By Gina Harris
"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another." - John 15:12-17
What is a Godly relationship? When Pastor Randy first asked me to do this workshop, I wasn't sure I knew what a Godly relationship really was or meant. So that meant, first to pray about it, second to learn about it, and third to share what I learned about it. God truly inspired me to study this subject and in doing so, wanted me to learn and apply to my life the very principles I would share with others.
I had to define a Godly relationship, so I broke it down:
Godly - of relating to, or proceeding directly from God, divine. Okay, so God has to be involved in something that is Godly. Imagine that!
Relationship - the state or character of being related or interrelated, connection between two or more things.
Therefore, we could say that a Godly relationship is a connection between two persons proceeding directly from God. Or to put it another way, two people relate to each other divinely – submitting to one another in the fear of God. - Ephesians 5:21
The Christian must never forget that, in every relationship of life, another person is present. There are not only the two of us present–the husband & wife, the parent & child, the boss & employee, the slave & master. In every relationship, a third person is present–the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, the ever present question in a Godly relationship must be,'What does Jesus, living in me, expect of this relationship?' If we do not recognize His presence, then we cannot submit ourselves to one another. We will easily let our own selfish, prideful motives get in our way, and thus damage the relationship. If we insist on satisfying the urges within ourselves for self-justification or vindication, then that is our god. However, if we are willing to obey what Christ would have us do, we prove that he is our God. For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died. - 2 Corinthians 5:14
ACTIONS/ATTITUDES THAT ARE NOT GODLY:
Self-absorption, selfishness – "What I want," "What's in it for me," "you infringed on my rights." Me, me, me, and more me. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy 2 Timothy 3:2
Self-justification –"After all, I'm right, he/she is wrong" "Let them apologize first". Pride has gripped us so that we cannot, under any circumstance, yield to the other. There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness. Proverbs 30:12
Self-pity – "He/she always treats me that way!", "I never get to win an argument," "He/she is so mean." Wah! Wah! Wah! We are so hurt by what they have done to us that we cannot behave in a Godly fashion. Sometimes "being right" is just as wrong as wrong is. Who cares, we need to grow up. Is it really going to matter that you're right and they're wrong in eternity? Is God going to say? "Hey, way to go on that argument. You really stuck to your guns. Good job!" I don't think so! A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart. - Proverbs 18:2
ACTIONS/ATTITUDES THAT ARE GODLY
Self-denial – 'What does Christ want me to do?', 'What does He want out of this situation?" Leave me out of it. I don't have to have something out of this situation that benefits me. I defer to what Jesus wants me to do. Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. - Matthew 16:24
Self-honesty –"Where have I faulted in this situation," "What have I done to fuel the fire," "Does it always have to be about me." I really have some fault in this. I sure can be a pain in someone's neck. I want them to forgive me. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. - Mark 11:25
Selflessness – 'What can I do for the other person', 'What does Jesus want me to do with or for this other person', I will set aside my desires, wants, feelings for this other person and to obey what Jesus would have me do. In fact, as I think about it, that is my real desire anyway. I love this person who is made in the image of Christ. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you - Matthew 5:44
If we are still always in the actions that are ungodly, then we have not learned to let go of our arrogance, stubbornness, and self-centeredness. However, if even occasionally, you can stop and look at the situation, and say "Lord, I'm being a jerk. It doesn't matter if I am right or wrong. You want me to apologize to this person, so I will obey you out of my love for you." WOW! How many have been able to do that ever? Abraham Lincoln said, "Every man is in some way my superior." Think about that. Can you see all others that way?
When my husband first got out of prison, we fought a lot (at least I was the one fighting), but I would say something to him (wanting to argue so I could have an excuse to leave and go do my thing), and he would answer, "Well, thank you for that awareness, I will take a look at that, and pray about it." WHAT?! But slowly, I started seeing that the Lord had changed my husband. And I wanted it. Now! I was like gimme that. I want it. But it took a long time before I could even take a look at me and my stuff and turn it over to the Lord for repair. I prayed a lot because there was a lot of garbage. And the Lord stripped every barrier that was in my way so I could see Gina as she was. It was ugly!!!! With that, came a lot of regret, guilt, and shame. But slowly, without me even noticing it, God was changing me on the inside. I started wanting to go to Pure Word. And for the first time in my life, I listened. I listened to Pastor Randy, while the Lord was working through him to teach us how to change the way we think, feel, and react to situations and people.
Your old nature will still try to rear its ugly head. But the frequency of outbursts from that old nature will become less; especially when you see the beauty of your Godly actions and the fruit that they bear.
Then, I wanted to start helping out at Pure Word (that's huge for me, because I was always so stingy with my time). And I found out that people were genuine and really did love me for me. And I wanted to be like that. And God granted that. I was telling people at Pure Word I loved them and I meant it. And these are Godly relationships with Godly people–not perfect people. And none of us will be perfect until we meet our maker. "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phillipians 1:6-7). How about that? The Lord himself (not an angel) will perform a good work in me and you too!!! Now that is comforting!
You will always have relationships whether it is husband-wife, parent-child, brother-sister, boss-workers, etc. And there are no endearing relationships without FORGIVENESS. Whether is a new relationship or an old relationship, it will require forgiveness on both parts. But knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses and choosing to love, forbear, forgive and go forward and grow together in Christ far exceeds that of a plastic, pretend relationship. This is a wonderful quote by Oswald Chambers, "I have never met the man that I can despair of when I rightly discern what lies in me apart from the grace of God. Never give up on people. NEVER. Always remember where you'd be apart from the grace of God working in you."
So be forgiving, tolerant. For all their faults, you are probably no prize either. That's a hard thing to admit. Hey, I may be a pain in the neck sometimes too. And I want to be forgiven when I'm a jerk. So let go. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26-27 It's a matter of maturing in Christ and putting others before self. It's an attitude of service. What can I do for you, instead of what can you do for me? What's in it for you, not me? How can I help you achieve or get what you're seeking? I guarantee you that will be your greatest fulfillment in this life apart from your love relationship with Christ. I love what Pastor Bob says after every service, "NOW, GO OUT AND LOVE SOMEBODY!" This will speak louder than words to the unbeliever.
And finally, her are two stories: Let's see how they contrast.
During World War II, an enemy submarine approached a fleet of ships in the North Atlantic. The captain of one vessel spotted the white mark of a torpedo coming directly at his ship. His transport was loaded with literally hundreds and hundreds of young soldiers on the way to the European front. He realized they would not have time to maneuver to avoid the torpedo. He grabbed the loudspeakers and cried out, "Boys, this is it!"
Nearby, though, a little escorting destroyer also observed the torpedo. The captain ordered, "Full speed ahead." His ship steamed into the path of the torpedo. The destroyer was blown up; it sank very quickly. Every man on it was lost.
The captain of the troop transport ship sadly commented, "The skipper of that destroyer was my best friend." Now one verse in the Bible has an even deeper meaning for that captain; Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends John 15:13
What is all this touching in church? It used to be a person could come to church and sit in a pew and not be bothered by all this friendliness and certainly not by touching. I used to come to church and leave untouched.
Now I have to be nervous about what is expected of me. I have to worry about responding to the person sitting next to me. Oh, I wish it could be the way it used to be; I could just ask the person next to me, "How are you?" And the person could answer, "Oh, just fine." And we would both go home strangers who have known each other for 20 years.
But now the pastor asks us to look at each other. I am worried about that hurt look I saw in that woman's eyes. Now I am upset because the lady next to me cried and then apologized and said it was because I was so kind and that she needed a friend right now. Now I have to get involved. Now I have to suffer when this community suffers. Now I have to be more than a person coming to observe a service.
That man last week told me I had never known how much I had touched his life. All I did was smile and tell him I understood what it was to be lonely.
Lord, I'm not big enough to touch and be touched. What if I disappoint somebody? What if I am too pushy? What if I cling too much? What if somebody ignores me? O Lord, be here beside me. You touch me, Lord, so I can touch and be touched. So that I can care and be cared for. So that I can share my life with all those others that belong to you.
All this touching in church, Lord, it is changing me.
Now, let's have a question and answer period. I'll ask the questions. Feel free to answer out loud or in your heart.
There are about 500 more questions I could ask. But you get the point. Godly relationships begin in your heart where Jesus lives. You will automatically have Godly relationships if you keep God's command first and foremost in your heart: Love God first, others second and yourself last. This is very hard to do and can't be done unless we are walking with the Lord. And you are trying to change a lifetime of conditioned responses to certain stimuli. But next time you get the opportunity, give up your pride, your desires, your hopes, your dreams, and defer to the one you are engaged with, no matter what the cost. See what happens. You may find out how rewarding and freeing it can be. Keep God in your relationships and they will be Godly!
Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for the opportunity to learn such a valuable lesson. You have shown us (especially me) through this workshop how much work needs to be done on ourselves. We want so much to give up the "me" in everything and do for others Lord as you did, when you were here on earth. Please give us a heart for serving our brothers and sisters in this world instead a heart for self-serving. Let our motives be pure and not seek attention or want for recognition, but in quiet obedience do your will to those that are made in your image and that includes everybody. In your precious name, Lord we pray.