Faithfulness Is Not
Family relationships are hard. Each member is an individual with differing opinions, preferences, and personalities. It is easy to start a mental scoreboard of he said/she said in order to try to justify hurt feelings or disagreements. In our families, living a life of faithfulness is not a call to equality or reparation or solidarity. Unfortunately, sometimes family relationships remain strained and difficult and hurtful. Living a life of faithfulness is not living a life of guaranteed fulfillment. Living a life of faithfulness is not living a life with restored relationships and fruitful families. Our call to faithfulness in our families is not dependent on their response or appreciation, but is dependent on our obedience to God.
Faithfulness in families is not about teaching and training our family members to behave according to our personal preference, but is an opportunity to grow in Christlikeness ourselves. Second Peter 1:5-7 says, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” When we are walking in faith with our Savior, we are to put on His character. By putting on His character, we seek the eternal good of those we encounter. Regardless of the circumstance, we are able to display steadfast faithfulness in love towards our family members as an example of the unconditional love of Jesus. Our behavior is not dependent on the behaviors or others, but rather dependent on what Christ has already done on our behalf.
Faithfulness in families is not about creating a level playing field or evening out the score card. Faithfulness in families is controlling your half of the conversation by consistently speaking and acting in a peaceful manner. The book of Proverbs offers wisdom for relationships and communication. In chapter 19:11 it says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” As humans, we seek to win arguments and to prove our points valid. When living faithfully towards our families, it is beneficial to give the benefit of the doubt and to seek clarification by not jumping to conclusions and pursuing arguments. In chapter 17:9 is says, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” When we are living the faithful family life we do not need to relive past hurts or disappointments. For the sake of the relationship, there are times where it is better to defer to the needs of others to seek peace. Faithfulness in families is not about winning or losing, but faithfulness in families is about freely providing second and third chances and working towards peace in every interaction.
Faithfulness in families is not about living under the weight of emotional baggage, but faithfulness in families is about forgiving others with no further expectations. Family relationships are prime ground for hurt feelings and offense, but when we live in faithfulness towards our family we are able to forgive freely as the Lord has forgiven us. The Apostle Paul entrusts believers in Colossians 3:13, “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” We misconstrue forgiveness as available in exchange for an apology. Sometimes that apology is not given and justice is not served. Even then, as we are one with Christ, through His power we are able to faithfully forgive our families to walk in the freedom of Christlikeness.
The idea of faithfully loving, serving, and forgiving our families grinds our gears. Our natural inclination is towards self preservation and sometimes this process of faithfulness seems like giving up the fight. Because that is exactly what we are doing. When we faithfully obey the Lord we deny ourselves and die to our desires. We love our families as Christ loves them and we remember that in doing so, we are truly loving God. Galatians 1:10 states, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Faithfulness in families is not a promise for renewed relationships and peaceful gatherings. Faithfulness is families is the call of Christ on our lives to obedience, to sound speech, and to forgiveness for Christ’s sake.
Families are a major part of God’s good creation. But because we live in a sin filled world, the good order of God has been disrupted and family life can be messy and frustrating. This provides an opportunity for God to mold and grow us into His image. Let us look at our family relationships as an opportunity to faithfully obey God and display His character.
*There are some family relationships that are abusive and damaging. This post refers to the strains and stresses of human interaction within the family system and not instances of physical, emotional, or mental abuse.