The Curse of Familiarity

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

Do you remember your teenage through young adult years? Do you remember what you were like? For many, that was the period where their parents began to grow unintelligent and out of touch with reality as they become brilliantly wise about all aspects of life.

It’s amazing how when I got married and began to have children, my parents suddenly had this transformation and became wonderfully smart and wise again! Yeah right! The truth is, I’m embarrassed for those years of depreciating my parent’s wisdom while exalting my own. The thing that most snapped me out of this delusional stage was having children. It was at that point that I began to grow in my understanding and appreciation for what love and responsibility was truly all about. It was at that time that my love and appreciation for my parents began to skyrocket. As a young parent, I was beginning to appreciate all that my parents had sacrificed for me and my siblings, and all crap they put up with from us over the years.

Do you think this is the only season of life this happens? It’s not. It’s called familiarity and it breeds contempt instead of appreciation and honor for those who have loved and helped us. If we don’t understand and guard against it, we will make the mistake of under-appreciating those that we should appreciate and honor again and again.

Jesus begins to help us see how this could happen through His words in Luke 4:24 NIV. “I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.” Jesus spoke two very key words that deserve your full attention. First He said, “I tell you the truth…” When Jesus says something is the truth, He is not saying it lightly because everything He says is truth. He is saying this is an absolute truth you must take seriously. Secondly, He said the word “no” as in “no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.” The word no means just what you think no means. It means none—no exception. He is saying that without exception, there is this experience of familiarity.

What is familiarity? It’s the experience of knowing someone for so long and so well that a depreciating respect and a loss of appreciation creeps in. And this happens even toward those who have had the most profound influence upon your life.

Jesus was speaking of Himself but also of a common experience of life. Jesus grew up in his own hometown and community and those that grew up with him knew him well. He was a carpenter’s son. He was the son of Joseph and Mary and had at least 6 younger siblings. They’d known him all his life. They knew his strengths, and their perspective of his weaknesses. How could he suddenly proclaim himself to be the son of God? He became the prophet in his own home town and because they knew him so well, they couldn’t see him in this new light.

This can happen anywhere. We know children can become so familiar with their parents, that they lose the ability to appreciate their parent’s wisdom and experience.  Employees can become so familiar with their boss that they begin to depreciate the wisdom their boss has. They lose sight that their boss or company owner worked hard to get where he is and they still have great wisdom to learn from.

Husbands and wives can become so familiar with each other and with each other’s faults and weaknesses that they become blinded to the wonderful qualities in each other that led them to fall in love.

Friends can become so familiar with each other that they take each other for granted.  We see this in Job 19:14 (NKJV) “My relatives have failed, And my close friends have forgotten me.” And in Psalm 41:9 NLT “Even my own familiar friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me.”

People can even become familiar with God—so much so, that He becomes just another figure in their life and not the one they respect and reverence as Almighty God! 

God has the answer to all of this! Philippians 2:3-4 says, “…Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.” It’s having a spirit of appreciation for those around you in your day-to-day life. Quit looking for their flaws and instead look for the good knowing they are a work in progress like you . And then God says this! Romans 13:7 (NIV) “Give everyone what you owe him… if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” God is telling us to make it an ongoing practice in our life to give honor and respect to those that have helped us be a better person over time. Spend time with God and He’ll show you who they are. Hold them in their place of honor in your heart and find ways to express or show them that honor and appreciation from time to time. Guard that and don’t let familiarity steal it.

Whether it’s Almighty God, your parents, your boss, your spouse, your friend, or whoever has been a beneficial influence in the success of your life, work to remember and appreciate and even honor them from time to time. Do so and those relationship will be the gift that keeps on giving and makes you a better person as a result of it.  This is a precious lesson to learn. I hope you will!

Romans 12:10 (NLT2) “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt

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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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