EPHESIANS 4:1-2 – I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love . . .
THEME OF THE DAY. THE CHALLENGE OF HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS. Relationships are tough. Real tough. I have a book in my library that I use for marriage counseling that reminds me of this truth. It is titled, When Sinners Say ‘I Do: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage. The title speaks volumes about human relationships, not only in marriage, but in any relationships. We are sinners. Forgiven sinners, yes, but still with sin battles that always scream, “Me, me, my, my, mine, mine.” And there lies the core problem in all relationships – selfishness. We simply want our way. We want to be served. We want to be of the highest priority. We want things and treatment done to us according to our personal desires and wishes. We want our needs put on the front burner in other people’s lives. For the Christian, this is a huge problem because this type of self-centered attitude in human relationships is the way of the world, not the way of Christ and the cross. Jesus says, “Deny yourself. You don’t have rights. You are my slave” while the world pushes back and says, “Fulfill yourself, pursue your dreams, demand your rights, be served, don’t serve.” In my many times of counseling Christians in conflict, it is almost without fail, the relationship is strained because of a failure to see each other as servants committed to self-denial for the better of the other person. In marriages, the number one cause among Christians who are in conflict is that the wife or husband or both want to be served not serve. I would be so bold to say that if Christian marriages, and even Christians in our churches, would live under the complete Lordship of Christ and always put the interests of others ahead of their own, conflict would vanish. Now I know this isn’t easy, simple yes, but not easy, so allow me two points of application to help us in all our human relationships.
First, do what the Apostle Paul commands of us in today’s scripture – “bear with one another in love.” How do we do this? Two ways. In relationships with non-Christians, see them from the standpoint of creation. Though there are sinners, they still are created beings in the image of God. Yes, they need to be redeemed, but treat them as image-bearers of God. In doing so, we will put up or bear with them under the control of Christ’s love. As for relationships with Christians, bear with them in love by seeing them as “God’s construction projects not yet finished.” See them, and treat them, through the lens of grace realizing God is at work making them like Jesus, even in their failings and sinning against us.
Another thing to help us in the challenge and messiness of interpersonal relationships whether in a marriage, family, church, on the job, or just among friends is simply let offenses and hurts go. There are times when short accounts are best accounts. There are times when we must wipe the slate clean. There are times when we must allow the Apostle Peter’s good words of “love covers a multitude of sins” blanket the hurts we receive from others (1 Peter 4:8). And when this is hard, which it is, just pause and remember how the Lord Jesus has forever blanketed our sins by His loving sacrifice.
Human relationships. They are wonderful, fulfilling, hard, messy, and at times hurtful, but they are God’s gift to us. Let’s handle them with the same care Jesus uses in handling us.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to treat people not only like I want to be treated, but how You treat me.”
QUOTE: “Bearing with one another in love is not only a command but the way to show Jesus to one another.”