Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?
“Relationships” have been a hot topic around our house in recent weeks. As my kids are getting into their later teen years and developing more friendships and beginning to date, their father and I have tried to convey the importance of Godly relationships. 1 Corinthians 15:33 reads, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Beyond the obvious reason of wanting to make sure that our kids make good choices in the friends they choose to keep so that they continue on the “straight and narrow”, we also do not want them to needlessly suffer from attaching themselves to people that do not have their best interests at heart. In Proverbs 4:23, Solomon warns, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” The more relationships that we enter into that leave us heartbroken, the more “gun shy” we become about developing new relationships in the future. It also creates more baggage that we carry into our future relationships.
Relationships are of the utmost importance to God. God created man in His image to commune with and then made woman after noting, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Any young mother who’s ever left her small children alone with their father for a few hours can attest to this and will agree wholeheartedly! Can I get an amen?) Joking aside, God made us to need each other. In addition to that, I believe that God gave us each other to reveal more about His nature to us, and by doing so use the relationships we share with one another as a testimony to the world.
In the Trinity God reveals Himself as three persons: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. And in each of those persons, He reveals Himself in the image of three of the most vital human relationships: parent, spouse, and friend. Romans 8:15 refers to God as our “Abba Father” which translated means “Daddy, Daddy”. Verses 16 and 17 continue referring to us as His “children” and “heirs”. In the New Testament, Christ is referred to as the Bridegroom and the church as His bride. Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” In regards to the Holy Spirit, John 14:26 from The Message says, “The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you.”
So that we can better understand who God wants to be in our lives, He has laid it out in terms we can understand. As a parent, I am much more aware of my behavior to God my Father in the way that I relate to my children. This week my oldest child has called me a few times. Once when she was having an asthma attack, once when she needed me to take her to the doctor (because she still can’t drive due to an injury), once when her phone was not working correctly, and once because she wanted me to proofread an assignment she was given. Knowing how much time she spends talking to her boyfriend, upon receiving her last request, I replied, “Why don’t you ask him?” She replied, “Why would I?” Reasonable enough. While her boyfriend is a smart young man, he does not have the resources available to help in the way that I can. Yet, how many times do we put God in that same spot. We approach God as Santa Claus… “I want… I need… Can you?” without stopping to say, “Hi, Daddy. Can I just love on you and thank you for being so good to me?” On the flip side, because I love my child, with each request that she makes (and when I’m not trying to make a point), I reply, “Yes, of course.” I want her in good health. I want her to have good grades. And heaven knows, I want her to have a way to communicate with me when she does need me! Matthew 7:9-11 reads, “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” It is because of the closeness of my relationship with Dacey that she knows she can always approach me with any request. It is because she rests in my love for her just as I rest in my Heavenly Father’s love for me.
Last week as stories starting filling the internet of the heroes who helped one another during the Las Vegas massacre, one story especially caught my attention. James Warren Melton wrote this of his son and daughter-in-law: “As Sonny and Heather ran away from the sniper, he always kept his own body between the danger and his wife. A running human shield. Heather says he had his hands on her shoulders and she felt him get hit and start to fall.” Sonny’s sacrifice for his wife beautifully reflects Christ’s sacrifice for His Bride. Sonny died living out Ephesians 5:25 that says, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” In most marriage relationships, the call to lay down your life for your wife isn’t so literal. For a marriage to be successful, you have to want the good of your spouse more than the good of yourself. My husband demonstrates this by working overtime when we have a hard time making ends meet or by cooking and doing laundry when I am sick. I respond to Tommy’s love with adoration and submission (and by buying out Wal-Mart’s stock of chocolate covered cherries for him each Christmas season). Paul says in Ephesians 5:7-8, “Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” In other words, Christ died for us before we even said, “I do.” How can we not respond to this great love with anything else than full surrender?
The Holy Spirit is often the lesser talked about of the Trinity. I think that is in part because who is He to us is misunderstood. Different Bible translations refer to the Holy Spirit as our comforter, counselor, and advocate. I like that The Message translation calls him our “friend”. Proverbs 18:24 (NIV) says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” As I think of my closest friends, I can honestly say that God has blessed me good. They are there for me always. They cheer me on at my best, and grieve with me at my worst. They tell me truths I need to hear (even when I don’t want to hear it). At all times they are challenging me in my walk with God. And as they share their experiences, we grow closer to each other and closer to God. This is how the Holy Spirit works in us as well. He is that still, small voice that shows us how to respond in any given situation. He is the boldness that helps us step out in ways we never thought we could. He roots us on, encourages us, challenges us, and reveals God to us. He is our friend who sticks closer than a brother!
In every human relationship, our goals should remain the same: 1. Growing with one another into a closer walk with God, and 2. Serving as a reflection of who God is to the world. If our relationships with others do not do that, we need to step back and find out what is missing. Are you responding as a parent who wants their child to freely love God as Father, a spouse who wants only the best for your significant other, a friend who is there at all times? Do you reflect a child that loves their parent, adores your spouse, and treasures your friends. Galatians 5:6 reads, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Are the relationships you are currently in accomplishing that? If not, what are some ways that you can improve your relationships to better honor God? Begin small. Start a list of “Relationship Goals”. Pray over it and put it into action. And watch as God transforms your family, marriage, and friendships.
Have a blessed week, y’all!