Life Is About Relationships
I often think about the Bible and people. One thing that re-occurs is relationships. There goes Abraham and Isaac to the mountain. Here comes Jacob to be with Joseph. They have been separated for years and now in the last years of Jacob’s life, he and Joseph are reunited. Ruth told Naomi, “I will stay with you.” Ruth took care of her mother-in-law.
In the New testament, Paul has Timothy. Also, Barnabas helps John Mark. We cannot forget about the twelve, even though there were times they were competitive with each other. Apollos is eloquent, but receives the help offered by Aquila and Priscilla.
And of course, there is the ultimate relationship we have with Jesus the Savior. He is not only our Savior, but He is our older brother. That is mind-blowing.
Consider: relationships require maintenance. Healthy relationships are mutual and serve the best interest of the other. They are not always easy. When we get twisted with one another it takes effort to get things straightened out. It is not always easy to turn the other cheek. It is easy to talk about the Golden Rule. “Do unto others what we would have them do unto us” is hard. If we are not careful, it can turn out to be “do unto others before they do unto you.” No matter the relationship, somebody sacrifices for the good of the relationship. That is true in marriage. We say the “two shall be one,” but it takes the rest of our lives to get there. Figuratively, the local church is made up of a nose, ear, foot and an eye. None can say they are the most important. Each has their function. Each is necessary for the good of the other. When the relationship is harmonious, it is like a symphony where all sound as one.
Relationships require appreciation. “I will gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved” (2 Cor. 12:15). Paul had spent himself for the good of the Corinthians only to have them fail to support him when challenged by the “most eminent apostles.” He had done miracles among them. They were behind no one. Yet, in spite of all Paul had done with and for them, they did not stand up for him when they should have. How often is that the case? Do we really appreciate the sacrifice of our parents? The parents lay up for the children, not the children for the parents (2 Cor. 12:14). They sacrifice time, money, and hours of worry and are not appreciated. Instead of “thank you,” it is “give me more.” Appreciation is often greatly desired but seldom given by those who have been beneficiaries. No matter, we keep spending ourselves.
Relationships require affirmation, too. We all want affirmation. Affirmation says, “I value you.” We show that value by taking the lead in putting the other first (Rom. 12:10). We demonstrate that affirmation by words of praise and acts of affection. A good pat on the back goes a long way. Acts of affection show kindness and investment. They show effort and heart. Paul praised Epaphroditus. He showed his brotherly love for him sending him back home so he could be with his people. Epaphroditus had comforted Paul on behalf of the Philippians. Now it was Paul’s turn to comfort them, as well as Epaphroditus by sending him home. Affirmation provides encouragement, mentally and spiritually.
Let’s face it, people are all there are. About the time we get put out with others, we might remember others have to put up with us, too. Christ gave His life for the souls of people. That makes each one of us of eminent value. If we were loved enough for Him to sacrifice, then what is it for me to follow His example and sacrifice for others?
Isaac could have told his dad, “I’m not going.” Joseph could have left Jacob where he was. Ruth could have told Naomi to “take a hike.” Timothy could have said, “Paul, you are a little bossy and controlling.” Barnabas could have called John Mark a big baby. Apollos could have told Aquila and Priscilla, “I am eloquent. I don’t need your help.” But instead, each one worked to build and maintain their relationship. They also showed one another a level of appreciation. They put the other before themselves, affirming them and their value.