In Family Feuds: How to Respond, Timothy Lane deals with an issue that has plagued every family since Adam & Eve–interpersonal conflict within the family. His book is laid out into two sections. The first addresses the heart and applies the gospel to the issue of familial disappointment; the second section gives practical strategies for cultivating peace and reconciliation.
Matthew 19:26. All things are possible with God. God is able to reconcile the most hardened and estranged family members.
Luke 14:25-27; Matthew 10:37-39. With two ‘surprising’ passages, Lane develops the core message of resolving family feuds by re-orienting the priority that we place on family relationships. He writes, “We all grew up in families where parents and siblings sinned against us and disappointed us. When our need for their approval is more important to us than our love for God, it’s easy to hold grudges, get angry, and become bitter when we are mistreated. But when God is first in our hearts, we can put their failures and sins into the bigger context of our primary relationship with God. Then we won’t be eaten up by bitterness and disappointment” (p. 10). This is life-changing truth: By putting Christ first, and ceasing to demand that others (even family) make us happy, we are freed to love unconditionally!
Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 10:25-37. Jesus command us to love our enemies and our loved ones who have treated us like enemies.
Romans 5:5. The Holy Spirit pours the love of Christ into our hearts so that we are able to love.
Ephesians 4:1-3. Paul’s instruction to the Ephesians, unpacks the kind of love we are to have towards others. It is to be filled with kindness, patience, humility, and forbearance.
- Every family is flawed.
- Flawed families need God’s grace.
- Your family of origin does not determine your identity.
- God’s call to love includes your family.
- [You and all your feelings of hurt, anger, disappointment, et cetera can be] changed by the cross of Christ.
Practical Stategies for Change
- Respond with grace to your family.
- Take Responsibility for your sins, not your family’s– You cannot control, nor are you responsible for another’s actions or sins, but you can, by God’s grace control your attitude, actions, and words.
- Become an instrument of grace– This includes an excellent list of things you can do to facilitate change: (1) Pray for your family, (2) Open up lines of communications, (3) Ask for forgiveness, (4) Don’t take sides and be drawn into new family feuds, (5) Don’t take on the role of advising your parents how to parent your siblings, (6) Be creative in how you spend your time together.
- Make wise choices for your children.
- Persevere in love.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss