Love For Unfaithful Family Members?

Charles Pogue

If you are like many members of the Lord’s church today, you have family members who are not Christians. Some of them may be irreligious, others may be members of a denomination. What is also likely today is that you have family members who at some point in their lives obeyed the Gospel. Perhaps they were faithful for a time, but now, they are caught up in sin, or they are not as faithful as they ought to be. Maybe they have even abandoned the church completely. Consider, if you will, relatives in either the condition of unfaithfulness or apostasy.

Do you love them? “What a silly question to ask,” you would probably say. “Of Course, I love them. I go to see them all of the time. When they need help or comfort, I am right there for them.” When was the last time you pleaded with them to return to the fold of Christ? They are overtaken in a fault, have you attempted to restore them? (Gal. 6:1,2; Jam. 5:19,20). “I’ve tried, but they just want listen, so we just visit and talk about other things now,” you say.

If you are doing that, you are not only risking your own soul (1 Cor. 5; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 2John 9-11) but are also ignoring their welfare. One’s relationships with family members is undeniably different in some ways from that with those who are either friends or strangers who reject our admonitions, aren’t they? Shaking the dust off one’s feet is not so easy when it comes to a brother, sister, son, daughter, parent or some other close family member. The question is, when is it time to quit attempting to restore an erring relative? If you have considered that question closely, you may have arrived at the same answer I have. When is that time? I believe it is when they respond to you by saying, “stop badgering me about it, get away from me, out of my house, and I don’t want to see you anymore.”

I understand that answer is hard, but isn’t it really the truth that trying to restore that erring relative is something one can’t give up? If one says, “Yes, I can give that up and stop reminding them about it,” isn’t there something wrong with the love one has for that relative? Personally, though some may disagree, I believe there is. It is also the case that when it comes to fellowship, the time comes to discontinue it, and the Scripture makes no exception for blood relatives. There are family responsibilities such as honor your mother and father, and husbands love your wives. Admittedly it is hard to balance both, but we must not ignore one to satisfy the other.

The adage is true that it is sometimes harder to talk to those who are closest to us. It is also true that we may have a more difficult time trying to get a relative to listen to our words of exhortation. However, if we are going to be in their company, to be in accordance with what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, when we are with them, we need to be there to admonish them. That is the only way to show them the true love that we have for them. I just cannot see truly loving a relative who is unfaithful or has abandoned the church of our Lord, without saying something to them when we see them. It is not easy, is it?

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Author: bible

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