Tag Archives: love others

Bargaining Relationships

Recently, I have become aware of the unhealthy relationship I have with people pleasing and the attempts to live up to the expectations of others.  In this journey, I’ve also realized that one of the motivations for this is the transactional, or bargaining, nature of these kind of relationships.

In short, I’m nice to you which means you will be nice to me.

It’s something that was taught, both implied and outright, in schools and churches when I was a child.  Not just in relationships, but in every aspect of my life.  If I follow the rules, I get good things.  If I study, I will get good grades (meaning perfect A+’s).

It has even seeped into my relationship with God.  If I read my Bible and pray every day, then I will get all the good blessings in life. And if I am struggling, it means that I’m doing something wrong.  But the Bible says something different.

Jesus’s followers in John 9:1 saw a blind man and asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was blind from birth?”  Jesus responded that the purpose of the blindness was to glorify God, then he healed the man, further proving God’s divine power in him. 

Job was a righteous man who followed all of the rules, so much that God even bragged on him.  But he still lost everything, even his health.  His friends accused him of sinning some big sin.  He turned to God for answers, and God basically told him that he wouldn’t understand the entire picture, but that it was much bigger than Job could imagine.  And Job responded with faith.

And while there are instances in the Bible where God punishes someone for their sin (ie, David and Bathsheba losing their son or the Israelites going into exile), the bigger picture doesn’t change.  David even says that though he is separated from his son for now, he will see him again someday.  Because the picture is bigger than he could ever have imagined.

God is operating on a bigger playing field than a series of checks and balances.  Because the reality is that we will never measure up on our own.  That is why Christ came to this earth, to wipe away the debits and credits in our life so that we can really focus on what is the most important thing – our relationship with God.  Trusting him and keeping that faith through our love for others.

And loving others not in a transactional way but loving them because God loves us.  1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.”  Not because they were nice to us, or they think like us, or they act like us, because that’s not the way Jesus loved.  He loved the broken, the angry, the selfish, the sinful, the ones who carry their pain in their hearts and bodies and minds, the ones who pour pain into others.  That is what he calls us to do. 

We love because he first loved us.

John 4:19

I am so grateful for my relationship with God, that it doesn’t depend on my own perfection but is covered in the perfect love of Christ.  May I live out that love more and more in my own life and in the lives of those around me by living beyond the expectations of others to the bigger plan God has for my life.

Summer Study: Philippians 4

The final chapter of the final book of my summer study.  I can’t believe I’ve already arrived here.  This has been fun, fascinating, convicting, and amazing.  So let’s get into chapter 4 of Philippians!

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In this final chapter, Paul is saying his farewells.  In this letter, he’s covered how to remember the big picture, of the spiritual warfare that is prevalent though unseen, how to stand firm but be humble, knowing that we don’t have it all figured out.  But instead stay steadfast in Christ.  He continues along these lines pleading with specific people to stop fighting and unify for the sake of the kingdom.

But if I were to boil down the last chapter into one word, it would be “contentment”.  And there were two things that Paul felt would help the people of this church find contentment.  Praying with thanksgiving (meaning asking requests to God in the same breath as thanking him for what you have already received) and leaning on the strength of God.

He even uses himself as an example.  In whatever situation he is in, he has learned to be content.  But he also recognizes with thankfulness the generosity from this church that has enabled him to reach so many others.  But even in that gratitude, he acknowledges that his contentment comes with the help of his Heavenly Father.

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Because it’s not always easy to be content in our circumstances.  And while gratitude journals or using other ways to instill gratitude into our lives is helpful, I think it’s also helpful to acknowledge that we are weak in our humanity.  We are not going to have this all figured out.  We are not going to be perfect, even through practice.  And when we come up short, God’s grace and strength can fill in the gap.

I don’t really like thinking of myself this way.  Weak.  Failure.  Chaos.  Fumbling.  I like to think that if I follow the rules long enough, make the right choices every time, and envelope myself in the right environment, that I will have it figured out.  But if anyone could have filled out that resume, it would be Paul.  And as I learned in chapter 2, he considered all of his abilities and gifts and strength rubbish compared to what God had.

And God knows this, and he wants to use this.  He’s like “Give me your weakness and I will give you my strength.”  Because he doesn’t want people who have it all figured out because those people’s followers will just want to follow those people.  But when our weakness is exposed and God’s strength shines through, the followers and onlookers see only God.

It lifts off some of that responsibility we try to hold on to.  I thought for years that it was my job to convert the hearts of others, but instead, I’ve learned that I just need to love them.  But in order to do that, I have to get that love from God, so I need to be in a relationship with him so that he fills me up with love to the point that it overflows to others in my life.  Hence, love God, love others.

Thank you so much for following me through this summer study.  It’s amazing the little things, little reminders, that shine through the text that I’ve read so many times before. I look forward to new things and ideas this fall!

Living with intention

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

It’s true.  Time seems to go so slowly until you get older.  Then, it just flies by.  Of course, I can’t actually slow time down, but last year I made a pact with myself to start living every second I have with purpose.

What purpose was that exactly?  I never felt completely called to one field or another.  I didn’t go to college knowing exactly what it was I wanted to do.  When I graduated, I didn’t feel pulled into one specific career.  I see that as an advantage, usually, but what, then, would be my purpose?

I believe my purpose is nestled in the two greatest rules of life (Matthew 22:34-40).  Love God.  Love others.  So, my first purpose was to race after a relationship with God before anything else on this earth.  My second purpose was to love those who God puts in my life with every fiber of my being.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

The way I reflect that is in my planning.  Every colored moment on my calendar is a pursuit to one of those purposes.  It’s something I hope to continue in 2013.  That, to me, is living with intention.