You may be spiritually hurting right now. You are seeing deeper into God’s plan and purpose and you love it, and you try to share it with your family and friends, and try as you might, you just can’t seem to win your family members over. It’s a struggle as they seem to thwart you at every turn. It’s bad enough that the world, in general, is resistant to the truth. But your own family, too?
Many of you are sparring with spirits in your own house. They withstand you and plague you with worldly thoughts, tempting you away from thoughts of Christ and His righteousness and ways.
“Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” (I Pet. 4:12-14) Rather, rejoice. You are “partakers of Christ’s sufferings.”
Our sufferings are His because we are His. He knows that we are going through anguish with the unbelievers in our family. That wayward son or daughter, that wife or husband who resents us when we speak of Him, that uncle or aunt, or cousin or friend—all these He has in our world for us to overcome. Don’t we know—we’ve all read it I am sure—that a “man’s foes shall be they of his own household”?
He is come to send a sword onto the earth, not peace. This war is raging in our own families. Christ is “come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother (Matt. 10: 34-36).
He Is Sending A Sword
Christ says that He sends a sword, which symbolizes war, conflict, confusion, desperation, fear, dread, frustration, tears (v. 34). And then the very next breath He sets a spiritual war in the hearts and minds of us and our family and loved ones. The fight and struggle that we must endure is on the battlefield of our homes. Period. In this battle, the sword He brings will slice away our selfishness.
The apostles warn us of the sword that Christ will send to us. First, we are not fighting or wrestling with the flesh and blood of our family members. We are battling spirits. We are pitted against powers that God has ordained for us to overcome—for our spiritual growth. God has created that family member or friend to come against you. Remember, His purpose is to reproduce Himself in us. He is Love. He loves your family member who is your enemy. And we should, too.
So He commands us to “love your enemies. Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Our enemies are not in Washington, D.C. or Moscow. Our enemies are those close to us dwelling in our house or close by. When their actions and words break your heart, this is the golden opportunity to forgive them. The struggle is not with them. It is in ourselves. Will we love and forgive them, thereby expressing agape love? Or will we remain the victim of a selfish hardness?
Someone is saying “How can I do this? How do I love my family member who has tried to shipwreck my faith so many times? How do I do it?
You ask Yahweh, the God that King David served. Study the story of how his son, Absalom, betrayed him in an attempt to steal the crown from David’s head. Study David’s response, and you will understand why he was so loved by Yahweh and why David was considered “a man after God’s own heart.” Read of David’s heartbreak and then his love for Yahweh expressed through his heart and lips (II Samuel 19).
The poet and prophet wrote of this trial in Psalm 41:9. Though heartbreaking for David, the betrayal of his son Absalom helped develop God’s Spirit in David’s heart. Your trials brought to you to overcome by your Father, will do the same, as we call on God with a humbled heart.
Knowledge is the first thing–knowing who the real enemy is. Then it is loving and forgiving them with Christ’s Spirit emanating out of your heart. This is part of fulfilling God’s purpose of reproducing Himself in us. Agape love is growing, and this gives us the victory.
Kenneth Wayne Hancock