The Bible is full of all kinds of families. You’ve got Adam and Eve. Then there are the families of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon and Jesus – and a whole lot of others around and in between. There are so many different dynamics, from complex marital relationships to extreme sibling rivalry, difficult uncles, family favouritism, sacrificial love, wounds and promises that go down the generations. There are aspects of every family that need a bit more grace and a little more function to redeem areas where dysfunction prevails. As the saying goes, every family is normal until you get to know them.
Read Ephesians 5:21-25 and Ephesians 6:1-4. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important, significant or meaningful to you. What does this passage tell us about God? What does this passage tell us about people? How does this passage change how we live?
1. What do you think about the dysfunctionality of so many of the families mentioned in the Bible? Can you name some and discuss this?
2. Jesus taught and pointed to an ideal but He refused to condemn those who fell short (John 1:14). He extends grace for our reality. Do you tend to operate from a place of grace or a place of failure?
3. When the members of a family operate from a place of mutual submission, how would that impact the family? Discuss.
4. Read Philippians 2:5-8. Have you seen servant leadership operate or have you practised it in your work environment? Discuss.
5. When you see what God can do through normal people or people who have previously failed in the Bible, does that impact our potential under God?
St. Paul writes: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” The challenge with our families is to take this sense of servanthood and mutual submission and give it concrete expression. This week in your family context ask the question: What can I do to help?” Trigger opportunities to serve & collaborate together. Take the initiative in building relational bridges with people in your family.
A healthy family culture pivots on trust and confidence in each other. The alternative is suspicion of people’s actions and motives. It’s important to understand that trust – or suspicion – is always a choice. We choose to believe the best. We choose to assume there is a reasonable explanation behind someone’s actions. Or not.
Read Romans 12:9-16. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important, significant or meaningful to you. What does this passage tell us about God? What does this passage tell us about people? How does this passage change how we live?
1. If trust is a rare commodity in society, do you operate from a place of trust or from a place of cynicism or suspicion?
2. How hard is it in our work or family to operate from trust? Discuss.
3. Believe the best about others. Discuss.
4. Read Romans 12:9. Jesus loved us when we were not loveable. He asks us to genuinely love people. Is this possible?
5. We often treat the people we know least the best. How can we practice doing this with our family? Discuss.
6. God has treated you with deep compassion. Can you use this as a starting place for transforming the way we treat each other?
Discuss each of these opportunities we can take to “choose to trust” in our relationships:
- Treat the people closest to you like perfect strangers.
- Find the most charitable explanation.
- Think: “I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for why they did this.”
- Remember how you would prefer to be treated.
- Remember how God, through Christ, has treated you with deep compassion.
Which of these ideas or truths can you take into your week to help with family life? Explain why.