By Dr. Ted Baehr
God and everyone who loves Him are very concerned about relationships.
In Galatians 5:1,13-25, Paul stresses to love your neighbor and then he condemns division. He goes on to point out three categories of sin: sensual sins, spiritual sins and relationship sins. He lists three sensual sins, three spiritual sins and nine relationship sins. In other words, relationships are important.
Paul points out in Galatians that there are two difficult areas that can distract us from good relationships. First, he points out legalism and then licentiousness, so he calls us to walk in the middle way of the Holy Spirit.
Below is an excerpt, from an article about rock polishers and relationships that I wrote for my devotional book REEL TO REAL: 45 Movie Devotions for Families.
To add to that, here are some ideas about triumphant relationships. The points are taken from the Bible, but the order may be rearranged and many other points could be added.
So when you are suffering from relationship problems is probably wise to remember the old spiritual hymn: “It’s Me Oh Lord! (Standing in the need of Prayer)” (I love this version that you may want to listen to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x90HfUJl6eY). Or as Jesus said, take the log out of your eye first (Matthew 7:5).
In this regard, do not presume that you can read the other person’s mind or know what they are thinking. As the Bible says, “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” (Psalm 19:13)
Before you do say anything, forgive. God says that if we repent and come to Him, not only He will not only forgive but also forget (Hebrews 8:12),
Of course, third remember to go to the person you are struggling with to discuss the issue. In other words, “If your brother sins against you, go to him and show him his fault. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If he listens to you, you have won your brother back.” (Matthew 18:15)
One way to improve an ongoing relationship is to find whatever you can thank God for about the person with whom you are struggling. So, I write a thank you letter to God every morning just after reading the Bible, praying, and doing exercises.
Help the person as much as possible and love them by being there for them for whatever problems they have.
Also, pray constantly in faith knowing that ultimately it’s God will, not what we do, but His grace which will change our heart and the other person’s heart and reconcile us.
Always, remember in the midst of this is that the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Here is the article I promised you from REEL TO REAL: 45 Movie Devotions for Families (Chapter 36) about how God uses our relationships to polish us:
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) helps answer that question: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
A minister friend of mine was counseling a couple in Washington at their home. The husband had recently been diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis (MS), so they had suffered economic tragedy since he had lost his government job as a result.
As the minister was counseling them, there was this awful grinding noise in the background: their son’s rock polisher.
The minister friend asked if the parents could turn it off so they could discuss the problems they were facing. When they said that the machine had to be left running, the minister asked them to show him the noisy machine, hoping he would get them to turn it off.
If you have children, you will know that a rock polisher looks like a little vertical mixer with a funnel, a belly and three gears at the bottom.
The parents told the minister that you throw the rocks that you find at the pond or stream into the machine. If they’re precious or semi-precious, they’ll polish; and, if they’re not, they’ll be ground to dirt.
The minister asked, “How do they polish?” The husband explained, “All the gears do is throw the rocks up in the air, and the rocks polish by hitting up against each other.”
Hoping that the family would turn it off, the minister persisted, “how long does it take?” “The more precious they are,” the husband explained, “the longer they take to polish.”
So, the minister dug deeper, “Well, how do you know when it’s finished?” The wife replied, “When you can take the polished gemstone out of the polisher and see your face in it.”
The minister the husband and the wife were like the gemstones. The husband’s disease and the loss of his job was tossing them up to hit up against each other.
If they were precious, they would polish. God would know when they were polished when He could see His face and likeness in them.
God’s system is that our relationships and our situations polish each of us. The church, the family, our jobs, for instance, are our rock polishers. The circumstances of sickness, disease, or poverty are really just the gears that throw us up in the air and force us to hit up against each other.
If we abandon each other, if we abandon people, if we abandon coming together, we don’t get polished. We get polished by knocking off the imperfections and rough edges of each other.
So, we need each other to polish each other. Look forward to God seeing his face in reflected in your polished character.
Father, please help each of us to love each other and to be so polished that you will see your image in each of us…the image of your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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