What is a relationship?
A relationship is when one has an association with someone
else, either through kinship or through friendship. When people have a
relationship, they interact in order to communicate and maintain that
relationship. People have relationships with their family members, friends,
teachers, insurance agents, neighbours, Income Support agent, etc. More
importantly, people may have a relationship with God. Relationships are either
positive, negative, interesting, or non-existent.
Some relationships are based on trust, loyalty, faith,
love, patience, forgiveness, humbleness, and kindness. These types of
relationships are ideally sought after by many, and when attained, the benefits
are most fulfilling and rewarding. The result of positive and constructive
relationships with others is a fulfilled life. They are not, however, gained
overnight. And indeed, attaining the 'perfect relationship', to many, is
like chasing the gold at the foot of a rainbow. We always seem to see the
beautiful ribbons, but can never actually get to the spot. Always there ideally,
but never gained in practicality.
Adversely, other relationships are based on anger,
unforgiveness, distrust, greed, and lies. These are the very things that cause
us to hate people, sometimes even to the point of murder. Past histories have
formulated patterns of behaviour that currently exist. These types of
relationships, when are destructive.
Then there are those types of relationships that just
linger and go nowhere. We don't seem to be interested in continuing because we
are not interested or are indifferent. We don't seem to care because they don't
seem to care. These types of relationships are what I term a 'careless'
relationships, and eventually lead to emptiness and bitterness. They are as
equally soul destroying as the second type mentioned above.
They say there are three ways to run a relationship:
proactively, reactively or destructively. When one proactively runs a
relationship, they are continually seeking to find out more about other people,
and selflessly wanting to fulfil their desires. They get pleasure out of
pleasing. They know that to live is to die. And to love is to live. Proactive
relationship seekers are continually examining themselves so as to be able to
serve other more. They love to give themselves more and more.
This article is not to teach on the nature of relationships
and their underlying psychology. You can read all about that in a text book.
This article is more about priorities. It is about what we should do if we need
to gain a positive relationship with others and God.
How then can one gain the perfect relationships?
First of all, I must first have a relationship with God
through Christ Jesus. This is because He is the Master of creation and
reconciliation. In Colossians 1:17-18 it says, "...all things were
created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things
consist". Paul goes on to say that, "...having made peace on the cross...has
He reconciled...to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight"
The more I live for Christ, and gain knowledge of Him through
His word, the more I am finding out that I have been far off track as far as my
relationships have been. I am in need of a Saviour who knows all about me and
other people, and has all the answers that will lead me to correcting bad
relationships that will stop me from going to hell. God requires perfect
relationships from us with all people because these are the very things that
will drag us down and keep us from gaining eternal life. The key is to know that
Christ has risen from the dead and sits at the right hand of God. And we should
rise up with Him. It is possible to get to that heavenly place. "...and has
raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ
Jesus" Ephesians 2:6.
Secondly, I must set my affections on things above, and
not things on earth. 'Above' (ano) in the Greek means in a higher place, the
place where God is. Not physically higher, but 'deeper'. This is not a
natural place of mental thought for us, but we can work on getting there. Jesus
said in John 8:23, "You are from beneath, I am from above". We must
rise with Christ to seek those things which are above. 'Setting affections'
means more than just to think. It requires thought, will and moral
considerations. It is actions of the will and affections. When one sets their
affections on something, their activities are affected by what they love and
desire to do, then they act. If I set my affections on things of the earth, then
I am setting myself up to fail by entrusting my life in things that have no
eternal value. This is because the world is passing away. "...All that is in
the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,
is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and
the lust thereof" 1 John 2:7.
And why? The reason for not loving earthly things is that I
have died to the world. I am dead to sin and have become rejuvenated in Christ.
Paul describes this process clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:36 where, "that
which you sow is not quickened except it die". This related to a grain of
wheat that must first die physically in order for it to grow. I must reckon
myself dead to all old ways of sin and know that my life is hid with Christ in
God. Being hidden means to be concealed, protected, kept secret. Like a tree in
the winter, the life is hidden, but not actually dead, ready to spring forth at
it appointed time.
Thirdly, I must mortify my members which are born of the
earth. Old habits must be halted in their track by being uprooted and removed. I
must deal with the sin in my life in order to proceed. Paul means to deal with
my body as if it were dead in order to gain self control. These include
fornication (sexual immorality); uncleanness (akatharsia - every kind of impure
act morally), inordinate affection (pathos - the soul's diseased condition
from which lusts springs from), evil concupiscence (epithumia - active and
individual desire resulting from pathos, in Mark 4:9, it says that lusts
choke the word of God); and covetousness (pleonexia - pleon=more, echo=to have.
This means greed, to have more, when a person longs to fill themselves with more
and more material things that they don't have, the desire to have more that
eventually gets out of control) (Colossians 3:5)
Fourthly, I must put off the old person with their deeds...
anger (orge - continual angry state of mind, desire with grief); wrath (thumos -
fits of violence or rage, the accumulation of orge); malice (kakia - evil habits
of the mid); blasphemy and filthy conversation (slander, verbal abuse, the sins
of the tongue); and lying. Putting off simply means dealing with it, then
stopping it. Only Christ can help us achieve this, because HE is the Master of
reconciliation. All things are held together by Him (Colossians 1:17),
and He is all, and in all (Colossians 3:11). Imagine a perfect metal box.
This is 'all'. Then imagine another perfect metal box exactly the same size
and dimensions. This is also 'all'. Finally, imagine the first box being
fitted into the second. Physically, this is impossible, because this is fitting
all inside of all. However, Christ is all, and He is in all. It's only
possible through Christ. He can be the answer to things gone wrong and make them
Fifthly, we must put on the new person... bowels of
mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering, forbearing one
another, and forgiving one another, as Christ forgave you (Colossians 3:13).
See also Matthew 18:21-35. In this story, Jesus says that we must forgive
seventy times seven, as opposed to seven times. Forgiving others is the key to
understanding God's forgiveness. Above all things, put on charity, which is
the bond of perfect-ness (Colossians 3:14). Without love, we are nothing.
Without love, we will never be able to let the peace of God rule in our hearts.
Ultimately, the peace of God is the blessing of salvation. But we must continue
to work on it. We must continually put on the new man.
Sixthly, I must let the word of Christ dwell in me richly in
all wisdom (Colossians 3:16). Once I have gained a relationship with
Christ, then set my affections on things above, the mortified my members, then
put off the old man, then put on the new man, then put on God's love, and
allowed the peace of God rule in my heart, then allowed the work of God to live
inside me richly, there will be no more room for poor relationships. This is
because I have let God take care of things for me. You see, when we come to a
point of knowledge of His purpose in our lives, the focus is taken off us
increasing (old man), and emphasized on Him increasing (new man). This
revelation will cause us to grow in His grace and become the basis for our
interactions. We will know how to behave and treat others because of God's
love in us. We will care for others because He cares for us. We will forgive
others because He forgave us. We will be patient with others because of His
enduring patience for us. We will be peaceful towards others because of His
peace ruling in our hearts. We will understand them because His peace passes all
understanding through its bond of perfect-ness.
It is through this bond of perfect-ness that we will know
how to relate to our wives, husbands, children, fathers, mothers, employees, and
employers. We will know that living out perfect relationships is what God calls
us to do and that it is pleasing in His sight. By living perfect relationships,
we have the assurance of eternal life, because this has been made possible by
one perfect relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In a way, relationship
building is a ministry we have received from the Lord. We are all called to the
ministry of reconciliation, reconciling man to man, and man to God through
Christ. Remember the bonds that tie down those in bondage and pray that Jesus
will loosen them.
Know His grace. Know His will in your life. And finally,
know God Himself through a perfect relationship.
Why Perfect Relationships??
"For we are His workmanship, created
in Christ Jesus unto good works, which we were prepared in advance that we
should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10)