As I looked outside my window this morning I observed a family of turtles basking in the warm sun, cuddled together on a rock by the pond. It was the first time I had seen them this season and their presence brought to mind a few of my favorite Bible verses about family: mine and God’s alike. Those verses follow below, along with a couple thoughts of my own.
Joshua 24:15 – “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … but as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” What an incredibly relevant verse for today’s world. Joshua spoke those words after challenging the tribes of Israel to put away their false idols and return to the Lord, and serve Him alone. As I watch America embrace and serve countless idols, turning its back on God in the process, I am reminded of Joshua’s steadfast faith in the Lord. We, too, must remain faithful to God and not submit to the various forms of idolatry that the world offers us. At times you may find it difficult to resist the world’s temptations; in those moments seek the strength of the Lord and know that He gives you the power to overcome in times of trial and tribulation. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13 and 2 Timothy 1:7).
Luke 12:52 – “From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against – or two in favor and three against.” Jesus spoke these words to an innumerable crowd of people fascinated by His teachings and miracles. He wanted to make clear to them and His disciples the considerable cost they would incur for following Him as Lord – a topic He spoke about so frequently that He later encourages the multitudes to ‘count the cost’ before committing themselves to Him. The world hated Him and would hate His followers as well (see John 15:18-19). Consequently, His followers would experience contempt, persecution, rejection, discrimination, hostility, violence, imprisonment, and in some cases death. Sadly, some endure these actions from family, so entrenched is their hatred for Christ. I know firsthand how heartbreaking such a response is from family members. But we must not soften our faith or diminish our love for the Lord just to appease family. Instead pray earnestly for them as you stand steadfastly in faith.
Galatians 6:10 – “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to those in the family of faith.” One of the hallmarks of the Christian life is love for others, regardless of whether we like them or how well we know them. That love reflects our faith and draws a jaded and broken world to Christ. And it is expressed in action. Scripture tells us, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’ – but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” (James 2:14-16, NLT). Absent a generous outpouring of love, our faith fails. In fact, ‘faith without works is dead and useless” (James 2:17b, NLT). And the apostle John reminds us, “No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us” (1 John 4:12, NLT).
And our love towards others must be especially pronounced for those who share our faith. John provides clear guidance on this: “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:16-18, NLT). Cultivate a lifestyle of generosity and compassion for those in need, especially those of the household of faith. Then you will live out your faith fully.
Ephesians 2:19 – “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.” In the passage preceding this verse, the apostle Paul explains that Jesus has unified Gentiles and Jews into one family, the body of Christ. In Christ, there are no Asians, Africans, or Americans; only fellow believers and followers of the Lord.
Under the old covenant, Gentiles were on the outside looking in. But now, with Christ, we belong. We are citizens of God’s Kingdom and valued members of God’s family. That, my friends, is an uplifting truth that I pray gives your soul sustenance the rest of the week. Take time to reflect on it before you go to bed tonight and as you get up tomorrow morning – and rejoice in your membership in God’s family.