Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

Ingredients For Happy Relationships

1 PETER 3:8 – Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

THEME OF THE DAY. INGREDIENTS FOR HAPPY RELATIONSHIPS. I am not a cook. I can make coffee and boil water. In a crisis, I am equipped to “cook” TV dinners and chicken pot pies. However, I am married to a really, really good cook. Occasionally, I will wander into the kitchen and see her poring over recipes and putting together ingredients that always lead to something really, really good to eat.

Though not a literal cook, let me offer a sure-fire recipe from today’s scripture for developing and maintaining healthy relationships. Every ingredient is important, but the last one on the list – a humble mind – points us to the foundational piece that must be in place for this to come together. It is like the “bowl” on the kitchen counter in which all the ingredients are put that brings things together. The “bowl” is humility. Nothing is accomplished spiritually and no healthy relationship will exist unless this virtue is alive and well in our lives. Here are just a couple of examples from God’s Word establishing this foundation – Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:3-8); Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). So once the “bowl” is set, here is what we put in it to build healthy and happy relationships.

First, right thinking that puts the interests of others ahead of our own for the sake of Christ-honoring unity – “have unity of mind, a humble mind.” The importance of right thinking in the Christian life cannot be overstated. As we think, so we live. And so much so in the pursuit of unity in a family and church. Too often we don’t let our minds guide our Christian life and relationships. We don’t let rational thought, Biblical reasoning, and objective truth direct us. No, we let emotions rule and when that happens, relationships go sour quickly. Anger, impulsive speech, critical attitudes, and bitterness take over and nothing good comes from any of them. Behind all of those sinful traits is the lack of humility and presence of pride. And here is what pride screams, “Me, my, mine. My rights, my opinions, my everything matters first.” If we don’t get our mind under control of the Spirit and Word, then humility is gone and when it hits the door of our hearts to leave, pride takes residency and unity is gone.

The other ingredients – sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart – we group under one heading “a life lived under the power and control of Christ’s love” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Isn’t this the “glue” that holds everything together? How may any relationship crumble when we live with a controlling love that is patient, kind, does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice at wrongdoing, rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things? (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). They cannot.

So, maybe you are a really good cook, or like me . . . whatever our culinary skills, all of us may be excellent spiritual “cooks” by putting these ingredients – unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind – into our lives for the good of healthy relationships.

PRAYER: “Father, help me to take the high road which is the low road of humility and thus promote unity in my relationships.”

QUOTE: “When humility is absent in relationships, tension is not. Pride is the sin of sins fracturing all relationships.”