Relationships are not commodities. We do not ‘have’ them, we live in them. They are formed by what we believe deep in our hearts. Our need for relationship comes from being made in the image of God, and therefore we are accountable to Him. So, Paul instructs Timothy about how he should live, and what he should teach the church about living in a way which honoured God. Those who disobey God in how they relate with others, especially in their families, open themselves to Divine blame.
It is useless for a man or woman to profess to be related to Christ if they have no care for parents, brothers and sisters, children, uncles, aunts and cousins. He chose to set people in families so that they could learn to support and care for each other. Pretending to have no responsibility for our families is not just a social offence: disregarding our family offends God deeply. Such people are described as being worse than unbelievers! Most unbelievers instinctively feel that they should support the people in their family; so if believers ignore that instinct and God’s Word they must repent without delay.
Of course, it is not always easy. Caring for people with physical disabilities, mental impairment, unsuitable accommodation and inadequate finances is hard work. The physical and emotional strain can be great. Trying to help people who resist help, who argue or complain - is a struggle. That is why we need the grace of God. Without His help we are too weak for the task, and without His wisdom we often do not know what to do for the best. But with His help we can do everything He asks of us. If we are willing to be obedient, He will give us the resources; and when the time comes that He asks us to step back, He will make that clear. Until then let us serve with gladness.
© Dr Paul Adams