Part of being an individual participant in society includes interacting with the people that we are together with. Some we voluntarily choose to include in our lives, while others are a part of our lives whether we have asked them to be or not.
By interacting with people around us we build relationships, which I personally have found makes life very interesting and meaningful! Being a Christian and interacting with the people God has placed in my life keeps me humble as I work to find the best way to build meaningful relationships throughout my day. Many times I find that I don’t have the patience or wisdom to be the friend I’d like to be. That’s when I know I need to go to God for grace to know what to say, or what not to say.
What I need in order to have good relationships
While talking to a neighbor, I might learn that they are struggling with a terminal illness, a trial that I can’t completely relate to, but that I realize calls for empathy and support. At work, there may be gossip going around about my supervisor that I choose to stay out of. At home, my children may have their own unique situations that all need to be worked with in a good way so I can build healthy relationships with them. In dealing with all of these situations I have a need for wisdom and godliness, which are what I attain when I seek to have God’s will be done instead of my own. Perhaps I am tired and don’t “feel” like being a blessing – using the cross over my selfishness allows God to use me to bless someone. Then it’s not my agenda that drives my day, but what the spirit is working in the moment.
I once heard a godly man say, “May everyone that I meet be able to sense an undercurrent of goodness that comes from a heart where the cross is actively working.” I have to use the cross, in other words, overcome the sin in my own life, to be able to have a “current” of goodness to build relationships with. The cross makes it possible to work through challenging relationships and to find ways to build new relationships. When my own ideas are on the cross, then I can have a good relationship with anyone that crosses my path, because I am reacting according to the wisdom that comes from living according to God’s Word and His will for me. When I’m not thinking about me, but putting others first, then life becomes really fulfilling and interesting. Then all of my relationships thrive and I experience the blessing that comes from having these pure relationships that aren’t hindered by sin and self-seeking.
Love is creative
Just as we are all created as individuals, our relationships with others will also be very unique and individual. The verse in Matthew 25:40 has come to me many times as I think about how I interact with others: “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Laying my own life down – giving up my own will in order to love, bless, and care for those that cross my path – is one of the simple ways I can serve God!
Love is creative, which means there are lots of ways to build meaningful relationships. For example, I’ve often thought that it’s the little things that make a difference to people – and how can I do God’s will in little ways? When I live a crucified life, God can show me how love is an active virtue that can be demonstrated in many little things. For example, most of us have older friends in our lives. It doesn’t take much to make them feel special and loved – a little help with a challenging chore, a drop-in visit, a plate of cookies – you get the idea. Older friends won’t be around forever and we won’t regret building relationships with them while we have them.
It can be that I don’t always “feel” like blessing the others, according to my nature. The lusts in my flesh would like to assert themselves, and I am tempted to be egotistical and live for myself. But when all of that is “on the cross” then God’s will is done and people can taste God’s goodness through my life. Then I am dealing with others in the love of Christ, not just as a charitable deed, out of a sense of duty as a Christian.
The possibilities are endless!
There are very few times in a day where I get a chance to actually share a Bible verse with the people that I interact with, but my life should reflect the life of Christ and I should treat people the way Jesus did. A good word at the right time, a helping hand, or showing patience in a difficult situation are all ways to build relationships and serve God at the same time. When I have a love for people then the Spirit moves me to act or speak at the right time for their best. The temptation to be lazy and selfish would hinder me from fulfilling small seemingly insignificant promptings, but when I start my day with a determined mind that “I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live for self,” then the possibilities are endless! (Galatians 2:20)
I’m personally indebted to many individuals that have reached out to me and built friendships and relationships over the years! It’s my intention to do the same as I interact with the people that God has placed in my path in life!