by Mariana Crompton
Relationships, as we have all discovered, can make life near amazing or almost unbearable. They provide songwriters with material for countless lyrics, awakening warm fuzzy feelings or the downhearted blues. From as early as when we are in our mother’s womb we are taught lessons about life and relationships – whether they be positive or negative. These lessons have an affect on the way we relate to God and to people, be it our own parents, in-laws, husband, children, family, colleagues, friends or just in general.
I have found that when it comes to healthy relationships, there is no one-size-fits-all piece of advice, but rather a pattern that God has laid out for us in His Word. A good relationship is more than something we want, it is something we need in order to be our happiest, healthiest and most productive selves. However, at home or at work, supportive, fulfilling relationships don’t happen automatically. They require an investment of our time and energy, as well as social skills, that are learned.
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR FAMILY
When we are born we are naturally selfish and self-centred, which is the root of sin. However, it is within the sanctuary of a healthy home that we are taught how to live unselfishly, forgive easily, keep short accounts and live a people-centred life – which is the recipe for a happy life. Unfortunately though, the value of honour and respect is steadily diminishing in modern homes.
Children learn far more from what you do than from what you say. When mom and dad treat each other, their children, their own parents as well as other people with love and respect, the children will treat one another and others in the same way. When making time for one another and listening to each other – laughing together, eating together, never making the other feel as if they are in any way a burden – parents peruse the path to a secure and happy home.
Many people bring children into the world and provide a roof over their heads and food and clothes for their bodies, but further abdicate the role of parenting. Parenting is consistently and daily training your children, teaching them how to live and function in life so that they become godly, hardworking, positive and productive members of society. A parent needs to consistently and firmly, but lovingly, correct a child when needed. Children must be taught to treat other people with dignity and respect, and must learn how to someday function healthily within their own families. Loving discipline results in obedient, secure and happy children.
The Bible says so beautifully in Proverbs 22:6, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” This very definitely, but not exclusively, refers to a child’s spiritual life. If you don’t make God and church-life an integral part of your values for living, neither will your child as he or she grows up.
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD’S FAMILY:
I have actively been part of a church family my whole life and love the close-knit family of God. Has it had it’s challenges and disappointments? Of course it has, but if I had to do it all over again I would have it no other way. It has been the path to life in super-overflowing abundance. Actively being part of the local church family has matured me and shaped me into a woman of God. As Hebrews 10:23 reads, “ Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Being in relationship with God means being in relationship with His Body. He is the head, and the head cannot function without the Body. John writes in 1 John 4:11 , “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. Functioning in a local church and being part of God’s family is God’s plan. No-one can say to the other, “I don’t need you,” because we do need each other.
As John 13:34 reads, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” We must learn to interact with love and respect, knowing there will be times when we will be hurt and disappointed and that people will fail us, but that love will always win.
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY:
Whether we are rich or poor we all have a relationship with money. As in all relationships we need to respect money, as this will affect the way we use it. This means that we value what we have and we appreciate each cent and use it wisely. However, the fact remains, whether you are rich or poverty-stricken when you love money, money controls you, you do not control it, money uses you, you do not use money. In Timothy 6:10 we read that the love of money, not the money itself, is mankind’s problem: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” Furthermore, Hebrews 13:5 reads, “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’”
When we are free of the love of money we are able to function as God does who so loved us that He gave His most precious possession, He generously gave us His Son. When I am free from the love of money I can trust Him with my money, I can trust Him to supply my need, I can trust Him with my life and I am free to live, free to love, free to give and free from anxiety.
OUR RELATIONSHIP TO AND WITH GOD
Everything starts here. I believe that when our relationship with God is in right-standing and healthy – when I not only ‘know about Him’ but have an intimate knowledge of Him and who He is, who He is in me as well as who I am in Him – something changes in my relationship with people.
Yes, I realise there will always be challenges in relating to others. After all, we are different people from diverse backgrounds who have varied life experiences and unique personalities. We come from different cultural backgrounds that can so easily lead to misunderstandings when we struggle to understand why those around us say and do the things they do. This often results in hurt and offence, but when Jesus is in the centre of our lives, His way of doing and being right – which is righteousness – bridges the divides and obstacles which seem insurmountable. The result is unlikely friendships being forged and lives that are both colourful and have meaning.
In conclusion, considering the above, this year’s Arise conference is going to be an exciting journey throughout the weekend where we honestly deal with sometimes unexpected aspects of life that affect and have an effect on the most important aspect of life. This life-aspect brings the most joy and fulfillment, but at times causes the most real hurt and sorrow – RELATIONSHIPS. This year is going to be awesome. Come and enjoy the journey, you won’t be sorry.