(Due to travel times, this weeks blog is posted 1 day early!)
This past weekend I had the joy and privilege of joining together with six of my siblings to celebrate our oldest biological sister’s 90th birthday. Due to circumstances within our family dynamics, five of the eight of us were adopted into different homes. By God’s grace and through faithful prayers we have been reunited for over fifty years. With one of our sisters with the Lord, we understand how important it is to spend the time we have together. Though not being raised together it is amazing how similar we are in attitudes and life perspectives.
I am so grateful for the value they have added to my life. Betty, the birthday gal, is not always in the best of health, but is always thankful. She is an amazing example of walking in the peace and blessing of God through troubles and trials. Her life has not been easy, but to watch and hear the accolades from her children, grandchildren and others you know she has lived her life well. She is an inspiration and a role model on how to walk through trials with joy.
Not all families get along like ours, I understand. Growing up and maturing in how to treat one another takes time, patience and maturity. Look at the struggles Jacob’s family had–sibling rivalry to the utmost! Selling one’s brother into slavery is definitely a sign of dysfunction. Parents, it is important to work with your children–teaching them how to get along and how to appreciate the differences in others. Jacob’s gift giving of the special coat of many colors did not help bring his sons together, but only further hurt their relationships. However, at the end of the day, Joseph got where he was supposed to be to help his family. The brothers admitted their wrong feelings and actions to Joseph and God used their situation to further His purpose. Do you ever ponder how their relationship changed after they moved to Egypt??
Those of you with smaller children or grandchildren please work with them to help them learn honor and respect for you as parents, for authority and for their siblings. Respect and esteem does not come easily in our culture. But we can help by modeling it to those in authority, to our political leaders as well as to our spouses, parents and children. As for you Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control , and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead they should teach others what is good. Titus 2:1-3 Titus goes on with further instructions for young women and young men. Take the time to read Titus 2 if you are not familiar with its content. Applying these words of life will bring peace and blessings to our soul. It is unfortunate that many people do not ever receive any type of honor or respect from their childhood onward. At times it is definitely not easy to give honor and respect to everyone, but God is able to help us learn to give honor and respect. We may disagree, but learning to do it with respect is key. That takes patience and a willingness to learn! Taking time to pause and really see the person you are interacting with is one of the keys He has taught me. It really helps. God’s family is so diverse. Many think differently, act differently and understand differently than we do. Let’s focus on our common ground and leave the judging difference to Him. Pray for them if you feel they are blinded to the truth you see so clearly. Release your faith that the God who revealed His truth to you, is able to reveal His truth to them as well.
Choosing respect and honor over disrespect and judgement tears down walls, and leads to peace. If there are sin differences at hand, then find the most respectful way of talking with the person. It will help open their ears and their hearts to new truth. I am glad I am part of the Swift family, but even happier I am part of the family of God!
Adding a “please” or “thank-you” to your interactions with your spouse, children or co-workers opens the door for respect. Guarding your tone of voice when making a request softens the heart of the listener, and may limit their triggers! These are all things that we can do. If you need to ask forgiveness or forgive your family members for neglecting to bring honor and respect, do it today. These seemingly inconsequential “niceties” strengthen relationships, soften hearts and open doors for God’s Spirit to move in ways only He can. Practicing kindness is always a good thing!