Hebrews 3:12-14 (NIV) — “See to it brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today. So that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence, we had at first.”
There’s many of life’s challenges that we encounter on a daily basis. In my opinion, there is no greater challenge than establishing and maintaining relationships. Especially after I began to confess Christ as Savior, Redeemer.
Prior to that day, I think I might have sided with Cain’s attitude, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)
The Biblical teachings such as Matthew 5:44 — “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Or even, “If your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirsty give him something to drink.” (Proverbs 25:21)
These were pretty much alien to the way I was raised. I struggle to put my youthful years in descriptive words. I guess to be appropriate I could say, “I was raised with a “fruitful, exuberance of distain and distrust.”
The Bible is full of relationships among people — person to person, tribe to tribe, nation to nations, rich and poor, wise and foolish, slave and master, righteous and religious, Jew and Gentile.
Many relationships revealing God working in and through people.
General world history has that same reflection, how relationships have built and destroyed lives and kingdoms. Say, like Helen of Troy, the face that launched 1,000 ships.
How complicated is the relationship between Achilles and Hector? Legend or history, ancient literature, or mythology?
In 2004 there was a movie that came out named “Troy.” In that movie, Achilles and Hector are enemies (spoiler alert).
At the end of the movie there’s a sound bite or narrative saying, by Odysseus, “If they ever tell my story, let them say I walked with giants, men rise and fall like winter wheat, but these names will never die. Let them say I lived in the time of Hector, breaker of horses. Let them say I lived in the time of Achilles.”
I think it was in the winter of 2010 when Captain Phil Harris passed from earth to eternity that a fellow fishing skipper, Jonathan Hilstrand, gave his own amended version of that quote by saying, “I fished in the time of Phil Harris.”
Forgive me if that’s not a complete quote. It’s been awhile since I heard it. Jonathan had a featured part in the Discovery Channel’s dedication to Phil Harris. I remember the clip, but not 100% of his quote.
To honor another, whether friend or foe. Jesus shared what we now call the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 5:44 says “Love your enemies.” Hollywood rendered its own version of this famous line, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”
Establishing relationship is definitely complicated. Not all our decisions are as simple as “leave the gun, take the cannoli.”
Are you familiar with 2 Corinthians 5? There’s a couple of verses I have been pondering as I’ve been thinking about relationships and this article.
The whole fifth chapter is worth the read. But for this article, allow me to share a couple of verses.
2 Corinthians 5:11-12 — “Since, then we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope plain to your conscience.”
Verse 13 and 14a — “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us.”
So I have a saying for myself: “Some days are trickier than others.”
Seriously, some days, my part in relationships goes smooth like butter. Other days, not so much! Some days it’s as if I’m dismantling relationships. So naturally, sadness, disappointment, discouragement start to settle in. Shake it off! Don’t let those thoughts settle in your heart.
I must admit, there’s a saying or quip along with a scripture I keep in my spiritual toolbox — ready?
“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on!”
Most of our worries and fears are temporary.
The Scripture is Micah 6:8 — “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good and what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
“God’s job is to open doors — Our job is to walk through those doors.” Receiving the gift of discernment is a great blessing.
First things first: a relationship with our Creator.