Do you want to experience better relationships? Who doesn’t!
The best place to start, as with all things, is with Scripture. But be ready—what you find might be different than what you were initially seeking.
Read Colossians 3:12–14:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (ESV)
Read that a second time.
First, this passage defines our need. We were not designed to live the Christian life on our own. We must all come to understand and accept that our walks with God are community projects.
Second, this passage confronts our ownership. Our relationships don’t belong to us; they belong to God. We cannot allow ourselves to have an owner’s view of our relationships as if they exist for the sole purpose of our happiness.
Third, this passage defines our identity. Where does the Apostle Paul get his character list from? The answer is that these are the traits of Christ. Paul is figuratively telling us to “put on” Christ.
Finally, this passage defines our calling. God has a purpose for you in all of your relationships. It is that you would live as one of his representatives; that is, that you would live representatively.
Who are you representing? You are called to represent your Savior King.
What does that practically look like? Representing the King means you represent his message, his methods, and his character.
Representing the King’s message means that you look at every situation through the lens of the truth of Scripture and determine to help others look at life that way too. How does the Truth help me make sense of this moment, and how can I share that truth with the other person?
Representing the King’s methods means that you seek to be a tool of gospel change in the life of another person. How would the King work to mature this person, and how can I be part of that methodology and process?
Lastly, representing the character of the King means asking yourself, “What aspect of the Lord Jesus Christ does this person need to see in the situation that he or she is now in, and how can I incarnate that love?”
Other people are never about our wants, feelings, and desires. God has not designed your relationships to be vehicles for human happiness but as instruments of ministry and redemption.
The Bible presents a “bigger-purpose-than-my-happiness” way of living when interacting with others.
And when you give up your self-centered agenda, you’ll find more joy, peace, and fulfillment in your relationships than you could have ever imagined!
1. Are there any relationships that you are treating as if you are the owner? How is that harmful to you and the other person?
2. Are you asking another person to be the source of your happiness? How have they failed to be that in the past?
3. Which character trait from Colossians 3:12–14 do you need to “put on” the most?
4. Do you need to forgive someone currently? Why might it be a struggle for you?
5. Pick one relationship in your life. How can you represent the message, method, and character of the King this week? Be specific in your application.