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Daily routines and associations with those closest to us can sometimes cause us to downplay their strengths and pick apart little things about them. A surface of critiquing and criticizing seems easier to some than delving into what’s below the surface to focus on the greater good dwelling in an individual.
One prime example of this sort of relationship is within marriage. Spouses who have been married for any considerable amount of time with the ins and outs of daily life can sometimes start to hone in on what bothers them the most about the other as opposed to purposefully looking to view them in light of all the positives they have to bring to the table.
Why is it so easy to see what doesn’t please us about people and harder to focus on their good attributes? Why does it seem easier to dismiss the familiar just because they are, well, familiar?
Jesus knew exactly how it felt to be dishonored in such a way. Once He is quoted as saying, “A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house,” Mark 6:4.
Common sense would tell us to support and uphold those closest to us; to have their back and cheer them on when seeing them trying to get ahead or excel at life. We have no problem when it comes to doing this on a national level, say for the Olympics. We give that one competing for our country our support and we stand in front of the screens rooting them on to win so that nationally we gain a medal at the end.
But for those closest to us, when we see them talk of their dreams and make plans to forge ahead into the future unknown; when we see them start ministries, set goals, and go after where they feel God is leading them, is it easier to downplay that than offer the support we so willingly give to others whom nationally we don’t even know? Does our opinion of them, because we knew them way back when alter our perspective of their current work, hopes, and dreams?
In Luke 4, Jesus, quoting the same verse as above, also gave two examples from their history of people who received blessings although they were not of the Jewish people. One was the widow of Zarephath in the region of Sidon and the other was Naaman the Syrian (vss. 26-27). Both were Gentiles and not of the “familiar” countrymen of which Jesus spoke.
The widow received provision during the time of famine and Naaman received healing from a normally incurable disease. They weren’t blinded by the familiar, rather they opened their hearts to the link that God had placed right in front of their faces to receive the blessing He had in store for them.
Don’t let the familiar cause you to miss out on the blessings found in the people that God has already placed in your life. To you, they may seem like, “Oh, that just so and so. No need to worry about them.” But, they may be your connection to that blessing that God wants to pour into your life. Don’t count your blessings out (like those whom Jesus was talking about) just because you know the source from which it flows.
And, what if you are the one being rejected like Jesus was; because people know you and don’t want to receive or accept the gift of God in you? You press on anyhow. You don’t dwell on people, but you dwell on the God who gave you the gift and has entrusted you to work His works in your life.
Even if a person doesn’t support you – God does. He does not neglect the gifts that He has placed in you and don’t you do it either (see 1 Timothy 4:14). Don’t cower at their rejection, rather you stir up that gift and let the flames be fanned (see 2 Timothy 1:6).
Jesus was rejected and He also warned in another verse, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you,” (John 15:18). In other words, no matter who you are, and no matter what gift you have in you not everybody is going to be on board with you or supportive of the work of God in you.
What do you do? How do you deal with that contemptuous familiarity then? You do what Jesus did: “He passing through the midst of them went his way,” (Luke 4:30). You keep on keeping on. Jesus didn’t stand around and try to convince them to receive Him. Life is too short for that; His time on earth would declare as some of us say today, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” We have limited time here on earth and God needs our gifts and ministries up and running and being effective for His kingdom.
What do you do? You follow the path of God for your life. You continue to go forth working the works of God He placed in you, sowing seeds of ministry wherever He leads you.
Familiarity breeds contempt can work two ways: it causes us to miss out on the best of people that God has already placed in our lives, and it causes rejection of what you personally can bring to the table, seeking to hinder you, but it doesn’t have to.
With the love of God operating in us, we can look at those around us and be thankful for the familiar and the special things that each one brings to our lives. And, with our faith in God we can march forth in the destiny He has in store for us regardless of who has our backs because, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). We can stay positive in what He has called us to and not succumb to the negative because of the familiar.
For either end that one may find themselves on, we have Jesus as our prime example on how to deal with it. Follow Him and you will never be led wrong. Familiarity doesn’t have to breed contempt. God may be doing something new in the midst of the ordinary and you don’t want to miss it.