Thoughts to Ponder:
“My husband’s family insists we spend every holiday with them, but I want to be with my family for some. What do we do?” was a question posed at a marriage workshop for young adults in Cambodia. I was on the workshop panel and this question spoke to my heart.
I hadn’t understood the full meaning of covenant relationships or God’s plan for marriage when I was first wed. No one told me. But perhaps, I thought, these young people could begin married life in a more God-honoring way than I had been able to do.
In Bible times, a covenant relationship between two men meant they were brothers. What one owned belonged to the other. They shared resources, took on one another’s debt, considered each other’s friends and enemies as their own, and valued the other’s family on an “I’ll die for them” level. It was as if they pledged, “Your family is my family and my family is your family.”
A shift took place when I understood this. It was no longer his family and my family. Both of our families became “our” family. I had always had great respect for my husband’s family and we gladly shared holidays with both families. But there was a new value and level of honor that rose up in me as well as a desire to love every family member to the best of my ability.
My answer to the young woman was something like, “I believe God’s plan is for married couples to stop thinking in terms of my family and your family. In marriage your family is his family and his family is your family. When you recognize this, together you figure out how to honor both families. It may mean your husband has to explain this to his family and you to yours. And once you have children, there may come a time when you ask them to respect your desire to build traditions with your immediate family unit once-in-awhile. Honor and respect for one another’s family will strengthen your marriage.”
I think this picture extends to our married siblings. My brother’s wife is my sister and my sister’s husband is my brother. My in-laws’ parents and siblings are my relatives, too, because marriage, a covenant relationship, ties us together. No, it’s not the same level of involvement, but my heart is for them and I value my sister and brother’s relationships with them.
God’s kingdom ways are beautiful and when we come into agreement with them, we are blessed—no matter where in the world we live! Let’s ask God if there’s any place our thinking needs to change regarding family relationships.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Then you will learn to know God’s will for you,
which is good and pleasing and perfect.
–Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Pray: Lord, thank you for continually inviting me to adjust my thinking so that my heart will be transformed to be more like Yours. Thank you for Your covenant design for marriage and (if you are married) for all the people I’m in relationship with as a result. I want to honor my spouse’s family and/or my siblings’ marriages and families. I want Your perspective and heart.
Show me if there is any shift I need to make in the way I think of extended family members.
(If repentance is needed, ask the Lord to forgive you.)
Lord, show me what it looks like to be in a God-honoring relationship with anyone You bring to mind. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who guides and strengthens me. (Pray a blessing over your family members.)