You don’t get to choose your family. I can clearly see this truth in my daughters. When my youngest daughter was born, she was born into an already established family with a built-in big sister who didn’t like her much at first! Now, they love each other. They fight like sisters naturally do, yes. But they miss each other desperately when they’re apart.
As we grow older, our families become more complicated. We gain more and more extended family members, and people go through “phases” of life that can sometimes be not so pleasant to witness or endure. Unfortunately, tragedy can strike, bad decisions are occasionally made, and feelings are sometimes hurt. So what then? How do we handle these things as a family? How do we keep peace as Christians?
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- Walk in love and compassion… always. The love that Jesus talked about and lived out was radical, to say the least. He dined with sinners… Now, this may not seem like a big deal today, but in their first-century culture, it was a VERY big deal. No religious leader would have been caught eating at the same dinner table as a known criminal or sinner. It was a social no-no.
The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.” – Luke 5:30-31
Jesus’ mission was His first priority. Above all else, He loved people regardless of their past or present. He longed to give them a future in Him, and the only way that would be possible is if they knew His love.
As children of God, we have experienced His love for ourselves. But the Bible is clear that we are now called to share that love with those around us. And this mission should be our first priority… especially when it comes to our family members.
- Turn the other cheek. I will admit… this one is incredibly hard. Even under Old Testament Mosaic Law, they weren’t required to forgive in this manner. But Jesus changed the game…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” – Matthew 5:38-42
Think about this one for a minute… Jesus is saying something quite radical in this passage. I’ll be honest, no one wants to be a doormat. Even Christians should have limits… right?
We need to remember one important thing. We, as believers, have the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our flesh will always crave an “eye for an eye.” Living a life that turns the other cheek requires us to rely on the Holy Spirit in a supernatural way. We need God’s perfect love to flow through us. Our imperfect, human love isn’t enough to live the way Jesus outlines in this passage.
Let me challenge you with this: What if every single believer lived their lives this way? What if we truly loved in this manner? What kind of impact would that have on the world? On our families?
- Pray for them. It’s easy to love those who love us. It’s harder to love those who hate us or have wronged us in some way.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven… For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” – Matthew 5:43-46
The last line of this passage says it all… anyone can love someone who is nice to them. But only someone with the love of God inside of them can truly love someone who hates them. I think the key to loving those the world would deem “unlovable” is prayer. When we pray for someone, our hearts change. We begin to see them through the eyes of God. And in His eyes, no one is unlovable.
Remember… Every single member of your family is loved by God.
I truly believe that God puts people in our lives for a purpose. We are called to influence and love, and this begins at home. We are all at different points in our journey. Your family members may be hurting or going through difficult circumstances. They may be mean or lash out. And sometimes… they are just difficult to be around. But God’s love carries us through. It transcends all things and has the ability to heal in ways that nothing else can.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.