Today’s guest blogger is Karen Gaul. Karen has been a
biblical counsellor since 1994 and is certified by the Association of
Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). She is dedicated to bringing
the Word of God to light in the lives of his hurting children. She
considers it an awesome privilege and honour to be able to walk with brothers
and sisters in Christ to find healing, contentment, joy and peace in the Lord.
This material was originally posted October 14, 2014 and is reposted with permission by the author. You can find this post
and more of her writing here.
Life in our little worlds often gets really messy. Relationships
are not easy. People are not always who we thought they were when we first met. That can be true for a friend or your spouse, a co-worker or a “pew-mate”. It means that conflict
always has the ability to be on our horizons.
change and no longer meet our expectations, or no longer do the things they
once did. Things that once drew us together now have the potential to drive us apart. Of course I never change.
Our friends can be insensitive and distant and we surmise things are changing and that the relationship
will no longer be the same.
We can have disagreements with our “pew-mates” and rather than being ok with our differentness we begin to distance ourselves from them and maybe even from church all together.
We have concluded that the problem
is with them and not within us.
Relationships take time, they take work, they take honest evaluation, they take prayer, they take persistence, and they take pursuing a common goal. As believers that goal is always unity. As believers that goal must always be unity. Jesus came to bring reconciliation and unity. His prayer for us was that we, you and I, would be unified just as the Trinity is unified.
As the Trinity is unified, as They enjoy each other in their differentness, as They work together for a common goal, as They love and serve each other perfectly that is the goal for our relationships with other believers.
We are too easily offended and slighted. We are too quick to walk away. It seems right to place blame
where we think blame needs to be placed and then excuse our own behaviour. We are absolutely convinced that there “is no working things out
”, we have decided that things will never change.
We come to God almost the same way making requests based on what we see as wrong in either the situation or the other person. It’s easier than doing the hard work of digging deep into our own hearts to see what is really going on there. We then don’t get the desired results mostly because we are not asking the right questions.
How to Zero in on a Biblical Agenda
Let’s look at Ezekiel 14:1-5. The leadership came to inquire of God through the prophet Ezekiel. But God sees that something else is wrong with them.
What is God’s summarization of the problem these people face? What was it that Ezekiel didn’t see that God did?
God will speak about one thing. God saw idolatry. He has only one agenda–what is that? God’s agenda is always the heart before Him. (Our Thoughts and motives)
Why is that God’s biggest concern? Because we live out of our hearts and they say much about what we believe to be true about Him.
We so easily walk away from relationships when they aren’t what we want them to be but maybe God wants to do a work in “me”.
It means digging deep inside myself not in a “beat myself up process” but with the intent of seeking to see what God may be wanting to show me about myself and my thinking, attitudes, desires, and purposes. He wants me to mine the riches of His truth for my life.
Questions to ask when in a rough situation:
- What is going on with my reactions? What is coming out of me? (anger, silence, fleeing, fear discouragement, _________)
- Do I have all the facts right? Do I even have all the facts?
- Am I listening to the other person and hearing what they are saying?
- Can I be convinced that because I am still sinful that what is going on is my perception of things? (things are not always as they appear)
- How can I be thinking like Christ and not be a reactor who is ready to explode?
- What is going on in my heart?
- What do I want so badly that I am willing to spew all over this relationship?
- What do I desire that I am willing to run away from going deeper?
- How is my reaction to this person not working toward unity and oneness?
- What might God want me to learn?
- Am I willing to do good (Romans 12), to “repay evil with good, in love” (1 Peter 3:4) to live with a quiet and gentle spirit, (Phil 2:3,4) to put the needs of others ahead of my own, to be reconciled, to pursue sorting this out as long as it may take for the sake of Christ?
- Should love cover this one?
- What does love even look like in this situation? (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Whatever is going on in my heart will exercise inescapable influence over my life and my behaviour
In other words whatever desire or demand or want or passion is dominating my heart
will influence my words and my actions. If I want relationships to look a certain way and they don’t I will get angry or loseheart
if and when they stop giving me “the certain way” look.
We will most certainly have people who rub us the wrong way, who disappoint us, who sin against us but we need to remember we are all sinful people who still need some maturing and growing up. Maybe God wants to do a maturing work in both of you through this particular conflict.
Don’t lose heart, keep pressing into Him who wants to recapture (Ezekiel 14:5 a forceful seizing) your heart and make you more like Him.
We need to remember that Jesus who brings us all together be it marriage, or friendship or co-worker or “pew-mate” is greater than the forces that would desire to tear us apart.
Torn up relationships who profess Christ, sheep that scatter, all give the world a picture of God and His power to work in His children, or lack thereof.
What kind of picture are we showing our neighbours, our family, our cities? Relationships as I said at the beginning take work, hard work and time.
I pray that God would take me deeper into understanding my own sinfulness and bring change into me so I can enjoy better relationships with those around me and also a deeper walk with Him.