Skip to content

Top 10 Posts of the Year – #3: The Parent-Child Tension and Malachi 4

December 30, 2012

The last sentence in the Old Testament is remarkably relevant for today:

“And he (Jesus) will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Malachi 4:6

Three observations from this verse:

(1) Family tension is nothing new. Post-exhilic Israel struggled with it, pre-exhilic Israel struggled with it, and post-Messiah folk today struggle with it.

(2) The punishment for a lack of family unity is a strong one…perhaps as strong as anything we see in the entire Bible. Wow!

(3) The pull of family tension is so great that the only one who can fix it is Jesus.

Three thoughts based on these three observations:

(1) Just because family tension is nothing new does not mean it needs to be something we carry into the future. Now, in the season of perhaps the greatest family tension with holidays, is the time to turn your hearts to your parents and to your children. Mothers…don’t think you are exempt here. “Father” in the OT frequently referred to the operating unit of the family, not just the father.

(2) The punishment given here is because the heart issue at play is devastating. What are your motives for pulling away from your family? Notice how you answer this question. Listen carefully to yourself. Are you justifying and defending your actions? Or, do you implicate yourself knowing that you too are the worst of sinners? What may have pushed your children away? Again, listen to how you answer. Did they run away under their own volition with no cause? It’s unlikely. Or, were you a little too critical, angry, and uninterested? In a nutshell, the reasons families fall apart is selfishness. We pull and push away for any number of selfish motives. But, the tenor of God’s plan for humanity is to be a blessing to those around us (see God’s call to Abraham in Gen. 12). When families push and pull at each other and when hearts turn from one another…especially in families; the original design is further fractured and that makes God rightfully angry.

(3) You feel stuck. I get that. You haven’t been able to string together 3 peaceful conversations with your dad in years. Your baby who once needed you every minute of the day could now care less if they talk to you this month. Welcome to relationships in a broken world. You are not alone in your pain. You are also not alone in your access to a solution. Jesus, who turned his heart perfectly to his Father wants to help.

Three things we can do to repair family relationships:

(1) Pray. Yes, it sounds rote and perhaps the “spiritual” easy road for a blog article to suggest. But, I doubt many of us at all bring our relational struggles before the Lord on a regular basis. Prayer does at least two things: (1) It moves God to act. Yes…God hears the cries of his people. (2) It softens our hearts and makes us more likely to cooperate with what the Lord is doing in other’s lives.

(2) Re-evaluate. Are you the “worst of sinners” or a “pretty good person?” If you are a pretty good person you will constantly struggle in relationships because your problems will always be someone else’s fault. You are not a pretty good person. Get that notion out of your mind. You are the worst of sinners…so am I…so is your daughter, and son, and father, and mother. All of you are in need of grace; not one more than the other. When you see your child turning their heart from you don’t run and sulk or point the finger and blame. Go to them and ask what you have done, ask for forgiveness, and repent. And then a few months from now when your child does the same thing to you; look them in the eye and say, “This sin is the same thing I am capable of and so I understand. Let’s both ask the Lord to make us more into his image.” Don’t expect perfection from you, your children, or your parents. You all are the worst of sinners and you all are in need of grace.

(3) Talk. You will probably talk to your family more between November and January than at any other time during the year. Use your time wisely. Have the hard conversations you have put off for years. You will be glad you did. Confess sin, get angry and then forgive, and ask the Lord to pour grace on your family as you heal. Our heavenly Father who turns his heart to you, the worst of sinners, everyday longs to see you turn your heart to another sinner.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: