All in the Family
Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 5:3-8
Those who won’t care for their own relatives . . . have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers. 1 Timothy 5:8
“Hey, Travis,” Kyle said as the two walked home from school again, “has it ever occurred to you that Jesus’ command to love your neighbor really means to love everybody—not just the people who live next door?”
“Wow!” Travis exclaimed. “I guess I can’t go to the movie with you tonight.”
“I have to get to bed early and get my sleep,” Travis explained, “because I have six billion neighbors to love!”
Travis is getting the message, but he’s still confused.
Yes, Jesus wants you to love everybody, but you can’t show your love in specific ways to everybody. You don’t have enough time, energy, or resources to care for every person on the planet. That’s why you need to figure out where to start.
Talk about it: When your goal is to love, where should you begin?
God wants us to start with the people closest to us. Then we can work our way out to the whole world “whenever we have the opportunity” (Galatians 6:10).
Here are two big ones:
Yourself. Believe it or not, your first love responsibility is yourself. If you don’t provide for your basic needs and protect yourself from hurtful influences, you won’t have much love to give others. Without the right self-love—taking care of your mental, emotional, spiritual, and social growth—you’ll run out of gas when you try to love the other people God has called you to love.
Your family. Next to loving yourself, your next biggest job is loving your own family. As Paul wrote, “Those who won’t care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers” (1 Timothy 5:8). People all need help, encouragement, prayer, and comfort from others. God says your energy to meet those needs should go to your parents, brothers, and sisters first. Caring for extended family members, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles, comes in a close second (see 1 Timothy 5:16).
Do you ever wonder what God means when he says “Love your neighbor”? God intends your first love commitment to be to those closest to you—people who need you—and that’s your family. God wants you to love everyone. But loving everyone starts at home!
TALK: Does God’s command to love everyone seem like more than you can handle? What are some things you can do to start loving the people closest to you?
PRAY: Lord, we want people to see you in us. Teach us to love the people closest to us.
ACT: Do one jumbo loving thing for a family member today. Make it a surprise!