Everything had been perfect, from the shiny silverware to the golden-brown turkey. Guests had enjoyed the perfectly cooked potatoes with a square lump of butter on top alongside their bright green beans. Scoops of ice cream ladled with caramel syrup and chocolate shavings had been set by each place for dessert. But now the guests were gone. I sighed at the sweet memory of the evening. My family walked into the room, and I turned to them. “Okay, now you guys can eat,” I said. They sat down to partake of the leftovers off of smudged silverware, chewing the bones and scraping the bottom of the bowls.
I promise, I have never literally done this to my family. But I have often done it figuratively. Here’s how. It’s been a long day. I’m walking to my car after work, ready to get home and crash (even though I know that a pile of homework is waiting for me….) I’m almost to my car when a co-worker walks up and says hello. A smile instantly floods my face and I chat happily for a few minutes before I climb into the car. Alone again, my face melts into an emotionless expression. When I reach home, I pull the van up the driveway, climb out of the car, and walk in the door. Cheerful voices greet me, excited that I’ve returned home. I smile, but not as wide as I smiled at my co-worker. I chat, but it’s disinterested instead of engaged and I go upstairs to my room.
Sadly, I find that it’s a lot easier to give my family the leftovers instead of my best. Everyone else in my life gets my best efforts. My family? Well, they get whatever is left. What do I mean? Well, I’ll spend over an hour on the phone with a friend, but do I take the time to talk with my sister? I make a lot of effort to listen to friends and co-workers, but do I try just as hard to listen to my brother? I smile brightly at friends, co-workers, clients, and customers, but is my family greeted by only a small grin? I have a lot of grace for the shortcomings of others, but if a family member steps out of line…it’s another story.
These little things betray my priorities and they reveal who I really am. “You are only as holy as you are at home,” Eric Ludy wrote, in a book he penned with his wife, Leslie. This phrase has been ringing through my mind in recent weeks. I may seem holier to the people that aren’t my family, but who I really am is who I am each day with my family.
God has called us to love each other. There are so many verses in the Bible in which we are called to show honor, respect, service, and so much more toward the people in our lives. How often we overlook our families. But they deserve as much love, honor, respect, service, etc. as anyone else. Here are some areas that God has been impressing on my heart in which I can seek to show love and my best toward my family.
- Show your family “perfect courtesy” with grace, good manners, and respect:“To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2)
- Extend grace and forgiveness to your parents and siblings: “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).
- Be humble and meek toward your family members instead of always defending yourself, vying for your rights, and focusing on yourself: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
- Seek to be unified and not at conflict with your family members: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
- Encourage your family in their individual lives and walk with the Lord; don’t tear them down or discourage them: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
- Show your parents and siblings the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
- Seek to love your family with true, sacrificial love, not wishy-washy, only-when-you-feel-like-it love: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).
- Be honest and keep your word to your family members: “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy” (Proverbs 12:20).
- Spend time with your family, enjoying them and nurturing your relationships with your parents and siblings. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39b).
Perhaps this all sounds rather impossible. Let that impossibility and discouragement drive you to the cross, where Jesus has the answers. Jesus was the only one who was perfectly holy no matter where He went. And He will give us grace in our weakness to pursue holiness at home and in every area of our lives. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Our families are the most important people in our lives. They deserve our best efforts and love. And, let me tell you, it’s pretty amazing to give your family your best instead of your worst. It makes home life so very sweet. I’m grateful to be so close to my family and able to consider them my best friends. I want them to clearly see and know just how much I love them. God is working in me as I seek to give my family my best. Will you join me? Let us seek to give our families the lavish feast of our love, not our leftovers.
Christina Book is owned by Christ, loves to minister, and blogs at www.mattersofherheartministries.blogspot.com She lives in Michigan with her loving parents and five wonderful siblings and it’s her desire to love and serve Christ, for though she is imperfect, her Lord is so perfect and His grace is her strength. She enjoys devotions, writing, being a junior at Moody Distance Learning, kiddos, movies, music, talking (loud and fast, usually!), reading, people, sunsets, laughing, and having bare feet.