Is There Hope For a “Dirty, Messy Family?”

My wife and I are endeavoring to read the Bible through in 2019. I’ve been a Christian for going on six years now and have never read the Bible from cover to cover in a year. It’s not something you have to do to go to heaven, but it’s been on my bucket list for awhile.

One of the cool things about doing something like this with someone else is the opportunity to discuss things as they come along to learn and gain a new perspective (in addition to keeping each other accountable). The other day, as my wife was reading her Bible, she said jokingly, “what a dirty messy family.”

She was simply making an observation about what she was reading in Genesis. Admittedly, there are several “dirty, messy” families in Genesis. In this instance, she was referring to Jacob’s family.

Jacob’s family is somewhat infamous for strained relationships. There’s tension between Jacob and his brother, his father-in-law, his wife wives, and even God (Gen. 35:9-15). Between the episodes of how his sons avenged his daughter’s rape in Genesis 34, the Judah and Tamar situation in Genesis 38, the way his sons treated their brother in Genesis 39, and how one of his sons slept with one of his wives (Gen. 49:4), it’s clear to see how someone could describe this family as “dirty and messy.”

The mistake that is sometimes made when these Scriptures are read is to assume that because they are recorded they are morally approved. One of the things Genesis is known for is recording what happened without giving a moral takeaway or stance on the situation. So, yeah… Jacob had a dirty, messy family.

But who doesn’t? Families are made of human beings and human beings are world famous for being dirty and messy. If God didn’t work through dirty, messy people, then He wouldn’t work through anybody. Jacob’s family might have been dirty and messy, but from that family we have the 12 tribes of Israel and the lineage of the Messiah. Sure, they made mistakes and often lived convoluted lives, but God still used them to accomplish His purpose of bringing the Messiah, the savior of all, into the world.

So, if you have a dirty and messy family, you’re in surprisingly good company. This doesn’t mean we should excuse sin and not seek repentance, confession, and forgiveness. It means that even in the midst of our mess and our mistakes God is willing to pick us up and use us for good. Jacob’s family was dirty and messy but (by and large) they sought God, humbled themselves, and strived for righteousness.

We often try to hide the mess and dirt of our families. We don’t make facebook or instagram posts about arguments and struggles and piles of untouched laundry. But there is hope for a dirty, messy family when God is in the picture. “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Lk. 18:27 ESV). No mess is too big for God. In fact, it is in the midst of our weaknesses and brokenness that God really shines (2 Cor. 12:7-10).

If your family is dirty and messy, love them. Try to encourage them towards faithfulness. Forgive them when they mess up. Lovingly call them out when you have to. Hug them often.

2 thoughts on “Is There Hope For a “Dirty, Messy Family?”

  1. Wonderful post! You make some really good points. I hope you do reach your goal of reading the entire Bible! I read mine with coffee every morning, and it took roughly 6 months or so. Definitely a life-changer.

    Take good care,

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