Everyone has hit that wall.
Why bother with other people?
- A husband or wife decides it’s not worth opening up to their spouse anymore after years of criticism, bickering and hurtful words.
- An employee goes to work, shuts his door, and only comes out when it’s time to go home, hoping to avoid any interaction with co-workers.
- A teenager comes home from school and goes to her room until she is coaxed (or threatened) to join the family for dinner.
- Family gatherings are reduced to relatives sharing the same geographical space, devoid of any meaningful interaction.
- Neighbors live side by side for years, but no one has taken the time to initiate a personal relationship.
- Someone probably dropped out of a small group this week because they didn’t think it was worth the hassle.
What about you? Have you reached a point in one of your relationships where you’re wondering if it’s worth the struggle?
It’s tempting to think that if God truly cared for us, he would make our relationships easier. In reality, a hard relationship is a mark of his love and care. The very thing we would naturally seek to avoid is what God chooses to make us more like him.
We would prefer for the Lord to miraculously change a relationship, but he won’t be content until the relationship changes us. This is how God created relationships to function.
What happens in the messiness of relationships is that our hearts are revealed, our weaknesses are exposed, and we start coming to the end of ourselves. Only when this happens do we reach out for the help that God alone can provide.
Weak and needy people finding their hope in Christ’s grace is what marks a mature relationship. The most dangerous aspect of your relationships is not your weakness, but your delusions of strength. Self-reliance is almost always a component of a bad relationship.
Likewise, one of the biggest impediments that we face in relationships is our spiritual blindness. We frequently do not see our sin, nor do we see the many ways in which God protects us and others from it. God constantly protects us from ourselves by restraining our sin.
Isn’t it amazing that people get along at all? Each night the evening news begins with a litany of divorces, robberies, rapes, and murders which suggest that all people are dangerous, all the time. Yet it often fails to cite the millions of good things people do for each other to make our world a liveable place.
Our view of relationships can be just as slanted. We tend to only see sins, weaknesses, and failures, rather than the good things God is accomplishing.
How are you viewing your potential for healthy, God-honoring relationships? Do you measure the size of the problems or the magnitude of God’s presence and the power of his transforming grace?
If you look for God in your relationships, you will always find things for which to be thankful.
1. Which relationship in your immediate family are you struggling with most right now?
2. Which relationship outside of your family are you struggling with most right now?
3. In both relationships, what are some of the sins, weakenesses, and failures that you may be contributing?
4. In both relationships, what is the other person doing that agitates or hurts you?
5. Why do both relationships have hope because of the Gospel? How can you, practically, apply that hope to those relationships this week?