How Can You Love Hard-To-Love Family Members?

Not a week that goes by that I don’t remind my son to be kind to his sister and play with her. When he looks at her, he sees an annoying two-year-old girl who steals his toys and the-get-along-jar-to-stop-sibling-bickering-1-20150622125841.jpg-q75,dx720y432u1r1gg,c--ruins all his fun. For him, she is simply too hard to love. While few of us can relate to the irritation of dealing with a two-year-old sister, many of us can relate to the experience of living with a difficult family member.

In your life, do you have a family member who is just too hard to love? Someone who has torn you down with his words, or ignored you no matter how hard you’ve tried to connect with him? Maybe there’s someone who has brought hurt and pain to your family. Sometimes, you wish you were never related to this person in the first place.

In the Bible, we read countless stories of sibling rivalries and family disputes. I have often wondered how Joseph felt about his brothers the moment they plotted to kill him—but settled on selling him to a caravan of Egyptian traders instead (Gen. 37). Or how Tamar felt about her half-brother Amnon after he abused her (2 Sam. 13). Did they think, I can’t love this person?

While I don’t know how God chooses family, I do know that God cares about familiesimages (1) so much that he placed Jesus in a family while here on Earth. My hope is that my son will understand that his “hard-to-love” sister was chosen by God to be in his family. And I pray this truth arms him with the strength and motivation he needs to continually love and forgive her.

 If you are dealing with a hard-to-love family member today, meditate on these three verses:

  • Colossians 3:13 (CEV): Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you.
  • Ephesians 4:31-32 (GNTD):  Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.
  • Ephesians 4:2 (CEV): Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other.


    Nena Podbury is a project associate at American Bible Society. Originally from the Bronx, she has co-authored children’s curriculum and served in children’s ministry for 12 years doing Sidewalk Sunday School. Nena is married with two children, Noah and Emilia.

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