The dictionary would tell you that a family is a group of persons who are related to each other; a family is a person’s children; a family is a group of related people including people who lived in the past.
But what Merriam Webster (and its editors inadvertently) do not know is that we live in Africa. In Africa everyone is your family! Just mention casually to your gateman that you need a maid. He will lighten up immediately and tell you that in fact, his sister in the village has been calling him and asking him about job opportunities. Then when she finally arrives, you’ll ask her ‘Ah… your name must be Bisi *insert the surname of your gateman*’ She’ll say, ‘No, my name is Bisi *insert an entirely different surname*’ If you call your gateman and confront him as to why he lied about her being his sister, he would frown at you and look a little confused before he then says, ‘But she is my sister. Not by blood o. But she’s my sister.’
So you see, in a country when your kinsmen are your brothers and sisters and anyone older than you is ‘Mommy or daddy’, we reckon that family is an extremely important aspect of our culture. But guess what? Family (whatever your interpretation of it is) is not just important to Nigeria as a society, but also to the Kingdom of God.
Here are a few scriptures that show how serious and important the family is to God
- Exodus 20:12 says to honour your father and your mother SO THAT you may live long in your promised land. Matthew 15:4 also shows Jesus repeating the same scripture and adding that whoever curses their father or mother is to be put to death. And Ephesians 6:1-2 repeats to us that to honour your father and mother is the first commandment with a promise. That’s how important it is!
2. Joshua 24:15 highlights Joshua’s resolve to serve God irrespective of the choice of the people to serve other gods. But what’s interesting about this scripture is that Joshua realised that if he alone chose to serve God without his family also making that same decision, he’d be having a hard time serving God because apart from the fact that God respects the institution of family, the family has a way of affecting a person’s growth. And so Joshua said, ‘As for me AND MY HOUSE…’
3. Proverbs 6:20 teaches a two-way message on family. It says to children ‘My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching’. But it also says to parents to instruct their children in the right path. It’s interesting that it notes that there are times when the parents have to command and there are times when parents have to teach.
4. Proverbs 15:20 lets us knows that a wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.
5. Psalm 103:17 shows God’s regard for the family- it says that the Lord’s love is with those who fear him and his righteousness with their children’s children.
6. Proverbs 11:29 also says whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind…
And so on…
If you check through the Bible, you will see how powerful the family is. And as much as some of us like to run away from our families, that sassy younger sister, that nosy aunty, that over-doting and inquisitive mother, that strict father – we have to learn to reconcile with those whom the Lord has deemed fit to share our blood relationship with. And we must also know that anyone who is also in some sort of parent/family status with you should also be treated with such respect as is demanded in the Bible!