You know the verse that says, ” Love your neighbor as yourself, only when they aren’t family members who have hurt you” ? ……ya me neither. But I find that sometimes we pour our love and our affection on our friends, but we go home, let our filters down and have excuses to stop being nice and respectful. Every family situation is different. We might have bitterness and baggage built up from years and years that we haven’t dealt with, or we may have tried to deal with things, but it’s hard to break through. Maybe there is just one family member you can’t get along with or forgive? We might have family members who continually treat us badly and we just don’t know how to love them while trying to deal with our own pain and hurt. We get used to the way things are and just don’t want to worry about dealing with the problems. But as Christians, God doesn’t call us to just get by with the way things have always been. He wants us to be healed and whole and free. It might be painful or a hassle to deal with years or even just a few months of drama , but think of it this way: Being healed in such a way that you can love those who hurt you, will not only save your life, but those lives you will inspire. I’m not saying you have to be BFF’s with a father who hasn’t been there for you, or buddy buddy with the sibling who has treated you badly. God calls us to love those who hurt us. But what does it mean to do so? It doesn’t mean, when you think of people you get a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart. And it doesn’t mean to keep being in an abusive situation. It doesn’t mean we have to ruin our lives trying to fix people. When it comes to family, love is about how you respond to they way they treat you. Love is about being free from reacting out of bitterness, by loving them they way God does. It means praying for them and treating them differently then they treat you.
I wish I can remember who told me this, but once someone said to me, ” The way you act with your family, is the real you.” Ouch. When I was told that, I had to do some soul-searching. I realized I would put on my social attitude when I was with friends or leading a ministry, but then I go home and my attitude was a more snappy and harsh and blunt…and leaned a bit more towards rude. If my friends asked me for a favor, I’d jump up and help, but if my brother needed help I would either say no or grumble and complain as I helped. I was shocked at the “Real Me”. Who are you around your family? Asking this question can change your life. It’s not a quick fix for sure! But God calls us to grow and to ask him to search our hearts. Ask him how he can help you love your family. 1 Corinthians says that love is patient and kind. Love does not envy and it is not rude. Love does not insist in its own way. Love is not irritable or resentful. Love rejoices with the truth. Love is all-inclusive to bearing, believing, hoping and enduring. I don’t believe this verse is meant to condemn you when you struggle with these things. This is what God calls us to, but we all fall short. But many of us are most irritable, rude, and impatient when it comes to our family. Maybe not all the time and maybe not intentionally, but let’s use this passage as a goal to aim for. We can’t ever love perfectly like God loves us, but if we try, maybe we will grow into this kind of love a little bit more each day.
Sometimes we work really hard to love others, but because we have treated our family the same way for so long, we forget that God wants us to surrender every area of our lives to him. From the moment we started living for God, God works through each part of our lives, transforming, changing, and healing. We can’t handle this change in every area all at once. Take a look at your life, and ask God, ” How do I treat my family? Do I need to work on loving them like you love me? Is this an area that needs change right now?” God wants to free you and heal you, so you are able to love everyone, including your family. You’ve only got one family so treat them as such! And God will give you the strength and ability as you do so. You don’t have to do this all on your own strength. He is able to do all things!