“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise – “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:2-4
When I was a boy I grew up in a world of yes sir, no sir, and we all need to be at church every time the doors are open. I was honored to be instructed in this way. I loved the Lord from an early age and I responded well to discipline. At least initially.
As I grew into manhood I realized that my family’s definition of who God was and how we should honor Him differed from mine. I grew to believe that what the Lord loved most was a broken and contrite heart; and that the two most important things for me to do were to love God and love people. Over time I became more passionate about my daily walk with God than anything else. My prayers seemed to have more meaning. My conversation with God– was actually a conversation. I’m still working on getting to church every time the doors are open.
I have also struggled with the difference between family and friends. Have you ever given that any thought? Family seems to have hurt me more often than friends. It’s rarely intentional, but sometimes my family does things that cause me pain.
We’ve all experienced it. Our family often believes that they have the right to treat us more poorly than others since, after all, well, they’re family. I mean, that’s actually a rationale with some people. I think Christ would agree that a godly family takes no right of familiarity in the treatment of one another. If anything, a godly family should raise the bar of how we treat one another. Not lower it.
Let’s explore further. There are some great biblical examples of friends and family. I love the story about how David and Jonathan bonded and became friends. When we study Samuel we learn about Jonathan and David—they were not technically family. But my, what a love they had for one another (Samuel 18.4).
Another Bible passage that frames my friends and family perspective is the one where Mary and Jesus’ brothers are looking for Jesus and find Him with His friends:
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt 12.46-50)
What’s really crazy is that in all of this mental warfare, prayer, praise, and prosperity, you would think I have formulated a plan to teach my kids. Now the shoe is on the other foot! You would think that I have a notebook with an outline for them to follow and a few core verses to give them some guidance. Nope, just a lot of love and a focus on my own walk. It means far more than any words that might come out of my mouth.
I believe that a broken and contrite heart is still the best way to stand at attention before God. I believe that while the family is important, so are friends, and even the strangers, the widows, and the orphans that are standing directly in my path. I believe that walking with God is less about yes sir, no sir, and perfect weekly church attendance, and more about an hourly mindset focused on our Maker, His will, and which steps He wants us to take next.
I’ve learned that through music, through scripture, and even through a run on the south end of Wrightsville Beach, there is a path to God always at the ready. He wants nothing less than to treat me like a son; He wants to treat me like family.
- What has your path of family looked like?
- Are your friends like family? Why or why not?
Oh Lord, thank you for all You have done for us. Thank you for all the blessings that family can provide, and thank you for a humble mindset when family disappoints. Thank you for forgiveness. It is the glue that holds us all together. Amen.
PC3 writer Jeff Headrick wrote today’s devotional.