Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Right relationships

A good relationship is intimate, long lasting and constant. The Bible describes is as “abiding”. We are to “abide in love”, “abide in the vine”, and “abide in the Word.”
This kind of intimate relationship is face to face. It takes time and effort to maintain it. There is a need to pay attention.
Our most important relationship is with God. For it to be successful, we need to live openly before God. Our relationship with God affects every area of life. If we close our hearts to God, we will close off to everyone else as well.
An integral part of an open, intimate relationship is admitting when we are wrong. The Bible calls this confession. It is so hard to be vulnerable. But why are we hesitant to confess to God, especially when He already knows and has already forgiven us?
We’re hesitant because in our human world, it is very risky to live so openly. People hurt and disappoint us on a regular basis. People cannot be counted on. They fail. But God is love, and the Bible says love never fails.
It takes honesty and vulnerability to have a truly intimate relationship. They say ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you’ but the reality is that what you don’t know can kill you. It can also kill your relationship.
Every problem in the world is a relational problem. And can be solved by a dose of humility. Having the guts to say, I’m sorry, I was wrong, and the courage to admit when someone is more talented, better able to cope, more gifted than we are, will go a long way in solving all the world-challenging issues. Humility is world changing.
If we walk in humility, God grants us more grace to walk through the hurts and disappointments of human relationships. Humility says that we know who we are and do not have to prove it. So the petty words, the braggado, the competition doesn’t affect or tempt us to respond. Humility is the confident security of identity, and that identity is found in Jesus Christ.
All relationships are high maintenance — there is no such thing as a low-maintenance relationship. There is no “coasting” when it comes to relationship. Paying attention requires your time and effort. If you want a truly intimate relationship, you must work at it.
Do we think Proverbs 3:5-6 doesn’t apply to us? Proverbs 3:5-6 says that we must trust in God and commit our plans to him, and not think we know and understand His plans. If we do this, He promises to give us direction. In another passage in Psalms, He tells us if we delight in Him, focus on Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts. Intimacy gives true satisfaction, and guidance and direction for our lives.
The ability to make and maintain good relationships will determine what kind of choices we will make. Who and what we listen to will shape how we think and what we perceive.
Experience teaches — at great cost and with great pain. How much pain do you need until you learn to make a different choice?
Counsel teaches — leveraging the experience of others. But the question remains as to who we please? Who are our counsellors wanting to please? If we aren’t careful about who we listen to, we will still end up on the wrong path.
The Bible teaches that the beginning of wisdom is the desire to please God. And He says the best way to learn is through obedience. If we would learn to just do what we’re told before we can understand why, we would save ourselves so much unnecessary pain. That kind of obedient trust, however, requires intimacy.
Guidance for life is found in relationships. The ability to be vulnerable and transparent is not natural but essential! Without that intimacy, we cannot succeed. So who are you intimate with?
There are three kinds of relationships — ahead, beside, behind.
Ahead — who are you following? We start off by following earthly parents, then move on to following spiritual parents, mentors, and elders. Are they going the right way? The only way to know is by following God. If you bump into each other, both need to check their direction, because someone’s going the wrong way. This is what is meant by “abiding in the Word”. If we know the Bible, intimately, we will know when we follow someone off the right track.
Beside — who do you walk with? We walk with our spouse, peers, and friends. Are they helping us to the next level or holding us back? Again, “abiding in the vine” will ensure that we will always grow. Often, if we continue growing, those we walk with will grow as well, in order to stay beside us.
Behind — who are you leading? We lead our children, youth and younger Christians. Are you aware of who’s watching you? What is your example like? This is where we need to “abide in love.” If we live lives of transparent, open and honest love, we will always lead in the right direction.
We need to admit we want, need and crave meaningful relationships. It’s how we were designed, and what we were created for. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the evening. What did they talk about, with no lack, no temptation, no problems? They just enjoyed genuine, intimate relationship with their Creator.
Genuine relationships require commitment – a risk of time and effort. It requires a risk of openness and the willingness to share, to be hurt. We need to realize we have and will be disappointed by relationships here on earth.
So place appropriate expectations on our human relationships. Understand that at some point they *will* hurt you, and be willing to love them anyways. Be willing to be vulnerable in spite of their failings.
Remember our identity, destiny, and value is found in God alone. If we remain secure in the knowledge of God’s overwhelming mercy, undeserved grace and indescribable love, we will be confidently humble and be able to show the same mercy, grace and love in our human relationships.
People are imperfect, God alone is perfect. So let’s not expect perfection and be angry when humans fail us. Instead, as God forgave us when we failed and rejected Him, let us forgive others when they hurt us.
There will be bad relationships, but we are told to overcome evil with good. Not that we don’t protect ourselves – bad company corrupts good character, but that we don’t return evil for evil. We forgive and always be willing to try again, even if the other person never does come back.
We need to realize we have and will fail others in relationships. We cannot love and be hypocritical. Good relationships require that we confess as well as forgive, and acknowledge when we mess up.
Do you realize you are NOT perfect?
How well do you repent? How often do you admit your failure? Often times forgiving is easy, but confession is incredibly hard. However, it is confession that is freeing. In order to change and grow, we must first recognize that we have a problem. And believe me, this is something I'm still learning. 
Remember the golden rule .. Treating others how we want to be treated, not how we are being treated. Love requires us to always be gracious and forgiving, and God promised us that as we give, so will we be given.
Meekness is strength and power under control. Jesus said that the meek would inherit the earth. Can you see how? In meekness and humility, we can walk in intimacy and love with all around us, and our genuineness will attract others. It is this ability to abide that grew the early Church, and will grow the latter-day Church as well.
However, genuine repentance is the sign to embrace anew the relationship. Never give up on having that genuine relationship. It is not up to us to determine another’s actions, but just to abide in love, doing what is right, and leave the rest to God.
You can’t have someone else’s relationship. We must each build our own. We cannot build on what others have done, but must build on the foundation of Jesus Christ, and abide in the Vine and in His love.
Keep hope alive! The Word of God revives the soul. If we abide in it, we will always have the one relationship we need to survive.
What relationships need extra attention in your world today?

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