My heart always aches when I am reminded of what was lost when sin entered the Garden in Genesis 3: 8-9,
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’”
Imagine, Adam and Eve recognized the sound of God strolling through the Garden! In the beginning, Adam and Eve enjoyed fellowship with God as they took in the beauty of all that He had made! I am pained at the loss of such intimacy in relating to God; however, I am encouraged as I am reminded that God did not abandon us forever. John 3:17 declares, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
In my last entry I talked about how we have been designed by God for relationships, first and foremost with Him. We were also created for relationships with others; loving one another in the same manner as we desire to be loved. We examined the benefits of relationships (“Two are better than one . . .”) as they are laid out in Ecclesiastes 4:9-11. However, because relationships can be difficult we then zeroed in on verse 12: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” With Christ as the necessary “third strand” in our human relationships, we discover the secret ingredient to growing spiritually mature (gaining wisdom) through those relationships.
So where do we go from here with unresolved problems in our relationships? The key to gaining wisdom in relationships is learning to rely on the Scriptures for God’s perspective on ourselves and the world around us with the help of the Holy Spirit. The following are some of the passages we talk about in the Counseling Room that have been found helpful:
- We remember and give thanks to God that His intent for us is blessing in trials. James 1:2-4 tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Verse 5 establishes our Source of gaining wisdom in every challenge we face: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
- We remember and confess our need for God’s grace. Romans 3:22, 23 declares, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
- We remember Christ’s admonition as to how we are to relate to others. Jesus said in Luke 6:42, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
- We remember God’s goodness as we rely on Him to help us battle sin. Romans 12:9 provides the basis for our every action: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” In so doing, we identify what is sin before God, not making excuses or shifting blame to someone else.
- Last but most certainly not least, we remember to check our motives. Who are we trying to please? What do we hope to accomplish? To keep our motives pure, honoring Christ in all that we say or do must be our priority. Proverbs 4:23 warns, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 cautions, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”
There’s no doubt about it, working through relationship difficulties provide some of the greatest challenges over a lifetime. Humanly, we try to avoid those difficulties. However, it is as we learn to address relational difficulties with God’s help that we find our greatest opportunity in gaining true wisdom. What is our bottom line? When in doubt give thanks that God is not finished with you, me or the other person!
All to His Glory!