I thought I’d share with you about this remarkable book I’m reading, ‘The Relationship Principles of Jesus’ by Tom Holladay of Saddleback Church. I’m still busy reading it, but there are so many good parts that I just had to start sharing some of it with you.
Now, I don’t know about you, but in many ways I’ve tried (and, I admit, failed terribly in some) to get my relationships on such a level that you can call worthy of a Christian. I become conscious again and again that without Jesus, fully relying on Him for help and guidance, admitting my weakness, and accepting the challenges my personality and temperament may pose, that my relationships would always be a mess.
I have seen some major improvements in my relationships since I’ve come to the point of receiving God’s grace and love towards me, and believe that the values in this book will help to achieve relational quality.
One thing I need to remember though: Relationship Principles can never replace Relationship with Jesus. That will always be the main connection steering my life in every sphere. Once you look away from Jesus, you look away from the person who can benefit you the most.
I’ve noted down some of the main points under Principle # 1 that really blessed me and got me thinking. I hope it does the same for you.
Principle # 1 – Place the highest value on relationships
“Relationships are painful. Relationships are wonderful. We all live in the drama that plays out between these two truths.”
“Here’s the truth Jesus taught us: Nothing is more important than relationships.”
“A life without relationships may well be a simpler life, but it is also an empty life.” How true this is!
“Place the highest value on relationships. Not on money, time, things or your work, but on relationships – first with God and then with others. “ This is one of the greatest challenges for me because I tend to be a more task-focused than person-focused.
“You’ll never change your relational priorities by continually doing an internal examination of your priorities. The only way to change your priorities is to begin to make different choices in your relationships. First we renew our priorities, and then we act on those renewed priorities.” Another one of my challenges… I tend to renew my priorities but not act on them. God help me please J
“Jesus’ life is filled with encounters that show how he balanced the needs of people and tasks before him.” (Mark 5:21-43; Mark 10:14; Mark 6:37; John 4) No matter where Jesus was heading, He always made time for the person in front of Him in need of help.
“It’s tempting to think, ‘Of course Jesus had time for people. Things weren’t as fast-paced in his culture as in ours’. The truth is, whenever tasks need to be accomplished, there is the temptation to make the task you are doing more important than the people for whom you are doing the task. In every case Jesus chose meeting a person’s need above following his schedule of tasks for that day.” Well, there you have it….
“A healthy relationship with God and healthy relationships with others have the power to keep our commitments to the things and the tasks in our lives from getting out of balance.” Wow, very true!
“What do the ways in which I spend my time and money say about the top priorities in my life?” Am I swept away by all the pretty THINGS….?
“Our goal is relationships that are transformed by the example and power of Jesus Christ.”
Jesus spent many hours alone with God, talking and listening. We can also learn from David’s example in Psalms of conversing with God honestly about your emotions and what you are struggling with.
- Talk to God about your feelings.
- Talk to God about your weaknesses.
- Talk to God about His strengths.
- Tell God your fears.
- Pour out to God the desires of your heart.
- Say out loud what you know to be true.
“Do I tell God what I feel, or do I tell him what I think He wants to hear?” Come to Him just as you are. There is no use in pretending. He knows you better than you know yourself.
“Seek Him passionately. Love Him personally.”
“Three truths to love God with all your strength:
- Have complete confidence that God can do absolutely anything (John 14:12)
- Be completely convinced that you can do absolutely nothing of ultimate and eternal significance without the power of Jesus Christ (John 15:5)
- Trust God to turn your weakness into His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)”
“There is a difference between an honest admission of weakness and a self-focused feeling of inadequacy.” OUCH!! False believe of incompetence or modesty….?
“Ask God to help you make choices of faith in spite of feelings of inadequacy.”
“I’ve never been able to feel better about myself by focusing on myself. Instead of focusing on or fighting your inadequacy, choose faith in a God who is more than adequate.” This is very encouraging! I need to remind myself of this constantly…His strength is made perfect in my weakness…
Jesus shared the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Two clear values that emerges (among others) that have to do with how we love others are:
“Loving Everyone = There is no one outside the limits of my love. I cannot limit the extent of my love.” It’s easy for us to limit our love to only certain people due to differences or fears. Let’s look beyond that and love beyond our comfort zone.
“Loving Someone = I can only practice love toward people I am with right now. I must limit the expression of my love.” One of the issues I struggle with is how to have a love for everyone while at the same time recognizing that I cannot meet everyone’s needs…
“God’s love is an everyone/everywhere/all the time kind of love; human love is a some people/some places/some of the time kind of love. Some of us are better than others at human love, but none of us are able to express God’s kind of love in our own power. That’s the point. God wants us to depend on Him for the power to love.”
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. – C. S. Lewis (from the book, The Four Loves)”
“The one relationship you can truly count on is your relationship to Jesus Christ. Lean on your relationship to him as you take the risk to love others. Others may disappoint you – but Jesus will never fail you.”
“How did Jesus love? He didn’t spend all night making to-do lists of which people he would show love to the next day. He didn’t have some kind of prioritization grid through which everyone who wanted his love had to pass. He simply loved people as the opportunity arose during the normal traffic patterns of his life.”
“Consistent love can only be expressed one opportunity at a time. To follow Jesus’ example is to make the choice to love in the opportunities that arise in the everyday journey of life. Love the few you can love today trusting in the greatness of God that he will put the right people in your path on the journey of life.”
“Jesus’ example: His choice to spend time alone with God in order to be able to love others better. His choice to recharge and renew his heart and strength. (Luke 5:15-16)” Very important…
“If you are going to have healthy relationships, you’ll need to spend time alone with God. Those who have the healthiest relationships often are the most comfortable in being alone with God. What you gain from time alone with God will strengthen every relationship in your life.”
“How do you make love the highest priority when there is so much to do in your life?”
I’m still pondering about this, but a few verses that has a major influence on this answer for me is 1 Corinthians 13:13 in the Amplified: “love – true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us” and 1 Corinthians 14:1 in the Message: “Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it – because it does.”So far I’m leaning towards firstly receiving God’s love for me. As I continue to receive His love for me, it transforms my heart into God’s heart for people, and then Christ in me wants to reach out to love and help others. But, as I said, still pondering….
Did some of these thoughts and questions get you thinking about your relationships? With God and others?
Let me know and let’s share and grow in love together…
(next time…Principle #2 – Love as Jesus loves you…..)