There’s no such thing as a perfect family, because there is no such thing as a perfect human. Every person in your family, whether saved or not, is still a cursed human being and struggles endlessly with sin. That is the reason you have tension in your home. Now, if this is true, than you cannot adequately resolve the tension in your family. We’re going to be sinners until we die, so there will be everyday tension in your home until the end.
You are not powerless.
You can’t completely stop the tension in your home, because you can’t break into the hearts of your family members and change them. But you can respond in a wide variety of ways, all of which can make a difference in the problem at hand. You can respond in anger, chose to stay silent, gently intervene into the dispute, change the subject, or remove yourself completely from the area.
Yeah, that’s a lot of choices. There are countless ways to respond to an argument. But as a child, teenager, or young adult navigating a relationship with Christ and juggling family politics, finding the right answer can be pretty tricky. Here are some things to consider during that crucial moment when tempers are flared, feathers are ruffled, or spirits are sinking.
Your words matter.
Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Responding with the “gentle answer” is harder than it sounds. When someone walks into the room and says something rude, thoughtless, offensive, or insensitive, it’s easy to use a strict tone with them. It brings attention to their mistake and your disapproval of it. But it’s not the biblical way to respond, and it will often lead to an argument.
In order to provide the “gentle answer,” you must be able to humble yourself towards the other person, and demonstrate love to them in that moment. Not only can this relieve a conflict before it begins, but it can reverse bitterness that the other person feels. People who are striving to love and serve God struggle with pride and impatience, but God can use the “gentle answer” as a loving reminder to them, and can enable them to in turn, humble themselves, recover their patience, and serve the family with the right heart.
Your attitude matters.
Let’s face it: humility is hard. With all this talk of “self-esteem” and “self-worth” surrounding us, we have to keep in mind what the bible says about being humble towards everyone around us. It is only in humility that we will be able to provide the “gentle answer” during an altercation. The bible speaks very highly of the value of humility, especially in the book of proverbs.
Proverbs 11:2 (NIV) “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
This verse promises that living in a state of humility will bring you wisdom. And what more could you ask for in a crisis situation than God’s wisdom? The tricky part is the “constant state” of humility: its hard enough to be humble for a few moments at a time, but if you want your attitude to be effective in your family, you have to be humble at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, during chores, on the way to school, when you are desperately trying to do three things at once, when you get home from a long day at work, and when you are cooking dinner for an ungrateful sibling.
There is only one way that you can be humble, gentle, and kind to your family members when you are surrounded by stress, chaos, and sin at all hours of the day.
Your relationship matters.
Having a strong, personal relationship with Christ through an active prayer life and constant bible reading will strengthen your in many areas of your life. Having a functioning relationship with Christ means that he is molding, growing, and changing your desires daily so that you become more like Him. You need to know God: His heart, His holiness, and His love, in order to change. If you aren’t reading your bible daily, responding to distress with prayer, and growing in your love for God, than your attitude towards your family will be prideful, and the words that come out of your mouth will be harsh and self-centered.
Your heart is like a cup. What you have put into it, is what will spill out when it is disturbed. Fill it with the world, and sin will poison your family’s relationships. Fill it with Christ, and Christ will fill your family with peace, respite, and encouragement.