Take Care of Your Spiritual Family
“Do not rebuke an older man [in the church] harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (1 Timothy 5:1-2, NIV)
If you follow Jesus, you can’t just care about your own family. You must also care about God’s family -- your spiritual family.
Who is your spiritual family? It’s your brothers and sisters in the family of God.
Jesus said, “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50 NIV). That means, if you follow Jesus, you and I are related! God’s grace through Jesus Christ bonds us together as family. You’ve heard the old phrase, “Blood is thicker than water.” That’s true! But grace is thicker than genetics.
A letter to some of the first Christians says, “Do not rebuke an older man [in the church] harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2 NIV). God wants you to see other people in the body of Christ as your spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters.
The Bible tells us Jesus had a biological family and grew up with brothers and sisters. In fact, he had four half-brothers and at least two half-sisters -- they were Mary and Joseph’s other children. They show up many times in Scripture, watching Jesus do miracles and trying to talk him out of doing certain things. One of Jesus’ half brothers, James, actually wrote the book of James in the Bible.
But, as Jesus was dying, he did not entrust the care of his mother to any of his half-brothers or half-sisters. He entrusted her to John, his beloved disciple. Why is that? John 7:5 says that none of Jesus’ siblings had become believers yet. They were among the many people who didn’t recognize Jesus as the Son of God until after the Resurrection. It wasn’t until later in life that James became one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem.
Jesus entrusted his mom to the care of John because John was already a mature believer. John was his spiritual family, with closer ties through the bonds of grace than even the blood relation to his biological family.
God has designed his family of faith to be the same for you. You can have closer bonds with your fellow Christians than you might even have with your own family. And those close bonds should lead you to take particularly good care of your spiritual family.
Galatians 6:10 says, “Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” (NLT).
Always do whatever you can to help people in need. But pay special attention to those within your own spiritual family.
Talk It Over
What would change about the way you treat and interact with other believers if you considered them part of your family?
Who in your spiritual family needs your help or care right now? What will you do today to take care of them?
If you are not part of God’s family, what keeps you from surrendering your life to Jesus?
This devotional © 2021 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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