So, I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being. (Ephesians 3:13-16 ESV)
The definition of the word “family” means many things in today’s society. Google offers two distinct meanings of family: “a group of parents and children living together in a household,” and “all the descendants of a common ancestor.”
Given the societal changes in this present-day world, family does not mean the same thing to everyone. “To some, the true meaning of family means a group of people related by blood or ancestry. To others, it has nothing to do with genes and everything to do with love, compassion, and support.” (Google)
In many ways, strong family bonds are not maintained as they once were. Some have allowed the throes of life to interfere with what God has ordained. However, family, with Christ at the center, is everything!
Then how does the Word define “family”? Let’s take a look at a few verses to make this determination of who family is in the eyes of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
Genesis 2:23-24 (KJV) — “And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Respect the sanctity of marriage. Do not allow man to tear apart what God has ordained.
Exodus 20:12 (ESV) — “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Obey, respect, and honor your parents because if you do not, God will shorten your days. However, your days can still be shortened if you do what God says in this verse, but if you don’t, you will be cut off.
Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) — “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This is a commandment that God gave us as a responsibility and an obligation as parents. Children should not be raising themselves; that is our duty as parents. If we fulfill this commandment as parents and the child should go astray, at least he/she will have a foundation to fall back on later in life.
Proverbs 17:6 (NIV) — “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” Grandchildren are seen as jewels in the eyes of their grandparents. As parents, we should live so that our children will be proud to call us their parents and not be ashamed of us.
Colossians 3:13 (NIV) — “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Family, no one is perfect. Therefore, be ready to forgive when one of your family members has wronged you. God expects you to do the right thing in your wrong. Be there for one another, especially in times of trials.
The only way the family unit is going to survive is if Christ is at the center. This is not just for the parents and children, but everyone who is a part of that family’s name. Today, families fall out with each other and let years go by before they even speak to each other again. Holding a grudge against your own flesh and blood is not pleasing in God’s sight. However, effectual, fervent prayer and forgiveness can change a grudge to love, compassion and peace like never before.
Something very important concerning family … when your family is going through a challenging situation (be it sickness, death, financial strain, etc.), be there for them if you can and don’t wait to be asked. Love does, not says! Further, keep in mind that as family members, we are not all going to remain the same physically, emotionally, financially or mentally. Circumstances in life change us sometimes, even the more reason why we must keep Christ at the center of our family relationships.
In my closing this week, I want to leave you with an illustration, “A Soldier’s Story,” (anonymously written), that is sure to stun you and make you think the next time someone in your family genuinely needs a favor.
“A story is told about a soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in Vietnam. He called his parents from San Francisco.
“‘Mom and Dad, I’m coming home, but I have a favor to ask. I have a friend I’d like to bring home with me.’
“‘Sure,’ they replied. ‘We’d love to meet him.’
“‘There’s something you should know,’ the son continued. ‘He was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mind and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us.’
“‘I’m sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live.’
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)