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‘We Do Not Know How to Love’

Barbara Rainey talks about her Valentine’s Day resource designed to help families learn how to love others with the power of Christ.

Editor's Note: First Corinthians 13 is the famous "Love Chapter"—a memorable description of love that becomes even more profound when you realize it also describes God's love for His children. This Scripture passage is also the foundation for How Do I Love Thee?, a resource from Ever Thine Home®. How Do I Love Thee? includes 15 paper hearts that form a garland; each heart tells a short story on love—perfect for family conversations. 

In the following interview, adapted from a two-part FamilyLife Today® series, Barbara Rainey talks about our need to learn how to love others—and our need to pass on that knowledge to our children.

Dennis Rainey: The world is sending false messages about what love is—where it comes from. Think of how Hollywood portrays love.

Barbara Rainey: It's feelings … it's romantic … it doesn't take any work.

Bob Lepine: Well, forget Hollywood. My own flesh is telling me that love is all about me and about what satisfies me.

Dennis: I think it might just be a good idea to read the passage that Barbara has really focused on with her Valentine's resource for families. Let me just read it—1 Corinthians 13, beginning in verse 4—and just think about what Bob said about this being a rebuke—challenging us to get it right: "Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It's not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things. Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."

Bob: This is who we are not. This is who Jesus is. So the call to families and the call to all of us—is not just to get our love-act together—but it's to be in Him so that His love can flow through us, right?

Barbara: Exactly, because we really do not know how to love. We think we do, but we do not know how to love. … The only way we can love and love well is to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ and to know Him—so that His love can flow through us to other people. Because we're broken, and we don't know how to do it. "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). We would not be able to love if He didn't first love us.

Bob: Where did the idea come from to do this new resource?
Barbara: I know families talk about Valentine's Day. I know that kids are thinking about it because they're going to exchange Valentines in their classes with their friends.

My real motivation was to equip moms and dads to be able to talk about it at home in a meaningful way, and to teach their kids the essence of love—where it comes from, why we fail at loving, why we're not good lovers, and how we can learn to love in a relationship with Christ. So it just makes sense to help moms and dads do that as the country is naturally thinking about Valentine's Day anyway …

[The resource] is a reminder for everyone in the family—for February 1 through February 14 and then, hopefully, beyond—that this is what love is all about. As you add the hearts, one day at a time, through the first two weeks of February, you're adding to the descriptors of what love is all about, what it looks like, and how we can be more loving.

Bob: Now, when you came up with this idea, one of the first things you had to do was dig a little deeper into 1 Corinthians 13.

Barbara: A lot deeper!

Bob: And what stood out to you as you really spent time in that passage?

Dennis: I'll tell you what stood out—I got a new wife!

Bob: Oh, really?

Barbara: Oh, no, no, no. It's not that dramatic.

Dennis: But I have noticed a change—in just our relating back and forth with each other. I think she absorbed this from the Scriptures, and I think God's Spirit is using it in her life. She's ministered to me as a result of that.

Barbara: I think what stood out to me was how guilty I was of not being able to do any of these [qualities of love in 1 Corinthians 13]. I mean, I've always known that patience was an issue. I had a hard time with being patient with my kids. I have a hard time being patient with my husband. I just think, naturally, we want what we want—and we want it when we want it—so that one was not too much of a surprise.

But some of the other ones were more of a surprise as I got into what it really means … One of them says, "Love is not arrogant." I've never really thought of myself as an arrogant person—but it means when you're thinking about yourself first. It's just very convicting to realize how unable, in our own power—how unable I am, in my own power—to love well …

It's a way for families to focus on love—biblical love/God's love—around Valentine's. Valentine's tends to be kind of sappy and sentimental; or we think Valentine's is only for couples, and it's romantic. But love is from God … He teaches us how to love, and He shows us how to love. In my opinion, Valentine's should be about learning about love—love for one another—in any relationship that you're engaged in.

Copyright © 2016 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Next Steps

1. Listen as Barbara Rainey tells FamilyLife Today® listeners about the How Do I Love Thee? resource.

2. Purchase How Do I Love Thee? and learn more about Ever Thine Home® resources. 

3. The most meaningful of love letters are simply true, humble expressions of the heart. Read “The Legacy of a Love Letter” and “How to Write a Love Note.”

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