Families will fight about anything. A recent survey at our church revealed the top 5 causes of family fights: money (#1), responsibilities, where & what to eat, kids, and not sharing. We often fight the most with the ones we love the most.
Why is that? I think it’s sometimes just irritation. We get on each other’s nerves. But James 4:1-3 tells us that we fight because of selfishness. We all want our own way and are willing to fight for what we want.
In Ephesians 4:25-32, Paul was trying to help a church quit fighting so much. So he encouraged them to stop doing 5 things that were causing them to fight. I think we can learn some of these lessons in our own disagreements at home.
1- Lying (Ephesians 4:25)
Sometimes we think by telling a lie we are making the situation better. But that is never the case. Rather than lie, we should tell the truth. Paul says the reason we should tell the truth is because we belong to each other. The truth may hurt, but the truth is the only way to healing and health. A family cannot walk together unless they do so on the basis of honesty, openness and truth. Admit the truth to God, your parents, your spouse, and your children.
2 – Anger (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Anger itself is not sin. Even God gets angry. But anger is often handled wrong in one of two ways: Blow up or clam up. Losing one’s temper is sin. People think they need to get it out of their system. But this is only for the concerns of the giver, not the receiver, of anger. Others deal with anger by clamming up. I love what Paul earlier tells us, “Speak the truth in love” (4:15).
However, since love covers a multitude of sin, you should not bring up every little thing that upsets you. Otherwise home would be a terrible place. But if you cannot go to sleep without it bothering you, then you need to talk about it. Don’t go to bed angry. Decide to discuss it and then deal with it.
3 – Stealing (Ephesians 4:28)
“Thou shalt not steal” is one of the 10 Commandments. Stealing is selfishly taking from someone else. If we steal, we hurt others. Rather than steal from others, we should work so we can give to others.
How can we steal from our family? We can steal time, attention, finances, energy, affection, communication and love from our family members. Rather than givers, we become takers. We should use our time, energy, and creativity to give the best of who we are to our families.
4 – Corrupt speech (Ephesians 4:29)
Our mouth can build up or tear down. We can encourage each other or we can criticize each other. Whether it is foul language, or abusive language, it is hard to change a habit. However, Jesus tells us that our mouth and heart are connected. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). So you change the mouth by changing the heart. The secret is making sure your heart is full of blessing. Fill your heart with the love of Christ so that good things that build people up automatically come out. Speak in such a way that what you say will build up others.
5 – Bitterness (Ephesians 4:30-32)
These verses list several sins that deal with a bad attitude. Don’t let bitterness and hatred overcome you. The basic cause of a bitter attitude is that we don’t forgive others. An unforgiving, bitter spirit hurts us and destroys all our relationships (Hebrews 12:15). Bitterness causes us to treat others the way Satan treats them. But we should treat them the way God has treated us.
As you think about your own ‘Family Feud’ I recommend doing two things:
- Forgiveness – either you need to be forgiven or you need to forgive. Some of you have remarkable memories. You remember hurts from decades ago. In the words of Elsa of Frozen, Let it Go! Forgiveness is as much for you as it is for the other person. When you hold a grudge, it robs you of joy.
- Pray – Nothing forces a family to come together again after there has been a disagreement like prayer can! My grandparents had a plaque in their dining room that simply said, “The Family that prays together, stays together.” It’s impossible to be angry with someone you are praying for. Invite the Prince of Peace (Jesus) to be part of making peace in your marriage and your family.
A family was on vacation. They rented a beach house. One afternoon, as the father was looking out his kitchen window onto the beach he watched as his daughter and son were yelling at each other quite intensely. Intending to do something about it, the dad went to sliding glass door and yelled at both of his kids to stop fighting. His little girl said, “it’s ok dad, we’re just playing house!” Don’t be this family.