Posts Tagged ‘Relationships


The Mind Of Christ

Paul told the Philippians that they should not look to their own interests, but to the interests of others. They needed to be humble in their dealings with one another. He then holds up Jesus as the model for how to have a relationship with someone. He wrote:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus… – Philippians 2:5 (NIV)

In the next several verses after this, Paul elaborates on what he means by having the mind of Christ. We need to be more like Jesus in our relationships inside and outside of the church. In our homes, we need to have the mind of Christ as we deal with our spouses, our children and our parents. In our workplaces, we need to have the mind of Christ as we deal with our bosses, employees and co-workers. In our churches, we need to have the mind of Christ as we deal with people who may be much different than us. In every relationship we have, we need to consider how Jesus would love, serve and forgive the other person.

The Fire Of Gossip

Gossip destroys friendships and relationships. When we hear gossip, we have a choice to make. We can repeat it or we can stop it. Proverbs 26 says this:

Without wood a fire goes out;
    without a gossip a quarrel dies down.

21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. – Proverbs 26:20-21 (NIV)

If we choose to repeat gossip, then we are adding wood to a fire. It is like adding charcoal to a barbecue grill. The gossip we spread has the potential to keep adding drama to a situation that may be destroying a relationship. Let’s face it, when we hear gossip we get a little bit excited. You know something juicy and now you can’t wait to tell someone else. Ask yourself, “Will this help defuse a situation or will it make things worse?” Don’t spread gossip. Let it die with you and you can help extinguish a raging fire.

Hanging Out With The Wise

If we take a look at Proverbs 13, there is an important question to ask ourselves.  Who are we walking with?  In verse 20, Solomon says:

He who walks with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20, NIV)

If you hang out with wise people, you will grow in wisdom.  If you hang out with fools, you will do foolish things.  So who are your friends?  Who do you hang out with?  People will rub off on you.  If you hang out with people who get drunk all the time, at some point you may join them.  If you hang out with people who swear and curse, you are more likely to pick up on their habits.  This can go for those you hang out with or those you date and marry.  If you are a Christian, you have to ask yourself a question.  Will this relationship bring me closer to Christ or push me away from Christ?  Will this friendship help me grow in faith and wisdom or will it bring me harm?  It’s a tough choice.  We like our friends and we like our boyfriend/girlfriend.  But is the relationship beneficial or detrimental to your spiritual growth?  Which relationship will last longer: your relationship with your drinking buddies or your relationship with Christ?  It’s a lot to think about and it may mean some hard choices, but Solomon is right when he says that ultimately, “a companion of fools suffers harm”
PRAYER: Father, grant me wisdom when it comes to my relationships. I want to grow in my relationship with You first and foremost. Help me to be a better friend and to know which friends will help me grow closer to You. I thank You for the people in my life who help me grow in faith. Amen.

A Good Reminder

Good Wednesday morning to you!  In this life are bound to come troubles, difficulties and disappointments.  In this life are bound to come hardships, roadblocks and people who will let you down.  Someone is going to mess up your day today.  It’s simple mathematics.  You’re going to come into contact with hundreds of people today in one way or another.  It may be a co-worker or a neighbor or a friend.  It might be someone at the grocery store or on the freeway.  You’re going to run into someone having a rotten day and it will seem like they were put on this earth to ruin your day.  Remember this – they weren’t.  Remember that they may be going through something about which you have no idea.  They may be losing a loved one.  They may be going through a break up of some kind.  Their coffee maker might be on the fritz.  You never know what someone is going through, so be patient and kind to everyone you meet.  After all, you don’t want to be the person who ruins someone else’s day.  Think about that as you move about through this Wednesday.  God bless…


Fear Induced Isolation

I am becoming more convinced of something the older I get.  A fulfilling life is about relationships.  First and foremost, one’s relationship with God.  Secondly, a relationship with others.  Finally, your relationship with yourself.  For a truly joyful life, we need healthy relationships with God, others and ourselves – in that order.
Throughout Ecclesiastes we have seen how Solomon’s pursuit of the third relationship – pleasing himself in various ways – left him feeling empty.  In this passage, Solomon realizes the importance of relationships with others.  Life without friendships is lonely and meaningless.  Later in this study, we’ll see what Solomon says about one’s relationship with God.
Relationships are not just about receiving, but giving as well.  Purely self-centered relationships where one party takes and takes and takes are not healthy.  Whether it is in a friendship or a marriage, there must be give and take.  When one falls, the other can pick them up and vice-versa.  When the one who isolates themselves falls, who will be there to help them?
Some may choose a life of loneliness because they’re afraid of getting hurt.  Some may want to be an island living a life of isolation because they don’t want to risk vulnerability.  At the end of your life, what will you want?  How will your fear and isolation help you when you’re dying alone?  Take the risk.  Don’t choose isolation over vulnerability.  We’re not meant to be Lone Rangers.  God created us with a need for relationships.  To be truly healthy and whole means that we need others in our lives.

Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 (NIV)

Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:

There was a man all alone;
    he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
    yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
    “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
    a miserable business!

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


What Are You Working For?

For what or for whom are you working?  For whom do you commute to and from work each day?  Are you working for your spouse or your children?  Are you working to build a company or to make a better life for your family?  Are you working to make a difference or just to make ends meet?
How do you view work?  Is it a necessary evil?  Is it fun and enjoyable?  Is work stressful and worrisome?  Is it hard and yet yields very little in the way of results?
King Solomon viewed work as meaningless.  Look at verses 22-23:

What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless. – Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 (NIV)

We work our fingers to the bone for 30-40 years and why do we toil?  We work hard to provide for our families.  We work long days in order to do a little better than our parents.  We work the midnight shift to make ends meet.  We work 2-3 jobs just to put food on the table.  Never mind getting ahead.  We’re just trying to keep our heads above water.  We’re tired and our backs ache and yet we cannot sleep because of anxiety over our work.
What does all of this work get us?  Solomon describes work with some pretty harsh words:
  • Grief
  • Pain
  • Worrisome
When we come to the end of our lives, we discover that all of our work cannot add an hour to our lives.  The overtime we worked will not have mattered.  As you are surrounded by grieving loved ones, your portfolio will be worthless to you and will eventually be fought over shortly after you pass.  What will have mattered?  Your relationships will be all that concerns you.  Your relationship to God and your relationships with others.  Why are you working?  What sacrifices are you making so that you can make more money?  Which is better to sacrifice, time or work?  Is there an expenditure you could cut in order to work a little less to have more time with those whom you love and who love you?  You cannot buy time or love.  Once they’re gone, they’re gone.  Don’t regret the time you spent working because you missed out on those moments with those whom you love.
Ecclesiastes 2:17-23 (NIV)
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.

The Rules Versus Relationships

In Luke 14, Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath at a Pharisee’s house.  This man was suffering with a swollen body.  He was obviously in pain and discomfort, so Jesus decides to do something about it.  But before He heals the man, He asks the Pharisees and experts in the Law a question about the legality of healing someone on the Sabbath.  Work of any kind was strictly forbidden and the Pharisees had quite the written code that spelled out exactly what was and what was not considered work.  The Pharisees had thirty-nine categories of work that were prohibited on the Sabbath!  For example, one could not even touch a hammer lest one accidentally put it to use!  They wanted to make sure that no one would even violate the 4th commandment, even if it was an accident.  So Jesus asks them a simple question:

Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not? – Luke 14:3 (NIV)

In other words, what is more important?  Rules or relationships?  Laws or love?  We need to have a healthy respect and reverence for God’s Word and His commands.  Jesus said that if we love Him, then we will obey His commands.  Let us not get so legalistic that we forget the higher law of love.  Paul said that love is the greatest thing.  People matter to God and they should matter to us.  Jesus challenges the experts and the Pharisees with the idea of showing kindness to an animal by pulling it out of a well on the Sabbath.  Surely that would be considered work!  Why would they find it acceptable to show kindness to an animal, but not to a fellow human being?  Let us obey God’s commands out of a desire to please Him.  May we also be known for our kindness and love shown to people and not just for following the rules.

Luke 14:1-14

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus at a Pharisee’s House

14 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.2 There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.

5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.

7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

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