Love from friends can encourage and empower. This kind of love is different than the agape love from God. This love in Greek is “phileo.” Phileo love is characterized by approval, kindness, sanctioning, welcoming, befriending, and fondness.1
I think of David and Jonathan when I think of this kind of love (1 Samuel 18:1-4, 20), the love where self comes second and the other comes first. Jonathan risked his life to protect David.
Now, something parents often do is say, “Be nice to everyone.” Being nice is different than being loving and kind. Being nice means doing whatever it takes so that others are happy. Think about what that would look like in a teenage friendship. When we indoctrinate our children with the “be nice to everyone,” mantra, we can actually enable them to be doormats and victims not missionaries.
Is it more important for our children to make others happy or to do the right thing no matter how it makes others feel?
Being loving and kind are actions rooted in God’s truth.
If we are being nice and trying to make everyone happy, will we tell others the truth about Jesus and their need for them because of their sin? No.
So, is it loving to not tell people the truth about their need for a Savior so they can continue to be comfortable in their beliefs? No.
Remember, God is love (1 John 4:8). So sharing the truth about God is loving, no matter if it makes others uncomfortable.
Kindness is being good (doing the right thing no matter what) out of the tenderness of our hearts. Kindness is loving someone enough to tell them the truth about Jesus even though it may make them uncomfortable. Kindness is loving Jesus enough to make classmates frustrated with us because we won’t lie to the teacher about them cheating on a test or cover for them so they can sneak alcohol into a basketball game.
Jonathan risked his own life for David because he knew David was innocent and his father was wrong. Jonathan did the right thing because He trusted God and it was the right thing to do.
The way we train our children to love and be kind to their friends is to tell them the truth about Jesus and to do the right thing no matter how it makes their classmates feel.
And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself. 1 Samuel 20:17
Have you been teaching your children to be nice or to be loving and kind?
1Dave Jenkins, January 15th, 2021, biblestudytools.com, Accessed January 2, 2022, https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/why-we-all-need-more-phileo-love-this-year.html