Families…many mixed emotions can come to the surface when someone mentions that one word. Some families are healthy and strong, while others might just be a mess. Every family is different, though most usually have 1 or 2 where family members can only shake their heads…”oh crazy Aunt Sue…”.
As we look at the Christmas story, I’m sure Mary and Joseph’s families were thinking “Oh Mary has gone off the deep end…” or “Joseph, what is he thinking?!?”. We don’t know much about either of their families, but knowing about their culture can give us a lot of clues as to how they may have reacted. They were both Jewish, and Jews take pride in trying their best to not sin and follow the rules as was culturally acceptable. Mary and Joseph were engaged to be married, which meant their families had entered into a contract with each other than was similar to a covenant most couples make today with their vows.
Mary shows up after being gone for a few months to be with Elizabeth, and the baby bump is not easily hidden. Mary’s family may have been embarrassed; they may have been outraged. They may have wanted to disown her. However, we see that there’s no note about their reaction here in the Bible, which tells me if there was a reaction, it wasn’t one that made Mary lose her faith, and she must have had some community around her to support her.
Joseph’s family may have had the same reaction, though there might have been a lot more anger, knowing that the baby was not Joseph’s, and feeling betrayed. Yet, again, we don’t see a reaction recorded, which again tells me they supported Joseph, even if they may not have agreed with him.
The Bible speaks pretty clearly on how we are to treat our family:
“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. 3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – 1 Timothy 5:1-8
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Cor. 13:4-7
Today, first pray and ask God to be present in your time with Him. Then, pray for God to reveal to you how you can love your family over this Christmas season. Pray for forgiveness to come into your heart if needed. Pray for God to reveal to you how He might use you in your family. Praise Him for your family and the ways they may have blessed you over your life.
Have more time? Want to go deeper?
- Spend some time praying for your family members individually. What are their biggest struggles right now? How could God meet them this season?
- Pray for your extended family, including your spouse’s family. How might you serve them and love on them this season?