“Jesus… would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’ For not even his brothers believed in him. Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.'” “Now Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’” John 7:1-6; 20:24-25
There are several instructive vignettes in Jesus’s life with His siblings and disciples that pull back the curtain on family dynamics. Jesus’s own brothers didn’t initially understand or believe in Him. Peter was impulsive, owning great faith, an often-uncontrolled tongue, and always a strong opinion. John knew Jesus loved him, but he and brother James, nick-named “sons of thunder,” craved positions of esteem, an ambition likely planted by their mother, who thought they were so entitled. Thomas waffled between bold comrade and doubting skeptic, devil’s advocate. What I love about Jesus is that He loved every one of them well, and spoke and ministered to each according to his specific personality, weakness, need for growth, correction, and affection. (Matthew 16:16-17,21-23; 20:20-24; Mark 3:17; 10:35-41; John 11:16; 13:23)
Whether related or not, there are people among whom we live, work, and worship, with whom we are bonded by God’s omniscient plan and Holy Spirit. In His creative mastery and wisdom, God intends the varied blessings and challenges in these relationships to display His beauty and develop our unique personalities and character, to teach us Christ-likeness in our thinking and doing. (Philippians 2:2-7)
What prevents our loving well those in the family God has given us? An air of superiority and knowing best, of disdain for another’s choices or political views, of impatience for a loved one’s maturing? Jesus has covered my multitude of sins, and when I love others through Him, His love does the same– covering their sins I would otherwise dwell on, and sins against me that would otherwise foster hurt or bitterness. In a family, our bond of fidelity and love should override lesser things and free us to pursue common purpose and sanctification. (1 Peter 4:8)
Am I willing to disregard others’ weaknesses and quirks and chafing, and rather, try to understand them? Petty irritations focus on me, compassion on the other. Will I be bold enough to lay aside a healthy dose of my preferences and tastes and desires to pour out blessing and encouragement? Can I deliberately stop letting certain things get under my skin, and instead remember Jesus died for every flaw and bit of fickle, and extend His grace? Can I set aside my agenda to listen attentively, and respond with mercy, kindness, and affirmation?
Lord, help me love my beloved family better. May I set aside self to build up and bless Your people.