Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4

To say family relationships are enigmatic is to say that seven is a prime number or that the earth orbits the sun. When someone asks you about your family relationships, answering that question is like one of the relationship status options on Facebook: It’s complicated. In those complicated moments, anger, stress, or a simple “I don’t care” attitude can be the end byproduct.

Our lives are inundated with being both practical and productive. We come to believe early on that if there’s no purpose to something, there’s no point in doing it. So if you are working your way through complicated family relationships that seem to serve no purpose, why keep banging your head against the wall. Why not invest your time, energy and sanity in more constructive purposes. That seems logical, doesn’t it? But God has different standards.

Throughout life numerous relationships are broken or breached. Trust is hurt, sometimes because of a perceived wrong, other times because of a real offense. No matter the reason, or who was wrong, or we experience breaks with friends or family, the love of Christ compels us.

There are many stories of family difficulties in the Bible. One is Jacob and Esau who were the sons of Isaac and Rebekah and the first twins mentioned in the Bible. The twins grew up very different. One day, Esau returned from hunting and desired some of the stew that Jacob was cooking. Jacob offered to give his brother some stew in exchange for his birthright. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob (Genesis 25:27-34).

When the time came for Isaac to bestow his blessing on his sons, Jacob and his mother contrived to deceive Isaac into blessing Jacob in Esau’s place. When Esau found that his blessing had been given to Jacob, he threatened to kill his brother, and Jacob fled (Genesis 27:1 – 28:7). The brothers did not care much for each other, but then we read this in Genesis 33:4: “But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”   

We see brothers reconciling, removing every barrier and running to embrace and weep. Not an alliance. Not a negotiated settlement. No face-saving theater. The real thing. Honest and deeply felt. That is how real reconciliation works. 

The apostle Paul said, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;” (2 Corinthians 5:18).  He didn’t say he had “moments of reconciliation now and then.” He said God gave him “the ministry of reconciliation.” In other words, “reconciliation is what we do. It is standard operating procedure for followers of Jesus. There is no room for “I just don’t care” or “why not just move on.” 

Sometimes it seems that giving up or not caring is the way to go. We shut down and hope God fixes what needs fixing. Remember what Jesus did for you through his life, death, and resurrection. God has poured an unlimited amount of grace, forgiveness, love, commitment, security, and commitment into your life. The love of Christ puts all of the slights, unmet expectations, and hurts of family in a totally different perspective. It doesn’t mean you ignore or don’t feel the hurts, but they pale in comparison to what you have been given in Christ. Because of who you are in Christ, you don’t have to be overwhelmed and dominated by the sins and failures of your family. Instead you should care about them as God cares about you.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is it easy to just not care anymore?
  2. The key to reconciliation is your attitude. Agree or disagree?
  3. How can we forgive when we don’t feel like forgiving? 
  4. Are there any relationships that you need to reconcile this week?