Family. Say this word in a room of 300 people, and I guarantee you will be met with a large variety of responses. For some, this word brings to mind great love: a healthy relationship with parents, siblings, spouse, and children. Others feel sadness, reminiscing on the lives of loved ones no longer with them. Still others feel angry. Growing up with an abusive father or an absent mother, their perception of family brings with it nothing but a world of pain. Regardless of how you see your family, it is undeniable that they have played an enormous role in shaping you into the person you are today. In fact, there will likely never be a more powerful influence on your life—whether that be positive or negative—than your family. As such, it ought to be a no-brainer that a healthy relationship with one’s family should be both widely desired and chased after.
God takes family extremely seriously, and the Bible holds the Christian family to a high standard. Consider 1 Timothy 5:8, for example, in which we read:
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (ESV; emphasis mine)
Denied the faith? Worse than an unbeliever? That’s strong language. We need to realize, however, the horrible testimony we bear upon Christianity when we fail to provide for our families. As a teenager, you may be wondering: “Provide for my family…? Isn’t that my parents’ job?” While it may not rest on you to provide financially for your family at this time, there are other ways in which you contribute to the overall health of your family. I could list numerous such ways, but I believe that your responsibility to your family is best summed up in one word: love. You are responsible to love your family. What does that look like? Let’s dive into one of my favorite passages in the entire Bible: 1 Corinthians 13.
“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 is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (ESV; emphasis mine)
You are responsible to be patient with your family…even when patience is the farthest thing from your mind. You’re responsible to respond with kindness…regardless of any insults hurled at you by a sibling. You’re responsible to be happy for the successes and victories of your family members, choosing gratefulness over jealousy. You’re responsible to always assume the best, and to endure even when things get tough. You’re responsible to love.
Not happy with one (or several) of the relationships you have with your family members? Do something about it. Make a change now, because healthy relationships with your family aren’t going to form without serious investment and commitment on your part.
I want to leave you with one final example of what real love looks like in the context of family.
Several years ago, one of the elderly ladies in our church lost her husband. She’s one of the sweetest people I have ever met, and her kindness never ceases to amaze me. Recently, she had to undergo surgery, and I went with my dad to visit her at the hospital after the surgery was completed. As I walked through the doors into the ICU ward where she was staying, I was blown away by the sight that met my eyes. Sitting at the bedside of this elderly woman was another widow—her daughter-in-law. Why was I blown away? I was blown away because I wasn’t in the least bit surprised to see this particular woman at the bedside of her mother-in-law. For the past 5-6 years, I have watched this younger woman selflessly and without complaint see to every need of her mother-in-law. Every single one. I would imagine that most people’s relationship with their in-laws dies with the death of their spouse, and to a degree, this makes sense. After all, their spouse is obviously their primary connection to their in-laws. Yet, not so with this woman. Instead, this woman (whose name is very ironically Ruth) now pours into her mother-in-law the same time, love, and energy she once poured into the life of her husband. Not once have I walked away from any time spent with these two women without feeling amazed, inspired, and to a degree, ashamed, for I know that my attitude in such circumstances would never be so selfless—at least at this point in my spiritual maturity.
Join me today in resolving to love our families in a way that makes the world want the only relationship more important than that with our families: a relationship with Jesus Christ.