I’ve previously talked about the proper place of relationships when it comes to our relationship with God and other people. You can check it out on the website.
I wanted to look at our relationship with other people a little more because sadly, most people’s closest relationship is with other people, not God. And of course, that includes Christians. Yes, there are Christians (not you of course) that are more likely to do something because someone says to do it (or not do it), rather than God commands it or forbids it. That’s simply because there is a large portion of Christians that are just flat out carnal. They’re flaky. They’re double-minded and not spiritual. It’s a sad fact, but it is true. When I use the word carnal, I simply mean they are guided and directed by their flesh or their own soul (mind, will, and emotions) rather than by their spirit of the Holy Spirit.
Of course I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about the other people you know. This connection to other people can be a good thing though. After all, how many believers would still be on their way to Hell if they had not developed a friendship with a believer who led them to Christ? So there can be some benefits.
However, once we have come into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and as we mature, that strong connection to other people, like everything else, should fade in the shadow of our Lord. God should take His proper place of priority in our lives. And when I say “take,” I mean that we should give it to Him. God’s not going to take that place. He is a gentleman. If you don’t want to give Him that place, He will kindly bow out and let you fill it with whatever you want. Yes, He will tug at your heart. But if you’re continually ignoring that pull, you’ll start to become hardened to it it and soon it will seem like He’s not tugging at all (check out my article on ‘No Mere Man” for more on that).
When God doesn’t have that proper place, things get messy, as I’ve talked about in my previous post. How many times have people (maybe even you), left a church or stayed at a church because of your relationships with other people? As great as our relationships are with our brothers and sisters in Christ, they do not take the place of our relationship with God. That means that if God is telling you to leave, you don’t stay because of the people. And if He tells you to stay, you don’t leave because of the people.
That’s kind of hard because if you’re supposed to stay, you have to endure those relationships that aren’t easy at all. You have to see those people week after week that may annoy you, or more than likely, infuriate you. That’s why we’re told to walk in love. Get over yourself. Get over the problem. Learn to forgive and do what God told you to do. That means you might have to be the bigger person. Better to endure bad relationships in the middle of God’s will than experience good relationships totally out of the will of God.
On the other hands, what if God tells you to leave a church, but you’re so caught up in the relationships that you don’t? Would you let someone else keep you out of the will of God? So many people do, with the best intentions. People will take upon themselves someone else’ offense just because they know the person that got hurt. Don’t do it. It’s a trap.
People Can Get You In Trouble
If we allow them to, people can lead us down the wrong path. We all know this to be true, but how true? There was a young guy whose grandfather became ill to the point that he had to be hospitalized. During the many weeks that he was in the hospital, the only person besides the doctors and nurses to visit was a minister of another religion. This minister continued to visit and show affection towards the family that greatly influenced the grandson, as well as the rest of the family.
This affection was so great that once the grandfather was better, they all started to attend this minister’s church, becoming committed to the minister’s religion, moving further away from God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The effect that we can have on people is monumental. It can be for good or it can be for bad. The effect that other people can have on us can be monumental as well, either for good or bad. But what should we do? What should we do so that we don’t allow other people to affect us the way that they potential can?
We’re told very clearly what to do by God and by Jesus.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. – Deuteronomy 6:5 NKJV
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV
We’re told to put God first. When we put God first, everything else works out because the love, the wisdom, the strength – everything we need to deal with and have a relationship with others will flow out of that. The ability to have a proper relationship with others comes through having a proper relationship with God.
If you get those two relationships turned around, nothing works like it should.
The Bible has illustration after illustration about this important truth. Do you remember the story of Zacchaeus? The townspeople in Jericho got offended at Jesus because he went to go eat at Zacchaeus’ house because he was just an old sinner (Luke 19). Adam and Eve both turned away from God because they put their relationship with the serpent and each other above their relationship with God. Sapphira put her relationship with her husband above her relationship with God and was buried alongside of him because of her decision to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5). Abraham had a good relationship with his wife Sarah, yet her impatience caused Abraham to get out of the will of God and they got an Ishmael (Genesis 16).
Even the disciples love for Jesus got them out of the will of God. He told them that He was going to the cross and they wanted to stop Him (Matthew 16). It got so bad that Jesus even called Peter the devil! They were putting their love of Jesus the Rabbi, above their love of God the Father. So it is possible that we have good relationships with people and they cause us to get out of the will of God.
Don’t allow that to happen. Guard your heart. Love people, but love God first. Remember, the greatest commandment that Jesus gave us was to love God. The second commandment (that comes after the first) is to love people. We act on commandment number one first and that enables us to act on commandment number two in the manner that we should. Never get those two turned around or you will get yourself in a mess. Stay with the Word and the Spirit.