being picked first mean? What does being picked last mean?
- Does being picked first make you more valuable as a person?
- What’s the difference between a person’s worth and her popularity?
Although everyone likes being popular, popularity is not the same as a person’s value.
The value of a person
- Who created the standard for a person’s worth?
- Why is human life valuable?
The value of life stems directly from the value God places on it. His great love for His people is reflected in His design, making humans in His image.
The value of my neighbor
- Why are you of value to God — because of what you do, who you know or what you have?
- God made human life valuable. How can you respect and honor people around you, such as your classmates?
Pray with your tweens: Ask God to help them find their value in Him and look for ways to affirm the worth of others.
— Pam Woody
Talking With Your Teens
Some high school teens dread Valentine’s Day — once a source of colorful cards, class parties and candy. They feel they’re the only ones who aren’t walking hand-in-hand with adoring boyfriends or girlfriends.
This Feb. 14, show teens how to celebrate love and God’s love for them by hosting a Single for a Purpose Party.
Invitations. Have your teen make a list of friends who aren’t dating or involved in a relationship.
Lighthearted fun. Design games for individual or group participation so your teens can enjoy the party without the pressure of needing to be paired as couples. For example, teens can write down the answers for such questions as “What was the tackiest Valentine’s Day gift you ever received?” or “If you could be a piece of Valentine’s Day candy, which one would you be and why?” Read the answers aloud and have partygoers guess which answer belongs to which guest.
No pity. Have the teens share one situation where God has been faithful. Let them see that God has been and still is faithful.
- After the event, talk with your teens about what transpired. Ask them: How did it feel to be a part of a gathering where no one was paired with a date?
- By throwing this party, how were you showing your friends your love for them?
- Read 1 John 4:7-12 together. In what ways has God shown His love for you?
— Erin Prater
Family Mealtime Moment
Mealtime Prayer: Thank God for the many ways He shows His love to you. Give examples. Thank Him for the people who love you and for those you love.
Appetizer: Have each person tell the other family members one thing he or she loves about each of them.
Main Course: Valentine’s Day is a special day to let others know we love them. Ask: “What did you do today to show your love for someone? What tells you you’re loved? What are other ways that we can show our love for one another?” (For example, write an encouraging note, serve breakfast in bed, clean the kitchen.)
- How does God show that He loves us?Why do you think God wants us to love one another?
- How can children show love to their parents? How can parents show love to their children?
- How can we show our love for God?
— Crystal Bowman and Tricia Goyer
This compiled article is copyright © 2008 by Focus on the Family. “Preschool Activities” © 2008 by Charlotte Adelsperger. “School-Age Activity” is © 2008 by Beth Prassel.”Tween Discussion” and “Talking With Your Teen” are © 2008 by Focus on the Family.