Wineskins Archive

December 18, 2013

Family Contentions (July-Aug 2010)

Filed under: — @ 10:58 pm and

by Edward Fudge
June 27, 2010

Three gracEmail subscribers in different states share a similar problem. All three were taught from childhood that theirs was the only true church and that their subgroup within it was the faithful remnant. God has since shown them his grace in Jesus Christ and they have rejected the sectarian spirit. Each now faces hostility and perhaps rejection from family-members whose dogmatism and Bible knowledge are in inverse proportion. One subscriber is pressured by parents; another by grown siblings; the third by a spouse. All seek advice and encouragement.

* * *

God bless these three and thousands others like them. And he has done that already — by showing them the Savior, replacing fear with hope, and assuring them that they are his well-beloved children. As for advice, I like that line popularly attributed to Hippocrates of Cos, the father of Western medicine: “first, do no harm.” Here that means not arguing with dogmatic relatives, or even discussing controversial religious issues in their presence, unless they bring up the subject, and then conversing always in the kindest and most non-confrontational manner. The Apostles Paul (1 Tim. 1:5-7; 6:3-5) and Peter (1 Pet. 3:1-2) both said as much.

Regard the spouse highly who does not yet understand the gospel. See that you show her honor (1 Pet. 3:7) and always respond to her with sincere empathy, kindness and humility (1 Pet. 3:8). Pray for all these these difficult relatives, who love you but do not know how to show it. God changed our minds, and he is able to change theirs. You can also help prepare the environment for God to work. That involves showing love to your relatives (if in doubt what that looks like, just practice the golden rule).

As you pray, watch for opportunities to speak a constructive word — not of argument but of witness to God’s grace and what it has meant to you. Always speak gently and respectfully, even if the other party does not (1 Pet. 3:15-16). More people’s minds have been changed by seeing the Spirit’s fruit in another individual than by any amount of logic or reasoning. It is very difficult to argue with character — or with someone who refuses to argue back. Your critics’ minds are mistaught but their hearts know better. Eventually their hearts can help lead their minds to the truth.


Copyright 2010 by Edward Fudge. Permission hereby given to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail without change and without financial profit.

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