Our closest relatives sweeten our joys and sustain us in difficult times. Sometimes, though, living with others creates a smothered feeling and a longing to escape. Humorist Erma Bombeck entitled one of her books Family: The Ties That Bind—and Gag! If this joke hits too close to home, then perhaps my family needs to revisit the biblical teachings that make relationships healthy.
For instance, Jesus says that “if your brother sins,” he is to be rebuked, “and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). The phrase “seven times in the day” points to our weaknesses. We constantly make mistakes. We are rude, irritable, impatient, thoughtless, unsympathetic. These sins hurt the people we love the most. A sincere and humble apology (“I repent”) breaks down the barriers erected by our transgressions, and complete forgiveness frees us from the poison of resentment.
The apostle Paul tells the Philippians to “do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4). This vital teaching meets its greatest challenge in the home. On Friday a man may seem selfless as he cheerfully serves coworkers who need help with their projects. But on Saturday the same man may find it a real struggle to look out for the interests of his wife. To please her, will he happily clean up the messy garage instead of playing golf with his buddies? And to please him, will she prepare his favorite meal as an expression of thanks for his work around the house?
Actually, the Bible is rich with teachings that make family bonds strong and healthy. Read it for yourself and discover God’s blessings for your home.