“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me;
and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
Christmas is a time of joy and celebration; it is a time of making special memories and spending time with loved ones. But we would all agree that the Christmas season tends to bring out the best as well as the worst in people. For most of us, Christmas is not, “Dashing through the snow On a one horse open sleigh, O’er the fields we go, Laughing all the way…” This is the time of year when family issues in particular, both good and bad, come to the forefront of our lives.
As Christians, how are we to deal with the issues with our family that will surely arise this holiday season? What is to be our response to our family during this time?
What you need to remember
This Christmas, you will probably hear from at least one of your loved ones that “Christmas is about family.” While this may be a special time of the year when families get together and celebrate, the truth is that Christmas is not about family. That may sound harsh and cold to some, but consider what the Apostle John said about this:
And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
1 John 5:20
Christmas is about the Incarnation (God in flesh) of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the reason for His coming in “the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Phil.2:7) was so that we might have fellowship with Him.
Keeping this wonderful truth in mind will help us as we seek to sort through all the various things that will come our way relating to family issues during the holidays.
Types of family members
To help get a handle on how to deal with family issues, it is necessary to distinguish the type of people who may make up your family. Knowing the type of person you are dealing with is very important so that you know what you need to try to do when you are around him or her.
- Saved and growing — sweet fellowship can happen as you consider together the true meaning of Christmas and reflect on how the life and death of Jesus has affected you.
- Saved and struggling — take the time to come alongside this person and offer Scripture-based encouragement. You may not normally see this family member except for the holidays, so take advantage of the opportunity to be a blessing to him. Placing resources in his hand that relate to his struggles will help him in a great way.
- Religious, but not regenerate — Many religious traditions are seen during this time of year that are not grounded in the Word of God. The approach is not to attack this family member’s religiosity, but to lovingly speak of Christ as He is offered in the gospel.
- Irreligious — With all that the world throws at us concerning Christmas, some in your family may not know what it is really all about. They may have ideas about baby Jesus lying in a manger and that is about it. Seek to share what the birth of Jesus means — and this will lead right into the gospel message.
- Open to the gospel — There may be those in your family who have heard the good news and are open to it. Use this time when you are around these family members to continue to plant or water that gospel seed. Do not shy away from presenting them the greatest gift they could ever be given.
- Not open to the gospel — You more than likely have people in your family who have heard the gospel from you or someone else and, at this point, they are not open to it. This does not mean that you must necessarily forsake being with them during the holidays. This is when you must actually be salt and light. Look for opportunities to plant a seed of gospel truth in this member’s mind and heart by word or example.
Be sure to invite your family to church during this season. They may be more likely to attend with you now than any other time of the year.
The Christian’s response
Christmas is not a time for the believer to compromise. It is a time to take advantage of the opportunity to stand for and testify of the Lord Jesus Christ. With family responsibilities, you must remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:37, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
Spiritually prepare yourself ahead of time for the fact that your love for Jesus will be tested during this season. Make daily devotions a priority so that you are well-nourished. Because you choose Christ and His will over your family, you will be accused of not loving or caring enough for your family. Your affection for Jesus must far exceed your love and affection for your family. The Lord will not take a back seat to your family. But be assured that Jesus loves your family more than you so you can trust His Word and His ways.
If you receive invitations to be a part of a family gathering on a Sunday, politely and firmly decline so you can be where God would have you be. This will allow you to put God first and be a good witness. When participating in a family get-together means violating your conscience, do not do it. Give yourself completely to the Lord this Christmas season.
Although our society has muddied the message of Christmas through consumerism, myths, and empty traditions, we should not let these distract us from appreciating the real meaning of Christmas. Let us take advantage of this opportunity to remember Him, worship Him and faithfully witness of Him. As we do this, it will be a wonderful testimony to our families.