You Think Your Family is a Mess?!

You Think Your Family is a Mess?!
Written by: Larry Elliott

As we get deeper into Genesis it seems a few observations are in order:
  1. The first 11 chapters cover multiple thousands of years. Chapters 12-50, about 200 years of the story of Abraham’s family through whom “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
  2. Chapters 3-6 things get so bad, God starts over!
  3. Abraham’s family is dysfunctional to the max! A reality that should give us some hope for ours. 😉

The historical narrative that is Genesis is filled with profound theological import, but it reads like a bad soap opera! The characters are largely fearful, angry, jealous, manipulative, promiscuous liars, adulterers, and scoundrels. I am reminded of Mark Twain’s statement that, “No life is a total waste, if nothing else it can serve as a bad example.” To be fair, there is a redeeming character in chapters 39-50.

But into these broken, selfish lives God persists in his pursuit to one day redeem his creation and restore the beauty and relationships of the original Eden. As we work through Genesis (and indeed the whole Bible) we are surprised to see God sovereignly working in the midst of people’s sin, strivings, complaints, fears, anxieties, pride, schemes, lusts, and foolishness!

So, what might we learn from such relationally destructive scenarios? Why are these embarrassing stories included in God’s Word? What instructional purpose could they serve in our lives? “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.  Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” I Cor. 10:6,11

  • Haggar & Ishmael – Abram “assisting” God.
  • Lot – selfishness 
  • Sarai & Haggar – conflict
  • Ishmael & Isaac – conflict
  • Jacob & Esau – conflict
  • Jacob & Laban – conflict
  • Joseph & brothers - conflict

Families tend to pass on their conflicts from generation to generation, but it need not be so! Every generation has a choice to intercept the conflict and turn it another direction, a biblical direction. Scripture is replete with commands to end this foolishness and “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31,32

I recall telling my sons that there are 3 types of people in the world. Fools, who make the same mistakes repeatedly, smart people who make a mistake and then say, “I’m never doing that again!” and genuinely wise people, who watch others make mistakes, see the consequences, and say, “Whoa, I’m never going to do that!”

If your family is represented in these Genesis conflicts, perhaps God is calling you to break the generational foolishness. Peter would say to you, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” I Peter 3:9
Give it a try, you might be surprised at God’s grace and healing.  

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