The family is the key to successful living by God’s standards. It is God’s plan for the family to be a loving, supporting team that works together for the benefit of all. When the family works together for common goals, bonds are built that will support a family to overcome many difficulties. Love, selflessness and putting the other family member’s needs ahead of your own desires are vital ingredients to achieve a prosperous unit. Unfortunately, there are many influences that cause families to stray from God’s plan. Parents don’t lead by example, children choose to rebel and break the rules, and oftentimes jealousy and mistrust arise among brothers and sisters. While it is not unusual for parents and children or young adults to disagree and have hurt feelings, the family can still remain intact and grow stronger when the family’s heart is to serve God. It is the parents’ responsibility to lead the way, but everyone can participate.
When family relationships are headed in the wrong direction, let’s examine how the Bible shows how to turn it around.
From the very beginning God called for a man to leave his father and mother and join his wife and the two were to become one; they were to be fruitful and multiply (have children). And for a while it worked, but later, men and women worked so hard against God that he was sorry he made them.
To achieve his purpose, God turned to one family to carry out his mission. He chose Abraham and Sarah with their son Isaac and their grandson, Jacob (“God’s Chosen Family”). In spite of their sins, and there were many, they continued to believe they were part of His family. The Bible tells us that Jacob’s family got off to a rocky start; and Jacob contributed to the family discord when he chose to make Joseph his favorite son and gave him special gifts that made his older brothers jealous. When Joseph shared a vision from God that he would be the leader of the family, these brothers became so jealous that they secretly sold him into slavery.
Even though you would think such behavior would sever all family ties, Joseph’s attitude and deep trust in God’s plan for his future helped him to overcome his unfortunate situation. Instead of being bitter, complaining and feeling sorry for himself, Joseph became the best slave a master could possibly have. So much so that the master placed Joseph in charge of all his affairs. Unfortunately, God was not through testing Joseph’s commitment to remain faithful as he was falsely accused of breaking his master’s trust and was thrown into a deep, dark dungeon. Once again, Joseph’s attitude saved the day; he was such a good prisoner that he made the dungeon a smooth-running place.
Joseph waited patiently and remained faithful in his belief in God’s promise to make him the leader of his family. Finally, the day came when Joseph not only got out of the dungeon, but also became the leader of the greatest nation of the world. Later, he was able to save his own family from a horrible famine, including the brothers who had been so jealous of him. After their father’s death, the brothers were fearful that Joseph would try to take his revenge against them, but Joseph quickly informed them, “Do not be afraid, for I am in God’s place. What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”
In spite of all the jealousy and hurt feelings, and even the evil acts, Joseph understood that it was all part of God’s plan. Joseph was faithful to honor God and forgave his brothers. As a result, he was able to bring all of his family together into one place so that they could serve God and grow into a great nation. Through Joseph, not only was his family blessed, but also all of the nations were saved.
In the same way Jesus came to save us so that we could all become part of God’s family. He wants us to love and support one another and grow as a family. So, if you are at odds with members of your family over something that was done to you or maybe something that you did, be the one to reach out and forgive or ask for forgiveness. Maybe you can be the Joseph in your family and restore the loving bond that God wants each of us to experience. Be the one who is willing to have a great attitude and be the better person that holds the family together allowing the whole family to receive God’s blessings. When times are tough, remember, we are all part of God’s Chosen Family.