Colossians 3:12 (ESV) Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
I once heard a speaker say we often treat strangers with more kindness than we do our own families and friends. In that moment, with those few words, my life changed. My mind went back to certain moments in my life. Like all the times I’ve held doors open for strangers, which is every time I walk through a public door, really. I thought to myself, What do I do for my own family that is THAT kind, expecting nothing in return? Those times when I deny loaning my friends or family money, yet I graciously give to the homeless man on the corner. When we have dinner guests, I’m charming, smiling, and happy. Yet when I cook for my own family, I’m grumbling because no one offers to help me in the kitchen.
This was a revelation for me.
I pondered on this mind-blowing new perspective for a few days. I wondered why it was natural for us to be so short-tempered and sometimes downright cruel to those we love the most. I’ve seen it in the grocery store with other families too. A man will hold a door for me, but in the next breath, curse at his child for asking for a treat. This is a hard pill to swallow. Could we be so thoughtless, so careless with our most precious of treasures? I treasure my family more than I can even explain, so why is it my nature to get frustrated with them, let that frustration turn into anger, and let that anger turn into awful words? I’ve come up with a few ideas:
- Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We are natural born sinners. Ever since Eve ate that doggone apple, we’ve all been pulled to sin. It is a part of us we have to deal with. The evil one loves to draw power from tearing families apart, so why not push us to treat our families poorly?
- Numbers 11:6 “But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at!” When Moses was in the wilderness with the Israelites, they had asked for God’s blessing of food and nourishment. After they got used to that blessing being there every day, they took it for granted and even complained about it! The Israelites were now demanding meat, weeping because manna just wasn’t sufficient. When we get accustomed to a daily blessing, we tend to forget it’s a blessing. Hence, the old adage, “Count your blessings”.
- Luke 6:33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. We spend so much time with our family, we see a lot of flaws, witness a lot of their mistakes, and form a lot of judgements and hurt feelings toward them. When I look at Luke 6:33, I see that it is commonplace for us to hold on to hurts and only give love when we receive love. It must have been a common behavior, since Jesus felt the need to address it with his people. But if we give love only when we receive it, is that really love? It’s not love how Jesus did it. All of those people who denied him, insulted him, tortured him; he still loved them. And that is love, my friend. To know that he would rescue the feet that kicked him while he was down from an eternity in hell, there is no greater love. Yet, we hold a grudge against our husbands when they forget to take out the trash. Sure puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
So what can we do about it?
Pray, pray, pray! I often find when it comes to my behavior toward my family, if I really intentionally want to change to treat them better and I pray for strength, I usually get it pretty quickly. I believe God has been waiting for this change in our hearts and is ready and willing to give us the strength to focus on good and give love unconditionally.
Make a list. For each member in your family or friends you want to treat better, create a list of their positive attributes. Your husband may forget the trash sometimes, but maybe he always takes your car in for an oil change, picks the kids up from school, or something else to show his love. Every time someone says/does something nice, or you notice a positive personality trait, write it down under their name. Just the act of writing these things will really help give you some perspective on how little the little things are and how many reasons you have to love. I would take it a step further, though, and suggest once a week to go over that list. This is a great way to count your blessings.
What would Jesus do? I know this phrase has become very popular, and of course when we see something all the time, it tends to lose its meaning. But it is a question we are called to ask. I find asking myself this before responding to anything has made it much easier to be true to what Jesus wants from me. When my kids are driving me crazy – what would Jesus do? When my friend cancels on me again – what would Jesus say? When someone insults me – what would Jesus do?
Don’t forget, ladies, we are fighting a tough battle against sin! The biggest battle has already been won, but our daily battle still lives on. Lean on each other, fellowship with each other, and be kind to one another.