Understanding Relationships

husband and wifeI’ve learned a lot… about God, sin, myself reading The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace, have you?  I was thinking this morning, though this book is about becoming an excellent wife, which we all want to be,but I’ve come to understand this book is not just about becoming an excellent wife… it’s about the relationship we have with God, ourselves and others, not just our husbands.  I know… slow on the take maybe, but still.  So let’s continue our journey…

God designed us for relationships we are not to walk in this world alone.  As much as we want a relationship with others, relationships aren’t easy.  They aren’t easy with our husbands, our children, our family, our co-workers, our friends.  Let’s face it ~ relationships are hard! They hurt, they make us mad, they disappoint us.  I’ve been thinking about relationships the past few days a lot (thank you, Martha!).  About the relationships I have with others.  I’ve come to understand that most of the “hard” comes from my own expectations of what others should be, what others should do.  I expect Hubs to pick up after himself, I expect him to know my needs without speaking them to him.  I expect my family to love Jesus like I do.  So when my expectations are not met, I have wrong, sinful thoughts.  When I have these wrong, sinful thoughts, I thrust my desires on the other person.  More often than not, it backfires on me.  My desires are not their desires.  I get upset, I get angry.  I’m worried about my own desires.

God doesn’t want us to live for ourselves, but to live for Him. On this journey, we are to be witnesses for Christ, sometimes I forget this.  The words that come from my mouth matter.  Colossians 4:6 ESV, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”   How I behave and my actions matter.  Titus 2:12 ESV, “Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”  These things are for the world to see, especially in our relationships.  I forget that these things are the outward expression of Jesus in my life.  I forget my journey (our journey) is honor and glorify God in all we do, to live for Him.  This is a struggle we all face… to stop living for ourselves.

God wants us to be and act like Jesus in all our relationships.  John 17:22-23 ESV tells us, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”  That means thinking like Jesus would.  Jesus didn’t think about what the “other person” was doing but what He was doing. Jesus built up those around Him without expecting anything in return.  Can we?

Martha gives us God’s pattern for overcoming the “me” in relationships.  The Godhead’s relationship is the model for all our relationships.  The Trinity. The Trinity will result in perfect harmony and intimacy in our relationships.  God has given each of us these characteristics it’s how we use them that matter in all of our relationships.

Characteristics of the Trinity:       Tender, compassionate, and merciful.

Characteristics of Fallen Man:      Not gentle, unmerciful, and cruel.

Characteristics of the Trinity:      Open and transparent.

Characteristics of Fallen Man:      Closed, private and self-protective.

Characteristics of the Trinity:      Goodness towards the other shown by glorifying each other.

Characteristics of Fallen Man:      Malice towards each other shown in tearing the other down to build up self.

Characteristics of the Trinity:      Love – sacrificial actions for the other.

Characteristics of Fallen Man:     Self-seeking ~ actions for self.

Characteristics of the Trinity:     Perfect communication with each other.

Characteristics of Fallen Man:     Hurt each other by not communicating biblically.

Characteristics of the Trinity:      Honest and truthful, commitment to a righteous standard.

Characteristics of Fallen Man:     Deceitful, lying, and committed to self.

Characteristics of the Trinity:      Perfect knowledge and understanding of each other.

Characteristics of Fallen Man:      Limited knowledge and revelation of each other.

Characteristics of the Trinity:      Reliable and faithful in their relationships.

Characteristics of Fallen Man:     Unreliable, unfaithful, and lacking in trust due to the conditional basis of their relationship. (“If you will, then I will…”)

Characteristics of the Trinity:     When working on a task, there is order, purpose and voluntary subordination of the Son and Spirit to the Father. (No power play over “my rights”.)

Characteristics of Fallen Man:     Likely to manipulate with anger, tears, threats to have own way. (May desperately cling to “my rights”.)

As I read these characteristics, I realized why some of my relationships failed!  Light bulb moment to be sure.  Can you?  I can’t count the number of times I closed myself off to others, or the number of times I said things to make myself look better than the person next to me, or how about the times I didn’t say what I was really feeling.  Geesh, the list can go on and on.  As I look at certain failed relationships, I can see exactly why they failed.  If only…

Martha says, “As you can see, the Trinity has perfect unity and harmony. In fact, the three members of the God-head are so inter-relational, they appear to be one person, when in truth, they are three.  Since the three members of the God-head are our perfect example, take some to read carefully the following explanation of how the members of the Trinity relate to each other.

The Trinity is a relationship in which three persons (each being perfect in character and totally equal in being, power, and glory) reveal, know and love each other tenderly and perfectly for the other’s good within the context of an eternal commitment.  When they decide to set and accomplish a goal, for the purpose of order and economy, God the Son and God the Spirit voluntarily subordinate themselves to God the Father in order to function according to their perfect plans.  As they work together, the are totally unified in desire, thought and action until the goal’s completion.  Thus, they are plurality within a unity.”

Why do we may struggle with all of this… can you guess the reason?  SIN!  Our natural tendency is to “self”.  A sinful man does everything to protect the “self”.  A sinful man seeks to be isolated, in order to not be hurt, to not share the”self”.  A sinful man seeks to be in control that way nothing can hurt the “self”.  A sinful man seeks to hide, cover-up so there will be no pain to “self”.  A sinful man is always in “self” protection mode.  A sinful man is always thinking about “self”.

How do we come out of “self” and into all that God has for us?  Get into God’s Word!  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12 ESV. The more we get into the Word the more the Holy Spirit can convict us on the changes we need to make in our “selves”.

In all your relationships, (especially with your husband), God wants us to communicate in love.  God wants us to experience a righteous intimacy through sharing thoughts, present and future desires, goals, to discuss the struggles we are facing and the spiritual insights we are gaining.  God wants us to be open, and honest ~ to allow the other to see us as we truly are.  God wants us to build up others through our words and actions.  Our tasks are to be done with God first, others second, for God’s glory.

“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Romans 8:7 ESV