In Deuteronomy 2 in God’s accounting of where He had led the Children of Israel, He reminds them of their encounter with unsavory relatives, you know the type, “the black sheep of the family.” They are those who through their choices could easily be an embarrassment to the family. On the east bank of the Jordan they ran into the Moabites and Ammonites, distant family that owe their being to the two daughters of Lot getting their father drunk so as to get impregnated by him. Then there is Edom, that nation that had it’s origin in Esau, Jacob’s rough and wild brother.
It is interesting to see what God had to say about their treatment.
4 And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: 5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession. (Deuteronomy 2:4, 5 )
And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession. (Deuteronomy 2:9 )
And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession. (Deuteronomy 2:19)
Here we see God’s care for the so called disenfranchised members of the family. They are family still.
Lets get practical. If someone in your family does wrong and you speak to them about it and they do not heed your council, do you then cut off all familial contact for fear that any friendliness might appear to approve of what you felt burdened to speak to them about? It is easy to think that an overture of kindness might seem to condone the sin.
The truth is, they know what you really think as you spoke your mind. Any love and kindness expressed after that, should be consistent with the love that motivated you to speak in the first place. Any love manifested by you conveys you truly love them and will help to convey to them that it is the sin that is the issue and not them personally. They are family after all.
N.B. – Church discipline is a little different, as excommunication, (the last step), is designed to question whether they are really in the family of God (the church) or not. In such a case, perhaps they are not family after all.
The love and care God showed for the black sheep of Abraham’s larger family, Ammon, Moab, and Esau is worth reflecting on.