August 15, 2016

How to Love Your Unbelieving Family Members

Written by Boyd Bailey

How to Love Your Unbelieving Family Members 8.15

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 15, 2016

For even his [Jesus’] own brothers did not believe in him. John 7:5   When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, He [Jesus] is out of his mind. Mark 3:21

Often unbelieving family members are suspicious about a relative “getting religion.” The polite skeptics whisper among themselves about a stage their friend is going through—a spiritual crisis—but they will eventually get over their religious crutch. In due time, cynics will encounter their own life challenges: a health issue, a job change, a prodigal child or a financial drought. They may seek you for answers, because they’ve watched the fruit of your faithfulness: wisdom, peace and joy. See lost family members as Jesus sees them: in bondage, deceived by Satan’s lies.

Jesus faced the very real challenge of critical, even caustic family members. He had no honor among His relatives (except his mom and dad) or from the community where He grew up—yet He still honored all of them. What the unbelieving family members did not give Him: respect, faith, hope, love, patience and forgiveness—He gave them. Jesus prescribed automatic refills of mercy. Jesus knew by fervent, patient prayer (His and other’s) and through the power of the Holy Spirit, some family members would one day be saved—like His brother James who later wrote:

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ” (James 2:1).

Unbelieving family members act like unbelieving family members. So, offer grace and truth to their pride and ignorance—pray they see Christ in your life and plead for your heavenly Father to draw them to Himself. You know better because you have tasted the gospel and digested it deep within your soul, but the lost do not know any better—they nibble on Christ’s crumbs—unable to savor spiritual realities. They may talk of religion with their lips, but their heart is far from faith in Jesus. But perpetual care is irresistible—as you show interest in their interests—love will win.

Better to keep your relationship with an unbelieving relative right—than to prove you’re right. God’s Spirit will prod and probe them out of their moral slumber and/or common sense coma. You plant the seeds of unselfish service and Biblical insights on an as needed basis (adults learn when they have a felt need to learn). Actively seek others to pray for the Spirit to germinate the gospel in your friend’s heart and trust the Lord to harvest their soul’s salvation. By faith and with great grace, pursue a relationship with an unbelieving relative—love never gives up!

“Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed” (Mark 5:19-20).



Heavenly Father, give me Your grace and gumption to pray for and serve family members who need to personally know You.


Whom do I need to initiate time with just to get to know them better?

Related Reading

Genesis 3:4; Psalm 69:8; Jeremiah 31:3; John 10:20; 2 Corinthians 4:4

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Better to keep your relationship with an unbelieving relative right—than to prove you’re right. #wisdomhunters #unbelievingfamilymembers

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  1. Susan L. Glover says:

    I needed this message for encouragemental to carry on with my niece. Sue

  2. Gwynne says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you for reaching out to us after reading “How to Love Your Unbelieving Family Members”.
    I think you may speak for others in the Wisdom Hunter’s family who also have unbelievers in their family who they are praying for (myself included). I, too, found insight and encouragement in Boyd’s devotional. There were some great reminders for us as we continue to pray for our loved ones.
    “But perpetual care is irresistible – as you show interest in their interests – love will win”.
    Amen and Amen!!
    Boyd went on to state: “Better to keep your relationship with an unbelieving relative right – than to prove you’re right. God’s Spirit will prod and probe them out of their moral slumber and/or common sense coma”. I don’t know about you, Susan, but I really needed to be reminded of this and just keep praying…..
    Thank you so much for your comments. We are grateful for you and look forward to hearing from you again. May God bless you as you continue your sweet, loving relationship with your niece. What a blessing you are to her!
    Believing and trusting~
    “O Lord, You are my God;
    I will exalt You and praise Your name,
    For You have done wonderful things,
    Things planned long ago in perfect faithfulness.”
    Isaiah 25:1

  3. Jess says:

    “Better to keep your relationship with an unbelieving relative right—than to prove you’re right.”

    I confess that this is very difficult for me to do. As a new believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ of the bible, it’s been quite the struggle to not only repent and unlearn my former wicked ways, but learn the truth of God’s Word. To be compassionate to unbelievers, remembering I once was lost in darkness and suppressed the Truth: YET love God so much that I guard my own mind from false doctrine (to guard against idolatry and worshiping a god that ISN’T the God revealed in the Bible) and therefore find myself wanting to shield myself from false gospels, teachers, and vain philosophies of unbelievers in somewhat of an incubation period…

    Even more so is the overwhelming anguish I experience as my mom is Catholic and my dad is LDS. We each believe in a DIFFERENT Jesus. That’s the problem, and is much harder than navigating conversations with my majority-atheist workplace. I’m 28 and still struggle with anger and sadness of just how much *I* was deceived, (and humbly admit I do not profess to know everything!) and now see how easy it was for my parents’ marriage to fail… Yet they both are still so deceived and who am I as their daughter to tell them that, without being accused of self-righteous pride?

    I recognize my desperate need of patience with those who profess Jesus, but according to scripture: are flat-out wrong. It’s not that I want to prove *I’m* right, but that Scripture is. I confess to stubbornly desiring to cling to correct doctrine, and therefore I withdraw from them because I easily get stressed and don’t want to argue with them. I confess to coveting the life of believers who have saved parents. While I don’t feel equipped or as well-versed in scripture to endure relationships with them right now as I myself am still learning, not to mention I’m physically so far away from them: how can I love them while also not compromising on the essentials of biblical doctrine?

    I feel such tension when I reach out over the phone to either of them (they’re married but separated due to adultery), and they start telling me about their good works, telling me how I should live life, she prays the rosary with her boyfriend, he baptizes dead relatives in the mormon temple/ward, and a myriad of unbiblical practices. I find myself shutting down and growing detached because I can’t take hearing that, and by NOT correcting them, feel like I’m affirming them. I love them, but just don’t like them. I’m saddened when my dad says it hurts him that I listen to pastors like John Piper, MacArthur, Paul Washer, and Voddie Baucham, because they’re the biblically-sound dad I wish he was. Yet…he continues to attend the morman temple rather than seek out the Truth for himself.

    Please help me pray not only for God’s grace to be bestowed on them to lift the veil of deception they’re under, but also for the ripening of the Holy Spirit’s fruit in my own walk.

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