By Tyson Thorne

April 30, 2019

FamilyTies Large

I've had the question asked of me more then once, "is it okay to cut off a family member who keeps making bad choices?" Wherever there is relationship conflict may be found. So ordinary is this proverb that even Peter asked of our Lord, "how often do I need to forgive someone?" Jesus answered, depending on your translation, "seven times seven" or "seventy times seven" or even (seventy-seven" times (Matthew 18.21-22). Either way, the point is that you forgive them as many times as they ask for it. God does not give up on the repentant, and neither should we.

What if they don't ask for forgiveness? In the same chapter that Peter asks his question, Jesus addresses a question of church discipline that also applies to families. If you think someone has sinned against you, you go to them and try to work it out. If they remain unrepentant, take someone with you to corroborate the events. If the person remains stubborn you bring it before the church. Should the individual continue in their disobedience, they are to be treated as an unbeliever. In terms of a family, it is okay to cut this person loose in hopes they will recognize that those relationships are more important than their rebelliousness. Some never do.

There is another sticky passage about family in Jesus' teachings. In Luke 14:26 Jesus, speaking about the cost of discipleship, states, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother… cannot be my disciple”. What does Jesus mean? It seems a strong statement, and many have tried to make sense of it down through the centuries. Some have even gone as far as to teach that Jesus is removing our obligation to the fourth commandment, to honor one's father and mother (Exodus 20.12). Nothing could be further from the truth.

To understand Jesus’ words we need to look back at the start of God's nation, the people of Israel. In Deuteronomy 33 we find a review of the tribes of Israel. Of Levi it is written, "He said to his father and mother, “I have not seen him,” and he did not acknowledge his own brothers or know his own children, for they kept your word, and guarded your covenant." It brings to mind another incident when Jesus is told his mother and brothers have come to see him, and he replies by asking "who is my mother? And who is my brother? It is everyone who obeys the Word of God" (Matthew 12.46-50). How do we reconcile all this family drama?

Similar to what Jesus taught, Levi loved God's Word so much that, by comparison, he ignored his family. But did he ignore them completley? Of course he didn't, and neither are modern saints to do so. In the New Testament Paul teaches that those devoted to ministry are to have one wife that they love as Jesus love's the church, and their children are to have a right relationship with their parents, Like Jewish rabbis through the ages, Jesus knew the Torah sometimes taught lessons that appear to conflict unless there is a subordinate relationship. When our love for God is our highest concern, our love for others — including our ability to forgive them — falls into place.

Learn Biblical Hebrew Online


English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish



How to setup an RSS of Windows Reader Service