Living with people at times is hard, and family relationships can be challenging. Why do we put ourselves through it? Because we are made for companionship and friendship. There is a deep-seated desire in all of us for fellowship. God gave it to us when He created us in His image. The three parts of the trinity, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus the Son of God, are in constant communication. God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our atonement so that we could be in a relationship with Him. When we stand before God with the shed blood of Jesus applied to our lives, there is no shame, condemnation, or judgment.
A relationship with anyone (God or human) requires a certain amount of vulnerability. To have a fruitful relationship, we must be transparent and trust that the other person will love us unconditionally. Unfortunately, when we attempt to be in relationships with family and friends, there is often judgment and condemnation. One wrongly timed word or misunderstanding and feelings are hurt, walls go up, and the relationship is severed or lost.
Satan would love nothing more than for God’s people to be at odds with each other. When we are angry with each other, we withdraw and isolate ourselves. When you isolate yourself, you become less of a threat in the kingdom of God and vulnerable to the schemes of the enemy. God doesn’t call us to live life alone but together. God doesn’t contact us to be on guard with people, but He calls us to guard our hearts. We are protecting our hearts against the offenses that we encounter every day. It is almost certain that you will be offended on any given day, but how you process that offense is the key to unity.
Loving others more than you love yourself is the key. Rick Warren tells us, “Learning to love unselfishly is difficult. It runs counter to our self-centered nature.” In this sin-laden world, it is impossible for us to love as God does. Our fallen nature is self-focused, prideful, and selfish.
Two practical steps we can take to love like God are:
- Show patience. One of the reasons there is a special bond between parents and grandchildren is that grandparents move slower and little children don’t have to work so hard to keep up with them. Parents are busy with the day-to-day, but a grandparent takes the time to enjoy every moment with a patient attitude.
- Show kindness. It can be challenging to be kind to people that have not been thoughtful toward you, but that is what God tells us to do. The Apostle Paul tells us to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV) One key to forgiving one another is remembering how Jesus forgave you, but another is overlooking how you would want to be forgiven if the shoe was on the other foot. Being kind doesn’t cost us anything, but we can achieve much.