Let me tell you about a man with lots of flaws who managed to survive! This man lived his life deceiving others around him. He was always looking to get ahead, even if that meant that he had to trick others. One time, he tricked his brother into giving him all of his inheritance. Another time, he tricked his father into giving him what did not belong to him. This was also a man who was driven by fear and made some very bad choices along the way.
The Sin of A Father
Listen to the story of this man! You wouldn't think that this man had any hope, but in the end, God still used him! This man married the love of his life only after he had also married her sister. To make things worse, he had three other "baby-mamas" and had a total of 12 children between all 5 of his women. This was a very flawed father. His parenting style was all about who he liked more at the time and he treated his favorite children better than the rest. His children, not knowing how to deal with all the family flaws became just as flawed as their father was. Some of their issues included murder, incest, adultery and betrayal. What a dysfunctional family this was!
The Flaws of a Bible Hero
I am talking about Jacob, the biblical patriarch who would later in life wrestle with God and then have his name (and his Character) changed. Jacob became Israel after his encounter with God.
If we are honest, there is a bit of dysfunction in all of our families. We all have those relatives who are good people, but when certain individuals get together in the same place (usually at thanksgiving dinner) there is going to be a disagreement or even a fight over politics, religion or football. But what does it mean to be a dysfunctional family? Wikipedia puts it this way:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A dysfunctional family is a family in which conflict, misbehavior, and often child neglect or abuse on the part of individual parents occur continuously and regularly, leading other members to accommodate such actions. Children sometimes grow up in such families with the understanding that such an arrangement is normal. Dysfunctional families are primarily a result of two adults, one typically overtly abusive and the other codependent, and may also be affected by addictions, such as substance abuse (e.g., alcohol or drugs), or sometimes an untreated mental illness. Dysfunctional parents may emulate or over-correct from their own dysfunctional parents. In some cases, the dominant parent will abuse or neglect their children and the other parent will not object, misleading the child to assume blame.
Today, we call it a Dysfunctional Family but the bible just calls it sin. Every single family has flaws, little flaws and big ones too! But I am not trying to just point out the problem. How depressing that would be! Instead, I want to offer you two strategies or tools that everyone of us can use to survive these family flaws.
How Do You Survive Family Flaws?
I. WE CAN SURVIVE FAMILY FLAWS BY FAITH IN GOD’S LOVE FOR US!
I can say without hesitation that not one of us grew up in perfect homes. We are all just like Cain and Abel. Our folks had flaws. Our kids will grow up and look back on our flaws. But Abel overcame his family flaws. He was walking with God just like his parents had done before paradise lost. He was able to regain fellowship with God by faith!
I reiterate what the Bible says about Abel:
"It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith." Hebrews 11:4 (NLT)
Sibling Rivalry or Something Else?
So what happened with these brothers? Was it difficult for Cain to bring an animal sacrifice because it cost more?
We’re not told. The one thing we know for sure is that he didn’t have faith in God. He didn’t trust God. He didn’t realize how very much God loved him and wanted to be his friend.
If we will have faith that God has our best interest in mind, we will learn and observe his instructions. Then we will establish a relationship with Him by faith – by trusting in God. We don’t have to be victimized by our own flaws or those of our family. We can trust God and change the course of our family history!
Or, if we chose, we can be like Cain. We can be religious but aimless because our religion is not mixed with faith. Oh yes Cain was religious. He brought his offering to God – it just wasn’t an offering motivated by faith.
This attitude of Cain teaches us the second positive principle about surviving family flaws.
II. WE SURVIVE FAMILY FLAWS BY BECOMING MASTERS OF OUR WORLDVIEW.
A worldview is not only how you see things in the world around you, but your attitude about what you see. If I have a skewed view of the world like Cain I’m going to do something stupid, just like Cain did! If I have a bad attitude I’m going to do something selfish and I will end up hurting those who love me.
Remember what God said to Cain after having rejected his offering?
“You will be accepted IF you do what is right. But IF you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Genesis 4:7 (NLT)
What Does Charlie Brown Think?
Here is a classic Charlie brown moment to illustrate this:
Charlie Brown to Linus: “What would you do if you felt that nobody liked you?”
Linus: “Well Charlie Brown, I guess I would take a real hard look at myself, ask if I’m doing anything that turns people off; how can I improve myself; do I need to change in some way? Yep, that’s my answer Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown: “I hate that answer.”
Deep down we all have reservations about that answer. Our humanness is prone to be self-centered. We don’t want to master our selfish desires. We want to give in to them. But we know that when we do we often hurt those who love us.
Welcome to the Club
Have you hurt your loved ones?
Have you taken them for granted and been so self centered that you hurt them in ways that they did not deserve?
If you have, welcome to the club. This happens because we are flawed, all of us have done this. But it does not have to be that way any longer. I am sure everyone here has been hurt by some family flaw. But there is a way to survive these hurts. Jacob survived them. His son Joseph survived his family flaws and went on to become the second most powerful man on earth at the time. Joseph then became the liaison by which his family was saved in a time of famine. YOU CAN SURVIVE YOUR FAMILY FLAWS!
I will tell you a true story next week that is sure to touch home.
Until next week....