One of the greatest commandments that, I believe, trips up Christians time and time again is the one in Exodus 20:12:
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
The real question begins when we reach the holiday season: how do we honor our parents and our families when they aren’t honoring us? What about the families that I never want to spend Christmas with because all they do is berate me and bully my own family?
This is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve had to wrestle through, especially these last few years. In 2018 I got married, which meant blending two completely different families together and praying that they would just get along for a day.
We can all imagine how the story normally goes: the mother-in-law’s bicker or hold grudges, the father-in-law’s get into arguments over petty things, the aunts and uncles feel left out so they lift their noses above everyone else, and the cousins get into trouble by either breaking a family heirloom or making so much noise you can’t even hear your own thoughts.
So what are we as Christians to do during the holidays if our parents or extended family aren’t exactly the most fun to be around?
If you have your Bible close, flip over to Romans chapter 12. This section of Scripture may or may not be familiar to you, but I just love what verses 17 and 18 say:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Jesus understands that we are never going to perfectly love everyone; we aren’t capable of it this side of heaven! So what does He call us to do instead?
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
He calls us to have pure and loving actions towards others, not try to control how they will react to what we are saying. Yes, be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone, but you know what? That’s not the same for everyone.
And I think that’s what makes it all the more hard to please everyone.
So that’s why He says if it is possible, as far as it depends on you.
I think this Christmas season, we all need to give ourselves a little grace. When we mess up, it’s okay. It’s not going to be the end of the world, even though it may seem like it.
Yes, there will certainly be days where all you want to do is run out the door on your family Christmas dinner and never come back. Trust me, I know how that feels.
I think what Jesus was trying to say here was this:
Respect your parents. Understand that you can’t always live just the way they want you to, but try to see where they’re come from. They may be psychopaths, nutcases, or just plain off their rockers. They may have opinions that literally don’t make any sense in your eyes. But know this: even when you don’t feel loved by them, that doesn’t mean you can’t try your hardest to help them feel like they are loved by you. You don’t have to be perfect at it. I know I came to the world to inspire you to follow me, and that will cause some strife at times. I will always love you, no matter how “unrighteous” you may believe yourself to be.
Your family may hate you. They may try everything they can to bring you down. They may even try to sabotage you.
Listen here: this week, thank God that He didn’t come to call the righteous. He wasn’t focused on those who thought themselves worthy enough to get into heaven just by their own good deeds and actions.
He didn’t come to call the righteous. He came to call you.