Restored - Hidden essentials
Since the start of the month we have been discussing relationships in an attempt to understand Biblical secrets to successful relationships and secure God's best for our romantic relationships.
Today we will explore one important ingredient for success and some attitudes that negatively impact our relationships.
One critical ingredient to make any relationship work is love. If we have a love that is undying, willing to sacrifice, giving and patient; a love that looks beyond shortcomings, mistakes and bad choices, it would make an amazing difference in our relationships. However, in modern society the issue of selfishness is destroying many relationships.
Selfishness is putting our own goals, priorities and needs before everyone else's, even those of persons who are really in need.
In Philippians 2:3-5 NLT Paul says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus..."
Selfish ambition, or 'a desire to put one's self forward,' is what usually causes strife. This kind of self-seeking leads to quarrels, hassling, haggling, fights, arguments and contention. Sometimes we think it is defending our right, demanding respect and showing ownership over what is ours. However the truth is that it is just old-fashioned selfishness that leads to interpersonal problems.
In the passage, Paul gives the antidote to selfishness and points out four ways to have and maintain a great relationship.
1. GET RID OF SELFISHNESS
Selfishness or self-centredness is the root cause of many broken hearts whereas strong relationships have a foundation that is based on the ability to grow to love. The first step in overcoming selfishness/self-centredness is to admit it to yourself. The reality is that we all exhibit a degree of selfishness so we need to be honest with ourselves about what drives us to be selfish.
Let us look at four things that trigger selfish desires:
a. Fear of loss of control. Many persons believe that if they give to others they will lose control.
b. Narcissism - the belief that we are better than others around us.
c. Believing that you are the source of what you have achieved.
d. Unmet personal goals - being afraid to give anything away or believing that the other party is holding you back.
Carrying any of these to our relationships and allowing them to dominate us can destroy the relationship.
2. INCREASE HUMILITY
Most of us secretly believe that we're better than those around us. But humility is a prerequisite for love and unity. Oftentimes in relationships the issues that cause division have to do with us thinking that our way is right, or from attitudes of superiority. As Paul says in Philippians 2: 5, "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus..." Although Jesus was superior by nature He did not come with an air or presentation of superiority but loved us as fellow men and women, and humbled Himself. We must humble ourselves as well, "Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave..." Philippians 2:6-7 NLT
3. FOCUS ON OTHERS
Don't just be interested in what is going on in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others too. The direction is for us to put ourselves in second place and to elevate the other person to first. It's a call to selfless action, to love our spouse enough to selfishly serve their needs above our own. Throughout His life, Jesus served others; He "humbled Himself and became obedient to death even death on the cross," Philippians 2:8 NIV. We are to do the same for those we love. A great marriage starts when each party serves the other.
4. DEVELOP A CHRIST-LIKE CHARACTER
This is the key to making it work. Our mindset has to be like that of Jesus. For us to experience God's best for our relationship, God needs to be at the centre. The challenge that we have is that naturally our mind is far from Christ: "19 For out of the heart (mind) come evil thoughtsmurder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." Matthew 15:19 NIV. Some of the very issues that destroy relationships dominate our minds and these are the very things that we need to rid ourselves of. So, how is this possible? It happens only when the Spirit of God is resident in our lives.
Can you imagine if we all approached our relationships especially our romantic relationship like this? If we soberly considered our own faults and flaws, took the time to study our partners to know and understand their interests and needs, and decided to satisfy those needs as our first priority; what do you think would be the result of this new way of relating? Among other things, we would see a dramatic improvement in our relationships.
It is possible for us to achieve, so let us apply these simple principles to our walk and relationships.