by: Darlyshia Menzie
Holidays are here! You know, family gatherings, food, and so much laughter. For some, this time of the year brings drama, bad memories, and outward displays in differences of opinions. Each family has its own functions and dysfunctions, however, as believers in Christ, we are commanded to love through it all.
Think with me on the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). He decided that his life in his father’s house was not what he wanted, so he went off to “live his own life.” He partied, drank, slept around, and squandered all of his inheritance on temporary things. Once he ran out of money, all of the temporary pleasantries ran out with it and he realized he was alone, hungry, and lost in his sin. In the midst of working a part-time job feeding pigs, the thought came to him that the pigs he was feeding had more to eat than he had, so he decided to return to his father’s house. Upon seeing his son approach the house, his father was overwhelmed with joy at his return. He forgave him immediately and prepared a celebration. On the other hand, his big brother was jealous and bitter about his return. He was frustrated that he had never gotten a celebration and he served his father faithfully and hadn’t messed up like his little brother. The father explained that the welcome celebration was necessary because the family was once again complete and the prodigal son was no longer lost and on his own. All was forgiven just like that! During this holiday season, consider the principles shared through the parable of the prodigal son.
1. Forgiveness is a must! Forgive your family members for any offense they may have caused you or the family. Colossians 3:13 (ERV) states “Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity.”
2. Be available for your family. For some, you are the only bible that they will ever read. Make sure your witness is not tainted and that you are loving with the love of Christ, being careful to not be standoffish and/or overbearing. “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 (1 Timothy 5:8).”
3. Rely on the Holy Spirit to move through you. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ERV) says it best in saying “Trust in the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. With every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you along the way.” When your family is experiencing dysfunction and you aren’t sure what to say or do in response, call on the Spirit of God to guide you. You never know who, in your family, you might lead to Him or help, by depending on Him for instruction.
4. Love is always the answer. When you respond in love, you get love back. I know you’ve read 1 Corinthians 13 and it is convicting once you realize you might not have been loving your loved ones the right way. Endure with them. Don’t constantly bring up past mistakes. Be gentle in responses and patient in waiting. Don’t be arrogant in thinking that you are better, rather, be meek and enjoy the company. Don’t get yourself in a spiritual debate trying to tell a family member how to live his or her life, just love on them and let that be that. Overall, Christ is love, unconditional.
5. It’s perfectly okay to have your convictions about your faith and what you will allow in your spirit, but above all, love is the greatest focus and goal. Pray for your family members who are unsaved, but don’t beat them over the head with it. God is a gentleman and never forces Himself on us. To love God, is to love His people. Let Joshua 24:15 be your prayer for your family. “But maybe you don’t want to serve the Lord. You must choose for yourselves today. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Declare and decree it, in Jesus’ name, and let God do the rest. Your responsibility is to live an upright lifestyle before them and love them like Jesus would if He were walking this earth.
Family is a gift; never take them for granted.