"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12
One of the most direct examples of the kingdom of God on the earth is the family unit. God longs to use the love between family members to tell the world of his love as the Creator and Father of all. As believers, we must choose to continually love, forgive, help, and pursue strong relationships with those God has given us as our family.
You are not a member of your family by mistake. Psalm 139:13 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” God formed you perfectly for your family. He had plans for you and your family before the formation of the heavens and the earth. And he has placed your family on the earth intentionally and purposefully. He has incredible plans for a family that will pursue love for each other and walk in his eternal purposes.
Your heavenly Father knows the follies of your family. He knows their weaknesses, trials, and temptations. But he also longs to empower you with grace to love them. He longs to use you to restore your family to him so that you might experience the wonders of God-filled family relationships.
Scripture is filled with commandments about the family unit. Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Ephesians 5:22 says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” And later in Ephesians 5:25 it says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Proverbs 17:6 says, “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “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.” And Leviticus 25:35 says, “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.” God clearly values the family unit.
The commands of Scripture are not suggestions based on how your family has treated you in the past. They are loving commands from your Lord who has the absolute best plan in store for you behind every word. God knows that there are wounds from your family. He knows that loving them can be difficult, especially when your love isn’t reciprocated. But he is calling you to a lifestyle of grace-filled love for those he has specifically given to you. He will provide for you all the courage, strength, power, and grace you need. He longs to help you love your family into restoration. Have patience with them. Pray constantly for them. And love them as your Lord Jesus has loved you: passionately, faithfully, and gracefully.
1. Meditate on God’s command to love your family. Allow Scripture to influence the way you view the importance of loving your family.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” Ephesians 5:22-29
“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.” Leviticus 25:35-38
2. Pray for your family. Pray for each family member specifically, and ask God to meet and bless them. As you pray for them, allow the Lord to fill you with grace and love. Allow God to fill you with the knowledge of how he feels about them.
“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints . . . .” Ephesians 6:18
3. Ask God to empower you to love your family well today. Ask him to give you a creative way to love them. Pursue forgiveness in your own heart as well as with your family. God will help you do what you have felt is impossible. He will fill you with the strength to love your family well.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
As you grow in your pursuit of loving your family well, look to Jesus as your model. He loved all those around him perfectly. Sometimes he would speak the truth in love. Other times he would rest with those who simply needed to be around him. Other times he would provide for their physical needs. The Holy Spirit will give you wisdom into exactly how to love your family if you will open your heart and ask him for it. May your family be blessed by the love of God working through you today.
Extended Reading: 1 Corinthians 13