How To Show Compassion For A Lost Family Member?

Name: Meaghan
Question: Hello Brandon, Thank you for your excellent work and studies! 

I have a question regarding a brother (29yrs old) who has had addiction problems for almost half his life. Jail. Rehab. No job ever. Parents pay for apartment. He lives on food stamps and the money my parents give him. It’s very tiring and hard for my mother to find the boundaries between support/love and absolutely enabling. It is starting to divide my mom and I. 

Could you offer scripture relating to any of this? How can I be compassionate but also have boundaries with my children around him? Do I stop offering advice or scripture to my mom regarding the enabling? 

Answer: Meaghan,

Good morning and thanks for reaching out.

After reading your email, the first verse that jumped out to me was,

2 Thessalonians 3:10
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

People that are able to work, that refuse to work, are not to eat. Hunger is a great motivator. That is not to say we should not help someone in need, we certainly should.

However, I am speaking of your situation to ensure I am clear here.

It sounds like much has been done to help your brother, and it really sounds like a tough situation.

From what you have explained, it truly sounds like the extra support from the parents is helping to enable his bad behavior.

If your brother was a Christian brother, then Matthew 18:15-17 would apply, but I assume by what you explained, he does not attend church or have a relationship with God…

If you have been a part of the solutions to help your brother, then you have shown compassion. It’s often difficult when we try repeatedly to help someone, and they keep falling off the wagon.

We all make mistakes, and Christ told us to continually forgive.

However, that does not mean we set ourselves up for abuse either.

If someone is unwilling to change, then it's usually best to depart from their company, or else their bad habits can pollute you and your family. I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 6:14 which speaks of non-believers, but the concept is the same when you consider why we should avoid non-believers, (Also: 1 Corinthians 15:33). Due to moral behaviors that may negatively affect ours.

The situation with your Mom sounds tough. She loves her son and wants to do anything for him to help him. We often don’t see helping someone as a negative thing, but this one is.

Your Mom does not want to give up which is admirable.

Since tensions are pressing between you two. If it were me, I would stop offering advice unless I was asked. Your Mom already knows how you feel about the situation and continuing to press it may just permanently damage your relationship with her. Do not let your brother’s bad situation damage you and your mother’s relationship.

If she asks, then sure, carefully give advice.

Honestly, only you can answer these questions.

You are the one with all of the knowledge from all sides. I am just trying to help, and hopefully, offer a perspective from the outside.

As always, take these things to our Father in prayer.

Have a fantastic day, and keep your head up Meaghan. We will be praying as well.

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