Q: Why can’t families get along? My five siblings and I got together for Christmas dinner this year, and all we did was argue. I’m afraid we hardly ever have contact. This concerns me, but I guess it’s just been easier to go our separate ways. — T.L.
A: What’s easiest isn’t always what’s best, of course, nor is it always God’s will (in fact, it usually isn’t). I’m thankful you’re concerned about the divisions in your family, and I want to assure you that God is even more concerned than you are. Conflicts like this are never his will.
Tragically, family conflicts have been with us almost since the beginning of the human race. The first children born to Adam and Eve were two brothers, Cain and Abel. You probably know the story: Cain grew increasingly jealous of Abel, and in a fit of anger killed him. God condemned his action, and the Bible says Cain spent the rest of his life as a fugitive from God’s presence. “You will be a restless wanderer on the earth,” God told him, emphasizing the seriousness of what he’d done (Genesis 4:12).
Why do families end up in conflict? There may be many reasons, often going back to childhood. But the ultimate reason, the Bible says, is sin — the spiritual poison that resides in every one of us. Selfishness, jealousy, envy, strife, the drive to control others — all these come from sin, and lead inevitably to conflict.
But God has another way: the way of love. And that becomes possible as we turn to Christ and seek his forgiveness and love. Ask God to help you see each member of your family the way he does, and then to help you love them and reach out to them. Even small steps can reap rich rewards.
Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or go to BillyGraham.org.