There’s nothing like the holidays to highlight the challenge of relationships. Our hearts crave connection. God made us that way. In fact, He created humanity because He craved relationship. The challenge is that most everything conspires against honest, loving relationship. With Christ, that challenge becomes incredible opportunity for improved relationships with others—by propelling us deeper into relationship with the Father. An incredible harvest of fruit from the holidays is possible!
We love because He first loved us.
Trying to do relationship without the love of God creates sickly, broken connections. A relationship can only be as healthy as the sickest person in it. We can’t bring health to others; that is an individual choice. But we can show the way. The only way to a healthy life with healthy relationships is tending the garden of our own souls, and thereby making disciples of others as we go!
In Genesis 2:15, we see God’s plan for humanity: tilling and protecting the garden. Partnering that with Jesus’ teachings in Luke 8:4-15 instructs me in pursuing healthy relationships. The parable of the sower in Luke is used typically in a salvation context. Considering it as transformational truth helps us fulfill our purpose of caring for the world God has placed each of us within. God has placed each of us in a unique garden, with individuals He loves and longs to have in relationship with Himself.
Christ, the Sower, came into the world to seek and save the lost—and destroy the work of the devil. He tells us, “So send I you.” As the Sower, Christ said some seed falls on hard, dry ground; some falls on rocky places, some on weeds and others on good soil. In the parable, the Word was heard in every case. The results varied. As the keeper of my heart, I must ask myself:
Where am I hard and dry?
Are there rocks – hurts or sins blocking my fruit?
What weeds of treasure, pleasure and worry are crowding out the Word?
The people in my life will reveal the answers to every one of those questions. As the holidays approach, listen to the reactions of your heart to the folks you want to love—and be loved by. What is the Word of God we have heard that needs to be nurtured in each of these areas?
Where do you feel hardness? Is it in response to a mother’s words that feel like criticism or perhaps a sister-in-law’s slight? Will you let the shield of Jesus absorb the hurt and His love flow from the wound? Or will you give place to the enemy and respond in the same spirit of unkindness that wounded you?
What rocks become visible? Are you throwing stones or feeling the blows of accusation? There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Unconditional love is the beautiful, unique attribute of Jesus Christ. He alone can heal hurts. Relationship with Him will align those who walk contrary to the Law. Feel His love, show His love and watch how He connects hearts.
And then there are those weeds … those things we love that are so much lesser than Him. People get in the way of getting what we want and relationships die. Sometimes the weeds show up as good things we desperately desire—and will do whatever we must to have them. They drag us from His presence. Sometimes they appear as problems we cannot solve … but we kill ourselves with worry trying to do the impossible.
Relationships are God’s idea because they partner with Him to transform us into the likeness of Christ! Embrace the opportunities the holidays are about to deliver.
How we can pray with you for His glory to be seen in healthy relationships in your life this year?