Valentine’s Day is another great reminder about the love that we show to each other. Although it’s typically celebrated between couples and expressed in intimate and affectionate ways, love is a requirement for any good and lasting relationship. Often times we don’t connect the dots between our relationship with others and our relationship with God. But since one allows us to have the other, having a great relationship with God FIRST, and understanding God’s model for our relationships, helps us to be better boyfriends, girlfriends, sons, daughters, husbands and wives, colleagues, family, and just friends altogether.
Our relationships go to another level when we see and understand people as God sees them. These pillars apply to every kind of relationship, guy to girl, husband to wife, parent to child, and friend to friend.
.: 1 A Renewed Mind, Romans 12:1-2
God calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (thinking), daily. This renewing is a “gradual conforming to God’s perspective.” We can’t take old and broken mindsets into new endeavors and relationships, because it doesn’t advance us forward or help us others.
Relationship Point: When we allow God to renew our thinking about other people, it helps us to see and value them as God does. If we can strive to give others the love and appreciation that God gives to us, we’re going to win with them. God knows how to love us – value people as He does.
.: 2 Grace, Romans 12:3
Grace is God acting on our behalf, freely giving to us what we don’t deserve. Grace should produce a gratefulness in our heart that appreciates those in our lives for who they are, valuing them as God values them.
Relationship Point: Because God gives us grace, daily, we should extend that grace to others and those we love. If grace is how God responds to our failures again and again, we should be willing to do the same when people fail us; regardless of whether or not we feel that they “deserve” it. Those with a gracious heart build others up, not tear them down, even when they fail, disappoint or hurt us. Relationships are about building, so build up!
.: 3 Humility, Romans 12:3, 16
‘Humility is the foundation for all of the other relational qualities.’ Humility is thinking of others first and “thinking of ourselves within the context of everyone else.” In other words, asking yourself how you fit into their world. Pride thinks of self first and often times only self. You were made to relate and be in relationship, not be a deserted island.
Relationship Point: Think of yourself with respect to others – putting them before yourself. Be willing to admit when you’re wrong and others are right. Accept who you are and who are you not, and be willing to do the same for others. Humility is willing to be known for who you really are. People with great relationships appreciate and HONOR the differences in each other.
.: 4 Celebrating Diversity, Romans 12:4-8
The body of Christ is likened to a physical body that has hands, feet and many parts. Each playing its role and supporting the rest of the body. Likewise, we should celebrate our differences and support each other.
Relationship Point: When we value people as God values them, we value their uniqueness and love and support them in it. “Pride requires everyone to be like us.” God has designed relationships to be dependent on each other, regardless of the kind of relationship. We each offer something that the other doesn’t. Respect and honor your differences, it’s lot funnier too! 😉
.: 5 Love, Romans 12:9-10
This sounds like a no-brainer, but is also so misunderstood. Love is not a mere emotion, it’s a choice. Dave Buehring adds a great understanding to that and says that love is choosing someone else’s highest good. We can’t say that we love God and not love those (by choosing to show it) around us that we’re in relationship with.
Relationship Point:“We are not called to act lovingly – we are called to love, to sincerely love each other.” The bible says to let our love be genuine. Genuine love is devoted, giving and self-sacrificing. We are known by Christ in how we love others.
.: 6 Honor, Romans 12:10
Honor is recognizing a person’s value and your expression of it to them. To the degree that you honor others, God will honor you! Honoring someone is treating them like something that is very important to you – it shows. Although honor is earned for our character and performance, we should always honor people for who they are, valuing them and their life as God does. He made them, and He cares, no matter what they’ve done.
Relationship Point: The bible tells us to outdo each other in showing honor as a means to create and maintain great relationships. It’s a cycle of mutual appreciation that builds both people up, not just the other person. Treat people with importance for who they are (as God sees them). We honor people through acceptance, affirming their gifts and strengths, showing appreciation for them, commending them for their conduct, admiration, and acknowledging them before others.
.: 7 Joy and Patience, Romans 12:12
The bible encourages us to rejoice in hope. And without hope, what kind of a relationship can we have? People like being around joyful and hopeful people that have something to look forward to and can help them see great things to look forward too.
Relationship Point: A joyful and hopeful attitude attracts and keeps people in your life. You share that joy just by being the true you, no extra needed. Patience helps us to keep our joy in the tough times that come to every relationship – and they will. Challenges are opportunities to grow in your relationship(s), not destroy them. “Patience expresses our trust in God and our love for one another.”
.: 8 Prayer, Romans 12:12
Prayer actively involves God in the details of your relationship(s). Being constant in prayer helps us to be better for each other, every day. It matters!
Relationship Point: When we pray for others that we are in relationship with, it creates a “spiritual bond” or “heart-link” that helps us grow together, serve each other better and navigate life together. Prayer allows us to bear the burdens of those that we’re in relationship with, especially for situations where we can’t do anything more, physically or emotionally to help them. But we can always pray!
.: 9 Sharing, Romans 12:13
Relationships are about giving. God has given us what we have to be shared, not selfishly held onto. We have so much, tangible and intangible, that we can give to better those that we’re in relationship with and help meet their needs. Understanding their needs also means that we take the time to get to know them. Jesus got to know people.
Relationship Point: If you not willing to give and put others first, your relationships will suffer. When you approach your relationships with a giving mindset, helping to meet their needs, you will win with them and please God. He’s always here for us, but He’s also given us things so that we can there for each other also. You may not have a lot to give in terms of stuff, but your smile, time and care will make a world of a difference! A helping help says love louder than anything.
.: 10 Blessings, Romans 12:14
Hurt people hurt other people. And 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Jesus tells us to love those that mistreat us and even bless and pray for them because they do so. The irony of relationships is that those closest to us often hurt us the most. As hurt and angry, frustrated, disrespected and betrayed as we might feel in our relationships sometimes, that’s not how we should act back towards them. Even if they do deserve it, God calls us to a higher standard and to remember to value them as He does.
Relationship Point: Those we’re in relationship with come to know God, or know Him better, through us. If we’re reflecting the hate that’s being directed at us, we can’t be reflecting the God in us at the same time. God wants us to reflect Him so that those who we are in relationship with, or will come to be in relationship with one day, will see Him for who He really is, and be won over to Him. People see Jesus through us. It’s easy to be hurt and angry about someone doing you wrong, and not easy to overlook it and move on. What keeps me is knowing that in it all, I’m reflecting God – I have to remember that. And am I reflecting something that He would be proud of? And if this is a relationship that I want to keep, am I setting an example of what’s right vs how I feel? Return a curse with a blessing. It’s hard to continually hate and be mean to someone who refuses to give you hate back. Be the standard in your relationship. You are the blessing!
.: 11 Understanding & Trust, Romans 12:15
We as people all have a basic need to be understood. “People won’t feel understood unless they can reveal themselves to you, and they won’t do that until they trust you.” Do the people that you have relationships with feel as though they can reveal themselves to you because they can trust you or feel that you will understand them?
Relationship Point: Being able to understand people that we have relationships with requires us to take the focus off of ourselves. It’s seeking to understand before being understood. It means meeting them where they are. Relationships all of kinds fail because of unmet, and often misunderstood, expectations. Understanding happens through great communication, being a great listener and communicating back in a way that shows you understand and most of all, care.
Trust, like humility, is a pillar for relationships because without it, the relationship cannot stand. “Trust is fragile and must be built one step at a time through honesty, truth, faithfulness, and responsibility.”
.: 12 Harmony, Romans 12:16-21
Harmony wants to bring unity, while pride (thinking of self only) brings division. The bible tells warns us not to be so proud that we can’t enjoy or overlook the people that everyone else overlooks. Harmony means getting along with everyone, not looking for revenge, but doing all that you can to keep the peace. “Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” – Romans 12:21
Relationship Point:“Harmony may mean accepting ‘humble duties’ for the purpose of serving others.” Relationships are about giving, and giving requires sacrifice and compromise in every relationship. The bible emphasizes to do these things in “so far as it depends on you.” We will always encounter and be in relationship with people that are difficult to get along with at times, but we have to do our part. Some may confess that it doesn’t matter what I do, because they will always… It matters what you do! Our relationship with others should be an overflow of our relationship with God. Healthy relationships lead to a happier life!
.: 13 God Factor, 1st John 3:1
I thought that this was a good one to add to Dave’s original 12 as it’s been alluded to throughout this writing. When we have a great relationship with God, it sets the order for ALL of our other relationships with everyone else – it’s just that simple. The bible tells us that there is a kind of love that comes from God, a love that only God can give.
Relationship Point: There’s a great saying that God doesn’t want all of your time, He wants priority. And when we put God in His proper place, it sets the tone everything else. When it comes to relationships, there is a place in our hearts that only God can fill. Many of us have a “love deficit” brought on by hurt or some disconnection with God. All too often, we can’t experience happiness in our relationships with people because our God factor is missing or lacking. Many people turn to multiple partners, can’t be satisfied with just one girl or guy, drugs, alcohol, sex, money, food – anything to try and fill that void. Even the devil wants the place that is reserved for God in your heart, but nothing that you can try will fill His space. If God is love, then we need to be right with Him if our other relationships are going to succeed.
God has a lot to say about relationships that we can apply with everyone in our life. I want to thank my good friend and discipleship leader, Dave Buerhring, for allowing me to share these principles and notes from his book, A Discipleship Journey. Relationships are foundational to doing and being what God’s called us to be. I invite you to attend this year’s d4 Discipleship Conference with me in Nashville, TN where we’ll learn about this and so much more! God’s plan for life is not easy, but it works!
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