I do a fair bit of counseling as a pastor, though not as much as I would like. By that, I mean there are those who could use more counseling but refuse it. One thing that I have noticed over and over again is that the old addage, "Familiarity breeds contempt" is grievously correct. May God use this thought to banish this danger from our hearts.
In my office, I have heard people say things about their spouses and their children that it would shame them to say before a stranger. I have seen sons do things to parents that they would not dream of doing to someone unfamiliar. I think that this is diabolical, and I believe that this perversity affects us all, and as I outline what I've seen and heard; I hope that you will committ to stop doing this yourself.
I live everyday with my wife, thank God. The intimacy of our relationship means that she has shared things with me, and I with her, that no one else is ever privileged to know. This sweetness of sharing can be one of the most joyful things in life...or it can be a weapon used to absolutely destroy someone in a fit of anger. Have you ever said something so mean to your spouse that would shame you if a stranger heard it? Why do you treat your loved one so viciously? Why do we act as if we aren't accountable because we are so familiar?
Why is it that a child on drugs will steal from their parents? In my opinion, this is manifestly worse than stealing from a stranger. The reason that they steal from parents is because they are abusing the love that the parents have showered upon them from birth. They are too cowardly to steal from others, and so they take the easy money from mom's purse, knowing that her love will compel her not to press charges. Hearts are broken, and wicked crimes are perpetrated taking advantage of love for the doing of evil. How hideous this is and awful to behold! How many of you have seen children steal with abandon from parents, only to be bailed out again and again and again because of love and for hope that this time will truly be the last time? I grieve with those parents, I truly do.
But I find this same sin at work in my own heart in my own home towards my own wife and my own son. How carelessly I often treat those who are closest to me precisely because they are close! We know that we can get away with harsh words and sulkly silence and selfish neglect because they are family, when instead they ought to be treated with tenderness and affection and honor.
Think on it. If an aquaintance dropped by to say hello, good manners dictate that you should drop what you doing to greet and welcome them. How many fathers come home to plop down in front of a TV without a grunt of acknowledgement to wife or children? How many husbands come home to children who do not hug and wives who will not kiss in greeting? Our depravity is clearly seen, not just in how we treat strangers, but in what passes for love of those we should cherish.
So my encouragment for today is to wake up and love those precious people that God has placed in your lives to be the objects of your affection. Honor your spouse, respect your children, pay attention to them when they come home and hug them before they leave. These people are the grandest of all earthly gifts and treasures above all price; treat them as such. It is the least that we can do.
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