Dealing with fear (5)

2021-03-19
Psalm 27:1 NKJV

Relationships. Social anxiety is a very common fear, and it can have an impact on our relationships with others, whether that’s relationships with family, friends, work colleagues, or even just a random interaction with someone we don’t know. We can worry about what other people think about us, we worry about doing something stupid, or what others might say to us or about us. Our fears of being hurt or humiliated can lead us to avoid other people and distance ourselves.

But God designed us to be part of a community, where we can draw on the love and support of others: ‘Let us not neglect our meeting together…but encourage one another’ (Hebrews 10:25 NLT). When the fear of other people’s opinions means we try to be something we’re not, we reject what God created us to be. If we find we’re having to pretend in order to fit in with a group of people or to maintain a friendship, it’s probably worth asking God if we’re surrounding ourselves with the right people. Proverbs 29:25 says: ‘Being afraid of people can get you into trouble, but if you trust the LORD, you will be safe’ (NCV).

Our worth isn’t based on what other people think of us, it’s based on what God thinks of us – and He loves us unconditionally. We need to hold on to that fact whenever we feel social anxiety building. Let’s choose to rely on God’s opinion and God’s love before anyone else’s, and join in with the psalmist’s words: ‘The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’ (Psalm 27:1 NKJV).

Job 21-23; Matt 24:15-25; Ps 116:12-19; Prov 8:10-13

Focus on the solution not the problem

2021-02-27
Isaiah 30:15 NKJV

As problems arise in your relationships, you’ll be forced to become a translator, negotiator, diplomat, and peacekeeper. And good communication skills are essential. Nothing is more frustrating than being misunderstood, misheard, ignored, or misconstrued.

But talking isn’t always the answer. Sometimes it empowers the problem. Our mistake is we often give too much verbiage to the issue; in other words, we talk about it when we should be quiet and focus on a solution. God has given you the gifts you need to change the situation. Don’t talk about it; instead, do it! If we misuse words or talk out of hand, it can lead us away from a solution we would otherwise see. James tells us that what we say has immense power for destruction. “The tongue…a little member…boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth” (James 3:5 KJV). Just our tone of voice can escalate a conversation into a raging fire! Don’t be the person with flames coming out of your mouth. Tame your tongue. Grab hold of the situation when it arises and bring light and life to it! Our conversations are to be seasoned with grace (See Colossians 4:6). Speak positively, because God is still on the throne and He has a plan.

Responding appropriately often requires quietness, then careful reflection. And sometimes it’s better just to remain quiet. When you’re anxious, chances are you’ll overtalk. When you’re angry, you’ll make the situation worse. And when you’re too aggressive, you’ll lose instead of winning. The Bible says, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” And that’s a scriptural principle that always works.

Soul food: Gen 28:1-30:24; Matt 19:1-14; Ps 66:1-12; Prov 6:20-22

Responding appropriately


Isaiah 30:15 NCV

In most relationships, we’ll encounter problems and conflict at some point. As those difficulties arise, we’ll often need to become translators, negotiators, diplomats, and peacekeepers in order to find a solution. And at times like these, good communication skills are essential.

It’s really frustrating to be misunderstood, misheard, or ignored. But we have to be careful how we approach it. We need to talk to understand each person’s perspective on what’s gone wrong, but sometimes we can end up empowering the problem if we focus too much on talking about what’s wrong rather than working towards finding a solution.

God has given us the gifts we need to change the situation. If we misuse our words or let them come from a place of anger, it can lead us away from a solution we would otherwise see. James tells us that what we say has immense power for destruction. ‘The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire’ (James 3:5 NLT). Just our tone of voice can escalate a conversation into a raging fire, but our words can also bring calmness and light to a difficult situation.

Responding appropriately often needs quietness and careful reflection. There are times when it’s better to remain quiet and step away from the situation for a few minutes. When we’re anxious, chances are we’ll over-talk. When we’re angry, we can make the situation worse. And when we’re too aggressive, we risk damaging the relationship and hurting the other people involved. The Bible says, ‘If you will be calm and trust me, you will be strong.’ Let’s remember that whenever we need to have a difficult conversation.

Gen 28:1-30:24;Matt 19:1-14; Ps 66:1-12; Prov 6:20-22

Be flexible

2021-02-26
Philippians 2:4 NKJV

When it comes to the truth, you should be unbending. But when it comes to relationships, you must learn to be flexible. If you always need to be “right” and make the other person “wrong,” you’ll never enjoy stable, long-lasting relationships.

One author writes: “We will not last together because we were never wrong. We will last because when we were wrong, we found the invincible will to correct the wrong and the grace to endure whatever it took to survive it together. Our families are never perfect, but that doesn’t mean we cannot find a way to make it across the tumultuous seas onto the shores of love and life. Coming from backgrounds with different traditions and conflicting ideas, we bring baggage and unrealistic expectations to our relationships whether we are conscious of it or not.”

So what should you do? He continues: “Create in yourself an openness to change and an understanding that much correction will be needed for what you will face together. Make this attitude your charter for how you will operate as a couple. Always be willing to recalibrate your relationship to ensure that decisions made at one stage of life now fit the growth and maturity of the present.”

Do you know what the biggest problem in our relationships is? Selfishness! We want to have things our own way. But that’s not the scriptural way. The Bible says, “Let each of you look out not only for his [or her] own interests, but also for the interests of others.” When you live with that kind of mind-set, you’ll enjoy rich, rewarding relationships.

Soul food: Gen 25:19-27:46; Matt 18:21-35; Ps 61; Prov 6:16-19

Be flexible


Philippians 2:4 NCV

When it comes to our relationships with other people, we need to learn to be flexible. There are times when we need to stand firm, but if we find we always need to be ‘right’ and make the other person ‘wrong’, we’ll struggle to build stable, long-lasting friendships and relationships. One author writes: ‘We will not last together because we were never wrong. We will last because when we were wrong, we found the invincible will to correct the wrong and the grace to endure whatever it took to survive it together.’

Our relationships are made up of imperfect people with their own ideas and opinions, and with different backgrounds, experiences, and expectations – it’s inevitable that we’ll disagree from time to time, no matter how well we usually get on. The key is to accept that we won’t always agree, and then be willing to work together to find a solution, open to change, and prepared to meet others halfway.

Jesus demonstrated this attitude at the wedding at Cana. When the wine ran out, Mary wanted Jesus to do something about it. He replied: ‘My time has not yet come’ (John 2:4 NCV). It wasn’t the right time for Him to reveal to everyone what He could do, but rather than completely refusing to help, He carried out Mary’s request quietly and subtly.

The root of many problems in relationships is selfishness. We like to get our own way. But that’s not how the Bible encourages us to live. Philippians 2:4 says: ‘Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others’ (NCV). When we’re concerned for others as well as ourselves, we’ll find it easier to co-operate and find some middle ground when disagreements happen.

Gen 25:19-27:46; Matt 18:21-35; Ps 61; Prov 6:16-19