16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” ~ John 15:16.
Relationships are tricky and in some regard takes a lot of hard work to maintain. In light of this it is always amazes me to how awesome God is and how hard he works to maintain a relationship with His people. The greatest of these efforts on behalf of God was the act of sending His only son to our sinful and selfish world with only one goal in mind, that of salvation out of grace. The love of God is so enormous so astonishingly perfect that His desire has always been to pull us closer to Him, protect us from evil with His most beautiful love and His most forgiving nature that always extends to us His most-perfect grace. I know in many of my past posts I have written about how much God loves us, how awesome His grace is, and as many times as I write it I still find it hard to imagine how this – God’s perfect love – could ever truly be real, but I know it is. I know because God chose us and despite our sinful nature He continues to be present in our everyday lives.
4 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Each relationship we have should be modeled after the relationship God wants to have with us. Every relationship no matter the type will have four main elements in common that if explored will enrich our own lives and help bring us closer to God the Father. The first of these four elements is obvious, for it is love. For in everything we do there must be traces of love in it. The best place to begin looking for traces in our love is by examining how we fight with each other, how we argue with each other, how we disagree with each other. For it is easy in those moments of great heated emotion to say things that would completely damage the person to whom we are fighting with. It is all to easy to bring up painful events or to never let a topic go, even to be judgmental for the sole purpose of winning the argument. I have seen in some people how they plot and plan to create events that they can later use against the person to whom they are constantly fighting against and in that example those who would plot to bring another person down and to purposefully destroy the relationship certainly does not know that their own fruit has already fallen and is rotten to the core where it lays. For in every argument, disagreement, fight, we need to show our love for God by being graceful and kind, by showing restraint, by being purposeful with each word, by using our body language to show inclusion and not rejection. For who are we to reject another person or to point out their sins when we have plenty enough sins of our own to contend with. For I tell you now my brothers and sisters that God is the final judge, His is the final word, His will is the final objective. So, instead of dealing with our anger as children, let us be mature and deal with each other out of love by demonstrating restraint with our words and actions and in this manner we demonstrate love for others and for God. Another excellent place to examine our own love for others is in what we do for others without them asking for it. I call this random acts of kindness, and in this we should always practice giving to others things they would not expect or think they would receive from you. It doesn’t have to be big or be purchased from a store, rather it could be something as simple as a smile, a hug, a handshake, saying hello, asking the other person if they need help with something, or it could be listening to them when they need you to just listen. In fact the name of this blog is Listening Faithfully because I make it my practice to take time out for God to just listen to His voice, read His words, tune into His will. In practicing this it’s not to hard then to do the same for others whom you claim you love. For love in it’s purest form listens, it is kind, it builds, it is forgiving, and it is the most powerful emotion we experience in this life and in the life after this one for it is of God for God is love.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” ~ Matthew 6:9-13
The second element comes with love for if you love and know God’s perfect love then you will naturally desire forgiveness and will naturally forgive others. In this desire words like suspicion, motives, and mistrust falls away to a child-like love, unselfish, and pure. Your forgiveness will grow to include all wrongs done against you no matter how painful no matter the person or people who were involved. True forgiveness comes from the heart, it comes from the deep desire to not harp, but rather move past the harmful or hurtful event. In this we must surely focus our attentions on the idea that when we forgive it is more for ourselves, rather than the wellbeing of others. In addition to this point I must forewarn you my brothers and sisters that not everyone will ask or want your forgiveness. Again in those moments it is better to purify your heart, do not take stock in the unwillingness of others rather the purity found in the act of forgiving and knowing that God will help you to reach this point. Those who are locked into the cycle of not forgiving and or not accepting or wanting others to forgive them generally have a hardened heart and thus, they are not rather cannot be open to this most gracious act you would bestow, and thus once again they are blind to the idea that their fruit has fallen and is rotten to the core upon the ground where it landed. Let this not be your fruit, for God wants all fruits to be good and lasting.
15 “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” ~1 Peter 2:15-17
Relationships cannot be forged if respect is not present, nor can there be a real relationship if fake respect is given. In this there was a fraud of the heart and in that you have not only defrauded yourself, the other person, but also God, the one who made you. Therefore, in all your relationships treat them with the respect you would like to receive and rejoice in the grace which follows. For it is God’s will for every man, women, and child ought to revere the works of the Lord, to respect every human being without prejudice, and to celebrate the whole of natures bounties as one work, and accepting all these things as the singular work of God; thus, in the denial of these truths is the same as renouncing God Himself. Again, to show respect is also demonstrating love, it is demonstrating forgiveness, it is demonstrating the Godly lifestyle we all are called to by Our Lord Jesus. Remember that God though is merciful he is also the one whom we are always answerable too, in this respect God first, yourself second, and mankind third, but the division between them is so slight not even the finest hair can be pushed in between. This is where the work becomes harder because there will be times when your respect for a person will begin to erode because of things they may have done in the past. In these moments love takes over, your forgiveness becomes anointed, and then your respect renewed, but it takes time and it takes the love you gain from knowing God first.
37 “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.” ~Matthew 22:37-38
Commitment is God’s legacy, one that he graciously gave to all of us, a promise that he has kept from the word words spoken that created Adam to the last word which will wipe away humanity within the rapture. For if nothing else God is committed to saving every last person that he can and His message has always been a faith message of salvation. So too should our words in our relationships resemble the words of God in that they are never-changing and reflect true commitment in every thing we do. Words made into action is the strongest testimony others could ever give on our behalf once we have passed away. Those words we all should aspire to be words of love, fond remembrance, and of true commitment. For in all relationships if you are committed to them will build you up, make you stronger, and will be blest by God. It is through this commitment in others will love be able to take root, when we make mistakes our loved ones will forgive us, and when we are renewed find a higher level of respect. Commitment is the one element most people seek and few of us every really find because it take work to maintain. Hence coming full circle we find the root of Gods commitment with us. Again there is no greater advocate, no greater protector, no greater savior, no greater love, and no greater devotion than that which we receive from God. In that fact if we make others feel this way in our relationships then surely goodness will follow you all the days of your life.
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As we head towards the season of Thanksgiving it is important to take note of all that we have to be thankful for. Like the disciples who learned all things are possible through the love and compassion of God so to can we the many sons and daughters of Christ make miracles happen for those who are in need and thus in our own way feed the multitude. I urge you to support inner city children through the gift of education by clicking the following link.