Poetry, touch, gifts, time and words are all important and powerful expressions of love. Our loved ones should be surrounded by these; often they will express their immediate gratitude to us for such kindness. But love is not limited to these obvious demonstrations. God loves us in many other ways—ways that we are called to remember and emulate:  service, longsuffering, sharing burdens, labor, kindness, humility, respect—all of these demonstrate our love day-in-and-day-out.

The Bible teaches us that there is another important expression of love: “whom the Lord loves He chastens.” (Heb. 12:6). Moreover, to not chasten those who are under our care (when they are in need of it), is to not love them. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Pr. 13:24). The child might not perceive such discipline as an expression of love at the time, but those who have been trained by it will be grateful to those who loved them enough to keep them in the way of righteousness. In many ways, this expression of love is the most difficult because it involves the greatest sacrifice. It often goes unappreciated in the short run; it has to wait for a return. Parents and pastors must keep a long view of love. Cultivation is hard work but the harvest is sweet.