“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8
Lately I’ve encountered many well-meaning people who are frustrated with trying to support their family members. My friend Alyssa has helped her older brother get out of one financial mess after another, only to see him make the same bad decisions over and over again. Another friend, David, is dealing with a family member who is mentally ill but refuses to stay on her medication. She goes from crisis to crisis and calls David to bail her out.
Both Alyssa and David want to follow Paul’s instructions to take care of their families. But, like so many others, they deal with the frustration and guilt of wanting to throw up their hands and walk away.
Paul wrote about helping our family, but he also spoke about personal responsibility. In letters to the Thessalonians, he encouraged the believers not to be idle and not to be dependent on anybody. Jesus didn’t pick up the lame beggar, He told the man to pick up his mat under his own power and walk (John 5:8).
When confronted with a similar situation, it is important to get wise counsel and know you are not in this alone. Have the courage to only offer the kind of help that will encourage your family member to take responsibility and stand on his or her own two feet.
God, give comfort and wisdom to the ones who don’t want to see their loved ones hurting. And give them the courage to set boundaries that encourage personal responsibility. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If you are struggling with a family issue, find a support group or counselor who can help you navigate the waters of family responsibility.