It comforts me to know that some families get along and genuinely love one other.
Unfortunately, whole families, or healed families, have become the exception, rather than the rule today.
Before Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, He said to His disciples; Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35) In another instance, Jesus said that all those who do His Father’s will are His brothers, sisters, and mother. (Matthew 12:50) Though blood may be thicker than water, yet spirit is thicker than blood. And if a family is related both by blood and spirit, then the bond should be that much stronger. Those who are true followers of Christ, being members of His Church, should hold love as their banner, especially the love they have for their brothers and sisters in Christ.
The whole world longs for love and forgiveness, yet they don’t even know Jesus, nor do they know the price for love or forgiveness. The Church should show love better than the world, because they know Love, yet their light is hidden far too often underneath a bushel or completely drowned out by waves of hatred or distaste for each other and/or for those outside their inner circle. But when I see hatred coming from those who claim to know Jesus, it is hard for me to believe that they believe in Jesus at all; they clearly don’t follow Him, nor can they perfectly love Him when they have hatred and unforgiveness in their hearts.
No matter the rift that breaks families, if Christ is claimed as Savior and Lord of both sides, then hatred, backbiting, and slander should never be heard on either side. If, however, one side does not proclaim to be followers of Christ, then we must not be surprised if they should bear bitter fruit.
I understand there are disagreements and clashes of personality, even within the church. But for two parties who proclaim Christ as their Lord and Savior, there is always a way to peaceably hold off conflict, and there is never a cause for bitterness or hatred. When a Christian must deal with those in the world, who do not have Christ as an example and friend, it may be that peaceable resolution is impossible, yet bitterness and hatred within the Christ-follower is still not the answer.
If you proclaim Christ as your Lord and Savior, then this is true of you; you have been saved by grace. That grace was bestowed upon you when you did not deserve it in the least. So, a follower of Christ should have a mindset and “heartset” of grace, so that bitterness can never take root; because, where bitterness takes root, hatred makes its home. Within such a home, there is no room for love. And if there is no room for love, how can there be room for God? I am not saying that you must tell an unrepentant soul that you forgive them. You have no power to do what they have never asked for. I am not even saying that you have to like them or be best friends with them. But what you must do is forgive them before God, laying aside all bitterness, wrath, anger, backbiting, and slander. (1 Peter 2:1, Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8) If you forgive them before God, then when they come before you to repent, you will be able to forgive them without hesitation and receive them as God would want you to; running to them with open arms and joyful tears.
You cannot force a soul to repent by destroying their name or telling them how much you hate them.
If there is any love in your heart, if Jesus truly abides in you, then you would pray for your enemies, repent of any hatred in your heart, and lay vengeance in the hands of God; you would open your heart to God’s grace; and you would be humble enough to admit when you are in the wrong.
If you feel hopeless, that there is no way to resolve the conflict, then step away before lasting damage is done. Pray for yourself and for the one who has done you wrong. Seek Christ first. Allow Him to soak into your soul and heal your hurt.
“To our eyes, nothing may change. But we will feel refreshed and God will be at work. We cannot pray for someone and stay bitter.” (G. Frear)
It is a terrible thing that the ones we love most can inflict the deepest wounds upon us. But it is because love persists that it hurts so much; that is one of the side effects of love. If God did not love us, then He would not have died for us. He suffered pain, because His love was greater than our hatred for Him.
I have seen quite a few families, mine included, that persist in loving those who hate them. It hurts. Sometimes, it feels like you can hardly breathe. But in that moment of deepest pain is when God comes in to comfort and encourage us to press on, because we are doing as He commands. Knowledge that we are in the right does not give any comfort, but the knowledge that God is on our side and He is pleased, that is the greatest comfort of all.
Sometimes, the beaten down are tempted to become cold and indifferent or to respond in kind, but such reactions are not fruits of the Spirit, they are fruits of the flesh. If the one who is in opposition to you wishes to bear rotten fruit, you cannot allow that fruit to rot your soul. Such fruit is ultimately not directed at you, but at the One you serve. Jesus took the greatest punishment for your sake, so if you suffer in His name, then you are truly blessed.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our comfort also abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:5)
Blessed are those who persevere in the Lord, trusting that He is able to save them and bring them to a home of eternal rest and love.
On this side of Heaven, we cannot see the full weight of our actions or the actions of others, yet we know that God blesses the broken and the humble in spirit and He never breaks His promises.
In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
This pain is just for a moment. This rejection will turn to arms wide open. But while you are in the waiting, remember that you are never alone. All those who follow the Lord and keep His commandments are one family. Though blood should reject you, spit in your face, mock you, and call for your death, think not on those things, but on the Savior Who suffered all those things on your behalf and has given you an eternal family.
Jesus calls us to love one another, and He also says this:
Think not that I AM come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I AM come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after Me, is not worthy of Me. He that finds his life shall lose it, and he that loses his life for My sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)
Though everyone leaves your side, Jesus cannot. When you have repented and sought His deliverance, you have become part of Him, part of His family, and He has become part of you and has given you a family; He cannot deny Himself nor will He ever forsake you. (2 Timothy 2:13)
I wrote this post for mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters.
We are all one family in Christ and the powers of darkness have no hold on us.
Let us rise above the workings of the world.
Let us love with an enduring love.
Let no root of bitterness grow in our hearts.
Let truth be spoken out of zealous love, though the heavens fall.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of Him, the whole family in heaven and earth is named. May He grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us; unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Do not take this post as an excuse for sin; for an unbeliever to continue to live in sin. Take this post how it was intended; that the bitter and hateful should no longer strive needlessly; that they would lay down their pride and cry out on behalf of those who have done them wrong and those whom they have wronged.
This world is full of broken people and broken families, but God is in the business of healing the most broken in spirit and creating a new life that bears the fruits of His Spirit.
The truth is that sin, in any form, brings death and eternal separation from God. But as long as we live and have breath, there is hope for grace and forgiveness at the foot of the cross. Though sins and injuries are grievous, and would drag down every soul to Hell, yet the grace of God is stronger.
Repent, therefore, and find freedom and life in the arms of Jesus.
No matter what your choice, you are loved, but the pain in your parting will be far greater if reconciliation is not made before the end. That is the curse of love, for it can bring the greatest joys and it can suffer the greatest abuse. May your heart bow before the end and may we rejoice as one family in Christ, one family in blood.
Amen and Amen. Even so, please answer our heart cries, Lord Jesus.
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