forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly,
laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile.”
― Mark Twain
…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
Growing up in any family, I’m sure we all have our fair share of times of tension with our family members. No one is perfect … including ourselves.
A harmonious chord in the family is joyful,
however, at times its not easy to hit it.
Our home is our sanctuary, our retreat, our haven … from the world out there.
Lately, been in conversations revolving around family communications, misunderstandings, conflicts, tension, disappointment — spouse, siblings, teenage children, etc. Thankfully, by His grace, the Lord’s wisdom gave us insight.
What follows are some thoughts gleaned from these chats.
Thankfully, we are not alone.
The characters in the Bible also lived in less than postcard-perfect families,
they also faced challenges within their families, eg
Moses had disrespectful, dishonoring relatives – His leadership of Israel was challenged by his sister Miriam and brother Aaron. (Numbers 12).
David had a wayward, rebellious child, Absalom who usurped his father’s kingship (2 Samuel 13-19).
Sibling rivalry, betrayal – Joseph was sold by his brothers. (Genesis 37)
Family business issues – Jacob worked twenty years for his father-in-law, Laban, where his wages were changed 10 times (Genesis 31)
Unreliable relative – Barnabas and his cousin John Mark (Acts 15, Colosssians 4:10)
Husband-wife issues – Hosea, the trials of a faithful marriage, … restoring a failed marriage.
Hosea faced the ultimate challenge in a marriage — unfaithfulness. (Hosea 1,-3)
Thankfully, the Bible did not photoshop these stories or scandals away.
The Bible is about real people relating with the real and faithful God who loves us, who practically helps us overcome our challenges.
Romans 15:4-6 (NIV)
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
As Joseph wisely concluded to his brothers,
But as for you, you meant evil against me;
but God meant it for good,
in order to bring it about as it is this day,
to save many people alive.
21 Now therefore, do not be afraid;
I will provide for you and your little ones.”
And he comforted them
and spoke kindly to them.
(Genesis 50:20,21 NKJV)
Keep our eyes on the Lord, and His plans … His perspective of things.
When we read through the experiences of Moses, David, Joseph, Jacob, Barnabas, and Hosea in dealing with their thorny family situations, … we find a consistent thread of love, mercy, and the Lord’s grace & strength … overcoming the odds.
Strong families … build strong churches … & strong societies.
A little background first,
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments
John 14:15 (NASB)
Because we love the Lord,
we choose to follow Him and His ways.
Not out of fear, … not obligation, nor duty.
We love, because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19 (NASB)
we willingly choose to love the Lord and others,
because He first loved us.
His love changes us.
Love is our motivation.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God
Matthew 5:9 (NKJV)
Family or Home is where we learn to live, work, play, support others;
where life not only revolves around oneself, but others as well.
Compromise, give-and-take, negotiate, share … let others win.
Through strength, weaknesses,
crises, triumphs, sacrifices,
care, respect, honor,
through thick and thin,
together a loving team.
No one likes to be taken for granted or be treated rudely.
Simple ‘Please … thank you … I am sorry … May I … Would you like … etc’ ,
helps promotes peace.
Sometimes, we adults may need to re-learn what we’ve taught our children,
… ‘caring & sharing’ … ‘patience with baby brother/sister’.
Ask politely, … clarify, verify, … test assumptions,
avoid assumptions if possible,
… whether we’re a youth or a senior.
(Remember … the only stupid question is the one we did not ask.)
Indirect communications, colored by cultural nuances … can be misleading, and open up the possibility for misunderstanding.
(misunderstanding = missed understanding)
Gratitude and complements bring smiles, and brighten anyone’s day.
Encouragement and affirmation cheers up anyone.
The wise are known for their understanding,
and pleasant words are persuasive.
Proverbs 16:21 (NLT)
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life …
Proverbs 10:11 (NIV)
As families share together common space, tools, $$, etc
being considerate and grateful of each other helps.
Caring others and being mindful of their needs helps promote peace and harmony.
you want them to treat you
Luke 6:31 (TLB)
i.e. you’re a human being,
you’re worth something,
and … so is everyone else!
Have a heart, be sensitive to others.
Make others feel valued.
Handle other’s things,
like how we handle our own things.
As we like others to be reliable & faithful
let’s be reliable & faithful too.
We all play a part in taking care of our family members,
and our shared home.
In the course of time,
children grow up … parents, relatives age
… needs, priorities, carer-roles change.
A willingness to be flexible & adaptable helps,
as we supportively respond to these changes
in an understanding & practical way,
sharing, shouldering one another’s load,
As creatures of habit, … change takes time
… patience … with ourselves & others.
Sometimes, at the heart of family disputes … is just folks crying out for decent and simple respect from one another,
… being kind & considerate of one another … and maintaining respectful boundaries in relationships and actions.
Recently, asked a friend who helps conduct marriage retreats about their secret to improving marriages. His answer was that they help the couple rekindle their love for each other, by each modifying the tone and language of their communication to the tenderness and gentleness when they were courting or newly-married.
Careless words stab like a sword,
but the words of wise people bring healing.
Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul
and healthy for the body.
Proverbs 12:18 (GW), 16:24 (NLT)
People do feel the tone of our words.
Sometimes, our tone sting more than our words.
Sometimes, unconsciously we may come across as overbearing, aggresive, or forceful, even though we do mean well.
Words can feel like swords.
Tone and individual words can be triggers of conflict.
Right argument … right attitude.
Wholesome humor may be helpful to relieve tense/awkward family moments.
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)
Taking a break to reflect, also helps to clear our thoughts.
Sometimes, we do mean well, … our intentions are good,
when we keep harping on a certain course of action,
the conversation strays, or falls on deaf ears.
As our family member hears our constantly repeating message,
… our well meaning intention is sadly lost in our repeated words/actions,
and a mis-understanding brews.
Don’t forget to say the ‘why’ (our reason, intention, concern, etc)
when saying the ‘what’. (their action, way, etc)
articulate the benefits of such a course of action,
‘what is it in for them‘ …. rather than ‘me’
On another note … for older children and folks,
tell them ‘what‘,
leave room for their ingenuity, energy and creativity
in the ‘how to do‘.
Try a respectful consultative approach of exploring possible alternative ‘win-win’ solutions with our family members. Gently lead, facilitate to a solution.
Jointly owned decisions are usually more effective,
than unilateral directive ones.
The goal is to practically solve problems, … not winning opinions.
By the same token, its not possible for us to accurately read other folks intentions based on an action. No one can read another’s mind.
Hence, ‘judge actions, … not intentions‘.
Managing expectations (spoken or unspoken) in a positive and affirming way,
accepting one another’s limitations/weaknesses, assist one another to improve,
and encouraging one another’s strengths
… helps build positive relationships.
(eg. each child is unique, .. gifts & talents differ)
Be patient and bear with one another’s weaknesses.
Like in Noah’s ark, the elephant has to carefully watch its steps,
so that its does not crush the tiny rat (ouch!).
guilt, or shame. or fear, or extended periods of silence, cold shoulder, …
are subtlely imposed and applied upon others,
hoping such tactics could change them.
However, this may cause further distress,
…. and worse, resentment,
loss of communication.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous,
it does not brag, and it is not proud.
5 Love is not rude, it is not selfish,
and it cannot be made angry easily.
Love does not remember wrongs done against it.
6 Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth.
7 Love never gives up on people.
It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ERV)
read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 again,
this time slowly.
Now read again … replacing the word “love” with our name.
Build bridges … not walls.
44 “But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,45 so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven;
Matthew 5:44,45 (AMP)
Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21 (NIV)
Sometimes, misunderstandings or disagreements are caused by expectations (spoken or unspoken) placed on us, or we place on others.
Expectations formed from one’s own upbringing, values, culture, duties, obligations, outward demonstrations of respect, expectations etc.
Also, … if some members of our family are not believers or from other cultures,
its best we try not place our values or standards on others.
5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
6 Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Colossians 4:5,6 (NIV)
Balancing the aspirations between parents and their children through respectful dialogue can sometimes be challenging and delicate (such as – career, course of study, potential spouse choices)
Sometimes, minor details/actions agitate into major disagreements.
Perhaps, now and then, …. its good to pause and ask ourselves honestly, objectively:
What is the value of the loss to me?
Why am I so upset about this?
Why do I have to win?
A person’s wisdom makes him slow to anger,
and it is his glory to overlook an offense
Proverbs 19:11 (NET)
It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.
Proverbs 20:3 (NIV)
An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city.
Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.
Proverbs 18:19 (NLT)
Avoid taking things personally.
Separate the issue … from the person.
Listen carefully to the other person,
eg. a suggestion … is not a demand, or an attack.
listen for what’s not being said,
Test our assumptions, presumptions, .. intuition,
rather than jump to conclusions.
Shifting our need to be understood, .. to get our point across,
to trying to understand the other person/s.
Listen carefully … to understand the other person,
their needs, aspirations, desires, interests,
sometimes in our rush,
with our own needs, etc … (goals?)
we lose sight … that others also have needs too.
and by taking time … to understand the other person better,
hopefully, it helps us to communicate better, .. addressing their concerns, anxieties, their “ but “,
be better understood … in grace and love,
practical win-win compromises can be agreed upon.
Sometimes, it may be the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’,
after a series of unresolved conflicts.
Hence, its helpful to settle matters quickly,
… and not let things fester.
Nagging … falling on deaf ears?
Try different strokes … for different folks.
As our children grow up, our communication style and tone have to respectfully adjust.
In the same way, no adult likes to be spoken at … or treated like a child or robot.
Respectful dialogue helps build trust.
In disagreements, conflicts,
forgiveness and ‘I am sorry‘ … are first steps.
It takes humility to be the first to say, ‘I am sorry, please forgive me ‘.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:23,24 (NIV)
As we pray to follow Him, the Holy Spirit fills us with His love,
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5 (NIV)
Forgiveness, laying aside the past unfortunate events … start a clean slate … move on … with the Lord’s love and grace.
Forgiveness and hope overcomes a ‘blame‘ attitude,
The past is forgiven. Let it go.
Live in the present, .. take charge, .. build towards the future.
Not dwelling anymore on ‘what it was‘,
… rather, build upon ‘what it can become’
Moving away from yesterday’s disappointment … to inspiring hope for tomorrow.
Filling ourselves with fresh new refreshing memories,
Biblical forgiveness is unconditional,
i.e. it does not wait until the other person changes, .. before we forgive them.
Matthew 18:21,22 (NIV)
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
(see also parable of the unmerciful servant, Matthew 18:23-35)
Go directly to the person with the issue to reconcile,… gossip doesn’t help.
Begin by describing factually what happened (with minimal emotions) in a chronological order from our perspective. An objective evidence-based approach.
Then, concisely explain how the events or action affects us, or our situation from our point of view.
Listen attentively to the other person’s point of view, and their reasons.
Agree mutually on a way forward.
If required, define respectful and clear boundaries.
Sometimes, its best to agree to disagree.
However, disagree does not mean being/behaving disagreeable.
Rebuilding trust does takes time.
Be patient, as the Lord has been patient with us.
19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:
You must all be quick to listen,
slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
James 1:19, 20 (NLT)
quick to listen — pause … take time to understand their point of view,
“Listening can bring about such powerful healing,
it is one of the most beautiful gifts
that people can give and receive”
— Carl Faber
Attentive listening demonstrates respect, empathy, trust.
“Listening for what’s being said and for what NOT said,
listening for the silences, the cracks between the words,
the hesitations, the contradictions, the glorious expositions”
— Susan Stamberg
Listening helps others return the favor,
when its our turn to speak.
slow to speak — slow to react, … avoid dismissing the other person’s points prematurely, or … shutting down a discussion early.
Keep calm, be patient.
Let go … of controlling the conversation, or changing the topic.
We don’t have to react to everything that happens or mentioned,
we’ll be distracted from our path, or real and important issues.
Let it be like water off a duck’s back.
Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger,
And it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment].
Proverbs 19:11 (AMP)
to be proven absolutely right,
being right with one another?
Winning is not everything,
… if it costs a relationship.
slow to get angry — slow to act, … patience, calm, cool … don’t overreact, … avoid an emotional response, … or raising one’s voice … or being overly sensitive/defensive.
Work it out, … not walk out.
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
But the slow to anger calms a dispute.
but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
Proverbs 15:18 (NASB, NIV)
Assertive, … not aggresive.
20 Human anger does not produce
the righteousness God desires.
James 1:20 (NIV)
Summarising this verse,
… reason as a reasonable, respectful person would.
An attitude of … thinking clearly, objectively, … not emotionally.
Being open to learn, … adapt, … change.
Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
A quick word on anger —
A quick-tempered man acts foolishly …
The hotheaded do things they’ll later regret …
Proverbs 14:17 (NASB, MSG)
26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”
Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,
27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
Ephesians 4:26,27 (NLT)
In the Bible (NASB version),
there are 14 instances of the phrase slow to anger appears.
9 of these describe the Lord God 🙂 . eg.
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.
Psalm 86:15 (NIV)
There is no fear in love … (1 John 4:18 NIV)
Are we loved, respected
… or feared?
Respectful dialogue and discussion also helps us grow,
as it assists us to have our views or assumptions challenged
… and learn ‘new tricks‘, whatever our age.
Fools think their own way is right,
but the wise listen to others.
Proverbs 12:15 (NLT)
We also learn to have respectful, objective, enriching, edifying conversations,
and, .. improve our listening, empathy, negotiation and compromise skills,
which are useful in resolving misunderstandings in the marketplace, church, etc.
Hence, learning to be firm and respectful in resolving conflicts at home help us prepare ourselves and our children with life skills for the tough world out there.
Conflict is healthy when others can openly air their disagreements, … rather than bottled up inside them, … and at the end of the day, we understand and respect one another better.
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye,
but pay no attention to the log in your own eye?
Matthew 7:3 (Mounce)
As much as we desire to correct others in their views or behaviors,
are we open for others to correct us ?
If you listen to constructive criticism,
you will be at home among the wise.
Proverbs 15:31 (NLT)
Invest time to listen attentively with an open mind.
Let people finish speaking before you try to answer them.
That way you will not embarrass yourself and look foolish.
Proverbs 18:13 (ERV)
Any story sounds true
until someone tells the other side
and sets the record straight
Proverbs 18:17 (TLB)
We all have blindspots.
Its possible our opinions or thoughts are incorrect.
Also, listen to what ‘s not being said.
Ask open questions to patiently draw out what’s not being said,
clarify, … verify
(to help younger children express — draw pictures)
Find common ground … win-win compromises,
… go slow … to go fast …
Engaging dialogues — be interested in others, their thoughts, desires, hopes, dreams, etc.
Be curious … ask how do others feel.
Build bridges … not walls.
Monopolizing monologues are boring, … at worse, overbearing, condescending … at worst, narcissistic,
… and, after a while the audience disengages and stops listening.
If one feels ignored, … and desires to be listened to
… perhaps we can begin,
by being a good listener.
A man who has friends
must himself be friendly …
Matthew 18:24 (NKJV)
What does the science show?
Here’s what a 75-year Harvard study of 724 men found about relationships and quality of life
conclusion – good relationships keep us happier and healthier
“There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account.
There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.
Develop an environment of mutual trust, support and love,
so that family members can honestly open up … or cry for help.
Extended hands to help, … a shoulder to cry on,
… an understanding, listening ear,
“we love you, .. and have your best interest at heart too”
Its helpful to have opportunities for family members to sincerely get things off their chest in open, frank and supportive dialogue and reconciliation.
It takes time, patience and an understanding heart to draw out what’s upon other’s hearts, their insecurities … and support them through.
Trust is earned.
Its sad, .. if family members turn elsewhere for consolation, comfort, an understanding ear,
… ‘family last to know‘.
1 Peter 4:8 (ERV)
Most important of all,
love each other deeply,
because love makes you willing to forgive many sins.
Sometimes, … our pride or stubbornness gets in the way 😦
of reconciliation and healing.
Sadly, … sometimes we do meet folks who are contentious, divisive, gossipy, manipulative, deceptive, domineering, condescending, proud, selfish, argumentative, confrontational, aggressive, narcissistic.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy;
without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)
Whatever the situation,
add a good dose of quiet, patient prayer for the Lord to work upon our hearts,
to intervene on our behalf,
and His Word, grace and wisdom to face the situations in a loving way.
Keep our eyes on the Lord.
He is in control,
He is still at work in our hearts .. and others as well.
When someone gives you a hard time,
respond with the energies of prayer for that person.
Luke 6:28 (MSG)
A humble serving heart helps.
Thinking and acting ‘how can I serve others‘, ‘ how can I bless others‘ in the family.
Simple practical consideration for others who share the home helps. Giving a hand in household chores or cleaning, … complement other’s strengths, … encourage/support another, … acknowledging other’s contributions, … going the extra mile with a smile.
1 Peter 3:8 (MSG)
Peter’s advice to couples:
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
1 Peter 3:1,2, 7 (NIV)
Here’s a wonderful testimony of how a husband found Jesus, and his wife was won over without words
Former US House of Representative & Ambassador Tony Hall
Direct your children onto the right path,
and when they are older, they will not leave it.
Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)
Within the family, it’s true there are times we also need to admonish.
… Live in peace with one another. 14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.
1 Thessalonians 5:13-15 (NASB)
Similarly, there are times our Heavenly Father admonishes us,
God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines
Hebrews 12:10, 6 (NIV)
Tough, firm love.
A wise friend once said, “when we see children having problems, have a look at the parents“. Sometimes, …. children having or causing problems may be symptoms of something arising from their parents’ relationships, or behavior, or attitudes.
Its easier for children to respect their parents,
… when they see dad and mom respecting one another in their daily lives.
Sometimes, at the heart of behavioral issues is simply a question of respect.
Paul’s advice on inter-generational respect when communicating,
Don’t be harsh or impatient with an older man.
Talk to him as you would your own father,
and to the younger men as your brothers.
Reverently honor an older woman as you would your mother,
and the younger women as sisters.
1 Timothy 5:1,2 (MSG)
Humility is the key …
… All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another …
1 Peter 5:5 (NIV)
For older folks with younger folks:
… share/speak as a peer
… reduce the use of an advisory tone or framework
… listen attentively, … ask questions, clarify, … try to understand things from the other person’s perspective, …
… be open to new thoughts/ideas
… be interested in their lives, be encouraging of their activities, interests, aspirations, etc.
… gently help (if required) … lead them to discover answers, rather than tell them.
… share relevant stories, experiences.
With older folks, … be credible, consistent,
1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young.
Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
Here’s a letter from a son to his father, expressing his desire to pursue his own course for the future,
Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ
God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:22 (NIV)
When someone gives you a hard time,
respond with the energies of prayer for that person.
Luke 6:28 (MSG)
Pray for ourselves and the other person.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV)
First, …. examine ourselves, our attitude, behavior, … are we a possible cause?
Then, re-examine the situation again.
Finally, approach the other person (if required).
In Jesus example, after removing our plank,
we’ll see clearly that its may just be a tiny speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye.
Jesus wisely added,
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.
If you do, they may trample them under their feet,
and turn and tear you to pieces.
Matthew 7:6 (NIV)
The reality is … some folks are not ready to listen, or do not appreciate help, or not ready to appreciate our advice. Best to wisely hold our thoughts for the moment, … pray and patiently wait to give the right word at the right time … when the heart is ready.
19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.
1 Timothy 5:19,20 (NIV)
God’s word balances mercy and truth.
Truth – It is ok to confront, reprove and warn someone in love.
Mercy – two or three witnesses, i.e don’t straightaway jump to conclusions,
… pause … wait, verify, take an objective evidence-based approach.
Therefore, let us,
Live in peace with one another
… be patient with everyone.
… always seek after that which is good for one another
and for all people.
1 Thessalonians 5:13-15 (NASB excerpt)
The heart of the Christian faith is forgiveness & reconciliation with God & others.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God
Matthew 5:9 (NKJV)
Let’s be thankful for our families 🙂 .
Thank you Lord.
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
August 5, 2015
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License