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But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers. 1 Timothy 5:8

Friday 30 September

In days before the welfare state, caring for relatives could be a massive responsibility. Paul was clear that this was fundamental to the Christian faith. It was usual in his society for families to care for one another, and so it was crucial that the Church didn’t lag behind in this. He could hardly have been stronger in his language: if anyone neglected their family responsibilities, they were worse than an unbeliever. It was unthinkable.

Caring for our families is very different today. The state provides a huge range of care, and pensions ensure that families are not alone in providing financial support for older people. But, even so, the responsibility that families bear is still very great and we should be grateful for the many charities that support us in this work. One of them is Care for the Family which offers a wide range of parenting, marriage and bereavement support. However strong our families may be, there are times when we need encouragement, guidance and support from others.

Eva Burrows, a former general in the Salvation Army, wrote: “In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds us closer together, and the music that brings harmony.” Great words, and I suspect that many of us can speak of the blessing that
our families have been to us. But that isn’t the whole story. We all know that families can, at times, be extremely hard work and create some of the most difficult tensions and challenges in life. That’s one of the reasons that churches need to be communities which actively support family life. We need to be honest with one another, joyfully celebrating the many times of joy and success but equally willing to share the times of brokenness and sadness.

For Paul, Christian faith was never simply a matter of believing the right things
and worshipping with fellow Christians. It was about living for God amidst the storms and challenges of everyday life, and caring for the family is where it all begins.

In what way has your Christian faith helped your understanding of family life?

Lord God, we thank you for the gift of families. Help us to love and support them through all the ups and downs of life. Amen


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