Toxic Relatives

Before you dismiss this article by observing the title, allow me an introductory paragraph to persuade you to continue reading. Is blood thicker than water? What exactly in the world does that mean anyway?! I know that I've been cleansed by The Blood of Jesus of my sins and through Christ I have been given access to the well of living water that leads to abundant and eternal life. It is an absolute fact that no relative of mine has done for me what Christ did. I realize the sensitivity of this topic; however, I promise you that if you will give me your attention for the remainder of this article, I will show you several places in God’s word where individuals were either blessed or cursed because of associations with relatives. My friends this walk is an individual decision, and your associations—blood relatives or friends, can seriously affect the outcome of your results.

Abraham Commanded to Leave Relatives

Abraham is called the father of our faith. And what was the first decision he had to make? What was the initial test of his faith or belief in God as the true and living God? Read it for yourself.
“Now [in Haran] the Lord said to Abram, Go for yourself [for your own advantage] away from your country, from your relatives and your father's house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others].

Genesis 12:1-2 AMP
It says for your own advantage. What I am trying to get you to do here is to think. Think about God who is intentional about everything He does. If Abram had been hung up on the whole blood is thicker than water philosophy, he would not be the father of our faith. Abram’s relatives were pagan polytheistic people. They believed in multiple gods—that was the life he was accustomed to. Would you do what he did? Leave your family and everything you've ever known to follow a God you've never known? Let’s fast forward and see what Jesus said about such a situation.
Peter said to him, "We have left everything to follow you!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
John 10:28-31NIV
So we see here that it is neither unbiblical nor uncommon for those of us who choose to walk with Christ to literally be forced to choose between our relatives and God. But, God is so wonderful. He’s never trying to take something from us; He’s always trying to get The Blessing to us! If you focus on the latter half of both passages, you find the promise attached to the act of obedience—Blessing. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying all family relationships are toxic or ones we need to limit our exposure to. It’s the ones that pose a threat to our full participation in our walk with Christ. God is a jealous God—He wants all of you. Then He blesses you and gives you all of Himself (see Luke 12:32).

You see God chose Abram because He knew him. God knew that Abram would command his children after him and teach them to serve the Lord (Genesis 18:19). This is ultimately what the Lord wants. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He wants the generations. And most of us know from experience that in most cases, we have to start where Abraham started—it’s not easy! Especially when you come from one of two extremes—either no church at all or you grew up in church.

On the one hand, turning from a pagan or heathen background to Christ brings instant ridicule and, in some cases, the person is ostracized. Or, a case such as mine own. I grew up around the things of God, but there wasn't a true example of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 set before me. No one was fully obeying, so the results were tainted. As I came into more knowledge and choose to walk in it, however, the negative treatment by unenlightened relatives was similar to a person who’d come from a non-Christian background. It’s quite painful. It is a blessing blocker.

Have you been struggling with some decisions concerning this issue? If not, perhaps you know someone who is. I want to conclude with some references to assure you that you that you are in good company. If you make the right decisions, you will walk straight into The Blessing of the Lord. And the wonderful part about it is that your relatives can make the same choice you did! You want them to. Just don’t let their hesitation stifle you. I don’t have space to expand on every reference, but as I stated at the start of this series, I want you to dig into the Word for yourself. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you about your individual situation and stop these blessing blockers in their tracks!

Biblical Relative Examples

Abraham chose to take Lot with him and this caused him grief on more than one occasion (Genesis 13, 14). I know Jacob sowed some bad seed, but his own uncle attempted to stamp out God’s blessing that was obviously on him (Genesis 29-31). Ruth ended up in the bloodline of Christ because she left her family (Ruth). Eli failed to properly handle his two sons who were abusing the priesthood and died in sorrow (1 Samuel 2, 4). Jonathan chose to side with his father, whom the spirit of God had departed from, instead of his spiritual brother David—he paid with his life (1 Samuel 18-23; 2 Samuel 1). Esther obeyed her uncle and not only became a queen, but saved her people (Esther). Also the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and so on were all considered brothers of Israel, yet they were chosen by God to prophesy the truth even though most of it was against their own brothers. These are all Old Testament examples, but Paul taught a great deal on handling these types of relationships as well.

As always Christ is our ultimate example. His relatives thought he had gone out of His mind and went to collect Him (Mark 3:21). I love how Jesus responded in Matthew 12:48-50. “But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? And who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” He answered just like an insane person would. Who is my mother and bothers?! Then He came with absolute sane revelation! I’m His brother because I do the will of the Father even at the risk of looking like I'veRel lost my mind and I’m being alienated by relatives.

So speak the truth in love and be respectful to your elders. But DO NOT allow relatives to block the Blessing of God in your life. The Holy Spirit will give you the answer to each situation. Study these examples and stand on the promises of God’s Word concerning salvation for the lost. He wants them to be saved, but they have to receive salvation—you can’t save them only God can. I can testify to the truth of Mark 10:29 in my own life. I have been blessed with everything I lacked in my natural family in the family of God. With His help I have been able to create a blessed home and family so that my seed can see accurate results of fully obeying the commands of God. When a relative comes to God we rejoice, but we've chosen not to allow the ones who operate in disobedience to block the Blessing in our lives.

—Shon Stevens is a writer and professional fitness instructor. Shon lives in Texas with her husband and two children.
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