The essential foundation for all good relationships is love. As we learn to walk in it, we can expect to experience the maximum benefit of relating to others.
Everywhere we go we are in relationship with other people--at home, at work, at church. Being involved in good relationships is one of the things that makes our lives enjoyable. But in order to experience the fullest potential they have to offer, we must build them on a strong foundation.
I have discovered that the strongest foundation for good relations is love. Jesus said, "By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves]" (John 13:35, The Amplified Bible). As we learn to walk in love in our relationships, we can give up our fight to be right, become a good student of others and discover the best approach in dealing with people in any situation.
THE FOUNDATION FOR GOOD RELATIONS I used to feel as if I was fighting the devil from daylight till dark, seven days a week. One morning about 11 years ago I discovered that the primary reason for my struggle was that I wasn't walking in love.
My husband, Dave, and I had just returned from doing a conference. We went to McDonald's to have some coffee and read our mail. Both of us were very tired.
When I'm tired, I like to sit in the sun to be revived. But in order to sit in the sun, we needed to sit in one of the booths near the windows, and by the time we arrived, there was only one left. So Dave said, "You go get the booth, and I'll go get the coffee."
As I started walking, I saw out of the corner of my eye a little old man heading for the same booth. I stepped up my pace a bit and beat him to it. Fortunately, he knew the lady who was sitting in the booth right behind us and asked if he could sit with her.
She answered, "Yeah, you can sit here. She beat you to it, huh?"
The worst part of the story is that the man was crippled.
God convicted me right then and there. "Aren't you cute?" He asked me. "Here you are, a born-again, baptized-in-the-Holy-Ghost preacher, in the middle of teaching an 'anointed' series on love, and you're racing a crippled man for the last seat at McDonald's!"
This incident helped me realize that I wasn't walking in love. True love prefers other people and allows them to go first. Love will let somebody else have something, even if it's the last one available. Love is not self-seeking (see 1 Cor. 13:5).
In order to truly walk in love, we must get our minds off ourselves and focus on others and their needs. We can have bumper stickers, Jesus pins, teaching tapes and countless Christian books, but if the people we come in contact with can't see love in our actions, our claim to be "Christian" is of little value.
Colossians 3:12-14 says, "Clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience...And above all these [put on] love."
The only way that we can put on love is by choice. Just as our clothes don't jump off the hangers and onto our body, love doesn't just jump out of the Bible and into our character. We must choose to put it on every day; this is our part. But God is the One who gives us the strength to walk it out.
First Thessalonians 5:23-24 tells us it is the God of peace Himself who sanctifies and separates us from profane things--such as the tendency to be selfish and self-centered. Through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, we have the ability to carry out Christ's commandment to love one another.
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