Let’s Talk About Relationships
Ezekiel 11:19-20 says, “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove the heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people and I will be their God.”
God was talking to Ezekiel about reconciling us back to Himself through Christ and sending His Spirit to dwell inside us. He determined to redeem us and bring us into relationship with Him. We tend to make the things of God so deep, but His whole objective is relationship!
God can do all things, so I imagine He could have saved us in other ways – but He sent His only Son to die for us. Jesus spent 3 years in ministry – breaking bread with the people, teaching them, and giving them a template for all relationships.
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20).
In my last article about selfishness, I talked about how it’s impossible to properly relate to others when you don’t have a relationship with God. Here, John is saying the same thing. It’s so ironic that we often go to God seeking comfort or refuge from people who hurt us, and even when they are completely in the wrong, He requires us to forgive in order to heal.
We can learn so much from the lengths God went to have a relationship with us. He didn’t owe us anything and yet He gave!
Love Like Christ
Are we following this example in our relationships? So many of us are unwilling to be kind or giving toward people who don’t (or cant) reciprocate. Team, that is not godly. Luke 6:33 says, “If you only do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that”. Showing people love and generosity – especially to those who haven’t been so nice to us – shows the authentic love of God. Let’s take the grace and mercy God gave us and pay it forward.
All of this is easier said than done – I understand that, so does our Lord. That’s why He sent His Spirit who is our Counselor (John 14:16-18). Having the Holy Spirit to guide you in your relationships is imperative. Here are a few ways we can be led by the Spirit in our dealings with people:
- “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Oftentimes, people just want you to listen so they can hear and correct themselves while they’re talking to you. In your zeal to help, take a moment to really listen.
- You are not God! You cannot be all things to all people. Your efforts may be well-intended, but we need to allow God room to work on people. Discernment is key. God will give you grace, peace, and patience to be of help to those He called you to serve.
- Pray for the people around you. Not only for people who confide in you, but for everyone because you never know what someone’s going through. Intercession helps us to remember that all people are souls that God created and loves. It helps us to be compassionate when they are difficult to be around.
- Toughen up! People can at times say or do things that seem unreasonable, inconsiderate, and insensitive – many times they don’t have the foggiest idea. Learn to let things go and not take everything personal. This will bring you so much peace.
I see the lack of trust as one of the biggest barriers to healthy relationships. We hide from people because we fear judgment and ridicule. We are trying to protect ourselves from further damage. As we grow in God, we learn to filter experiences through His Spirit and we are better able to relate. We’re able to let our guard down and connect. So, let’s remember to love each other with the love of God in sincerity and acceptance. Just as parents, we want our kids to look after one another and get along – God is our Father and He wants us to do the same.
So, What’s The Play Call?
- No relationship is as important as the one you have with God, but don’t forsake your earthly brothers and sister. Jesus prayed that we might unify and be one (John 17:20-21)
- “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in LOVE” (Ephesians 4:2)
- It’s okay to be vulnerable and to trust others – it’s actually much easier to connect when we do. Connection is the foundation of relationships.