1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
When we’re in a relationship, we’re one half of a team. And that team, through commitment, love and communication, can be really strong. We’re not two individuals competing with each other, but a team working together. We bring our own individuality, and we shouldn’t lose who we are, but we become part of a team which is all about support, comfort and encouragement. And that doesn’t only apply to our day-to-day lives and stresses. This also applies to our faith. In Hebrews it says: ‘Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds’ (10:24 NCV). So how can we help each other to grow in our relationships with God? There’s the obvious answers like pray together, read the Bible together and go to church together. But we can also be honest and accountable about our faith, pray for each other and share what God tells us, lovingly point out where something is not quite God’s best and help them to look to God for answers to the things they’re struggling with. But we must remember that we’re not responsible for the spiritual growth of our partner, we’re only responsible for our own. God can use us to help them on their journey, but there should be no pressure and no judgement. The Bible tells us to ‘encourage one another and build each other up.’ So in our relationships, let’s be people who encourage and help people to grow in their relationship with God. But let’s also not forget that our relationship with God comes above everything else. Our relationships shouldn’t be preventing our own individual spiritual growth.
Exo 20:12; Jer 35:1-19; Prov 1:8; John 19:25-27
Matthew 18:15 NIV
For a relationship to be successful, we need to have good communication with each other. Without sharing our thoughts and feelings with the other person, we won’t get very far. In fact, we may just end up resentful and bitter because the other person didn’t do what we expected them to. But without telling them what we need, we can’t expect them to know. And if we don’t tell someone when something they’ve done has hurt us, we can’t expect them to apologise or change their behaviour. In today’s society, communication has reached new levels. We can now talk to hundreds of people through social media. And we need to be careful what we’re saying about our relationships when we’re online. Let’s not post about what’s going wrong in our relationships or what’s annoying us about our partner. That’s not helpful for the situation or honouring towards them. We need to make sure we’re raising issues in our relationships, and raising them in the right way. The Bible says: ‘If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you’ (Matthew 18:15 NIV). Sometimes we need to ask the advice of others outside of the relationship, but let’s be wise about when we do this and who we talk to. Once we’ve raised an issue within our relationship, we need to be willing to forgive. The Bible says: ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other’ (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). No one is perfect and no relationship is perfect. People will make mistakes. If we’re going to make a relationship work, and this applies to friendships too, then we need to be prepared to communicate and forgive others.
Num 16-18; Matt 12:15-21; Ps 107:33-43; Prov 3:27-28
Philippians 4:8 NLT
In order to change your life, you must first change your thinking. And that’s not easy when you’ve spent your life thinking a certain way. Minister and columnist Dr. Frank Crane said, “Our best friends and our worst enemies are our thoughts.” King Solomon put it this way: “As [a man] thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7 NAS). To change your thinking, you must do it – one thought at a time. That calls for discipline and determination. But it’s worth it. If you wanted to compete in a marathon you wouldn’t go on an all-candy diet, would you? The fuel you put into something determines its performance. Yet we disregard this basic piece of wisdom: What you feed everything else is nothing compared to what you feed your mind! Here’s a truth that will transform you: Think excellent thoughts! What enters your mind repeatedly, occupies it, shapes it, controls it, and in the end expresses itself in what you do and who you become. Your mind will absorb and reflect whatever it’s exposed to. The events you attend, the relationships you build, the materials you read or don’t read, the music you listen to, the media images you’re exposed to, the conversations you engage in, and the thoughts you entertain all shape your mind, and eventually your character and your destiny. So what should you do? Start each day by praying: “Lord, I want the kind of mind Your Word describes. One that’s filled with excellent, admirable, honorable, praiseworthy thoughts” (See Philippians 4:8). Can you imagine what your life would be like if you constantly prayed that way and programmed your thinking accordingly?
Soul food: Exo 22-24; John 2:12-25; Ps 89:15-37; Prov 26:20-22
James 3:16 NIV
Paul wrote: ‘Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand’ (Philippians 2:2-4 MSG). Conflict can cause problems in our relationships. When we start to think higher of ourselves than we should, we can end up in relationships that are full of comparing, competing, and condemning. So when disorder starts to appear, we need to counteract what’s causing it with love, humility and selflessness. The Bible says: ‘Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many’ (Hebrews 12:15 NLT). Even though it can be really hard, we need to be trying to live in harmony with others. When God prompts us to ‘turn the other cheek’, or be the first to apologise or put someone else’s needs above our own, He’ll give us the grace and wisdom we need to be able to do it. ‘The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and…good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness’ (James 3:17-18 NLT). While some conflict can be constructive, conflict that is rooted in selfishness and jealousy needs to be avoided. Instead, we need to be peacemakers.
2 Sam 3:22-7:17; Mat 25:14-30; Ps 118:1-9; Prov 18:4-6
James 3:16 NLT
The apostle Paul writes: “Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (Philippians 2:2-4 TM). Strife wreaks havoc in relationships. It often stems from an inflated ego and leads to comparing, competing, and condemning. James points that out: “Where…strife is, there is…every evil work.” So be a strife-spotter! The moment it rears its ugly head – uproot it! “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many” (Hebrews 12:15 NLT). If you want to walk in God’s blessing today, try to live in harmony with others. Is that always easy? No, but the sooner you learn to do it, the better things will go for you. When God prompts you to “turn the other cheek,” or “take the short end of the stick,” draw on His grace and do it. Pray: “Lord, give me Your wisdom in this situation.” He will. “The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:17-18 NLT). Bottom line: If you want God’s blessing on your life – avoid strife.
Soul food: 2 Sam 3:22-7:17; Mat 25:14-30; Ps 118:1-9; Prov 18:4-6