Being on staff at various churches has allowed me to hear a variety of stories. One type I dread is about family members who haven’t spoken to each other for a long time. There’s been a breakdown in communication. I hear, “I have no idea what I did. He (or she) just stopped talking to me. My letters, phone calls, and e-mails aren’t returned.” Indeed, it’s a crushing experience when communication and love between family members falls apart.

In Romans 12:10, Paul writes to believers in Jesus, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Family and friends are often the hardest people to love well. We sometimes act less cautiously around them than we might with an acquaintance or stranger, letting down our guard and failing to filter our words. Such behavior is natural but can also be harmful. So what might it look like to honor our family members and close friends?

One way is by listening well without getting angry. James 1:19-20 states, “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” Instead of half-listening or exhibiting an impatience we would not dare show to someone else, in God’s strength we can commit to listening well and to diffusing our short fuse.

It takes practice to love our family members and friends well. We need God’s wisdom to love others, as well as to discern when wise boundaries or separation may be necessary in harmful relationships. And we need His strength to practice patience, gentleness, and self-control.

It’s what Jesus calls us to do every day. Through Christ’s power, we can contribute to peaceful and loving relationships.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: John 13:1-20