Good Life is Built on Good Relationships
by Ronnie Lee
Can’t remember when I last wrote for the bulletin, but it’s always a struggle to find something to write about. As I sit back recuperating from the “hay fever” I contracted in Melbourne, Australia, I stumble on a common question everyone asked at some point in their lives. That is, “how would one generally keep himself/herself happy and healthy through this Christian Life?”
A 75 year old study showed that many perceived that riches would be the main determinant in making one happy throughout their lives. Others said being famous would make them happy. Many claimed that high achievements in their work would definitely make them happy. This long drawn study, which is still being pursued, derived at 3 big lessons about relationships:
- Social connection is good and loneliness kills.
- Not the number of friends/relationships that we have, but the quality of relationships will protect our bodies
- Good close relationships (may not be smooth all the time) protect our brains.
This interesting study (already into the 4th generation), from the tens of thousands of information generated from the lives studied, thus concluded that Good Life is Built on Good Relationships.
- First of all, is life about being rich, famous or working hard for our careers?
For that the book of Ecclesiastes has got lots to offer. Eccl 5:10,12,18-20 (NIV)10 Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.
18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.
The bible encourages us to be content and not to labor for the wind (Eccles 5:16). Phil 4:11-12, Paul wrote 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Content here means, “pleased and satisfied : not needing more.”
- If Good Life is Built on Good Relationship, then what does Good Relationship means?
First of all, what does a “relationship” means? It’s the quality or state of being related; connection” and relation as “a person connected with another or others by blood, marriage, etc.” [“Webster’s,” 1999, p. 1209].
So when applied to people, a relationship is a connection which results in our belonging together in some unique recognizable way. In brief, a relationship is a significant connection which results in mutual identification. In other words– If we have a relationship, we have some vested interest in each other
- What does the bible say about the importance of good relationship?
There is one perfect relationship which we observed in the Bible, that of God the Father with God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. There are 3 learnings about this perfect relationship as described in John 17.
(1) A relationship based on giving, expecting nothing in return (verses 2, 6-8, 24). Swapping is not giving.
(2) A relationship is based on knowledge (verses 1-3, 17). What makes a relationship so difficult is that we have to know something about each other. Jesus, being God, already knew God the Father, but concerning His disciples, He prayed, “3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (NKJV).
(3) A relationship is based upon submission (verse 4). Jesus was in complete submission to the Father, even though both of them were God. Jesus said, “4 …I have finished the work which You (Father) have given Me (the Son) to do.” This was not some mutual decision about what was to be done but work given by the Father to be done by the Son. Ephesians 5:21, Paul said, be subject to one another because relationships require submission. Paul’s examples are wives to husbands (5:22), the church to Christ (5:22-23), children to parents (6:1-3), and slaves to masters (6:5-8). In any positive relationship, someone will always be in submission to someone else. Sometimes submission changes with circumstances. If I’m taking a ride in your car, I’m in submission to you. If you are taking a class from me, you are in submission to me. But we are always to be in submission to Christ, to our elders, for a wife to her husband, or to parents by a child. Of course, submission should stop at the point where it means to disobey God. This should also apply to any relationship.
A bad relationship is one which encourages sin. So biblically, bad relationships are those which lead one another to sin not those which are disharmonious. In 1 Corinthians 5, the church had a harmonious bad relationship with an unrepentant adulterer. Paul created disharmony via excommunication in order to restore a good relationship via repentance.
- Can a bad relationship become a GOOD Relationship?
(1) Good relationships come from the intent of the heart. In Genesis we read that, except for Noah and his family, God gave up on His relationship with everybody on earth because…every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually (Gen 6:5). Through Isaiah, God said of Israel, … this people… honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me (Isa 29:13). Bad relationships require a change of heart.
(2) Good relationships depend on repentance and forgiveness. Since we are all sinners, we must always be sensitive to repent of our sin against God and our wrong done to each other. Pride is the enemy of good relationships and must be put aside if a bad relationship is to become a good one. Bad relationships become good only with repentance and forgiveness.
(3) Good relationships depend on love, defined as giving, which does the best possible good for the other person (John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 13). Love does not necessarily give someone what they want but what is the best possible good for them. Love looks for what’s the best for the other person, then presents it in a way which is patient, kind, not jealous, not bragging, not arrogant, not unbecoming, not self-seeking, not provoking, not taking into account a wrong suffered. Instead, love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:1-7). Bad relationships only become good applying this definition of loving giving.
(4) Good relationships require voluntary regular ongoing conversation. Amongst the 12 disciples, Jesus had the closest relationship with Peter. The most obvious characteristic about Peter is not that he was the most correct student but that he talked a lot. He was usually the first to ask a question, make a comment, or offer an objection or opinion (Matthew 14:25-30; 15:15; 16:16; 17:4). Bad relationships only become good with ongoing conversation.
- Bringing all together
We need to continually build good relationships within the Church so that as a body of Christ, we will all have a good life. A life that would fortify our brains and keeping our physical as well as spiritual bodies strong. A quality relationship that wil keep us socially connected and will crowd out the loneliness in us in this earthly journey to our heavenly home. If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:7. I may not be able to write any longer for a small section in this bulletin, but go read the entire book of first John to get to know the wonderful relationship that we have with God the father and Jesus Christ His Son. This good and perfect relationship is only found in Christ – Rom 8:1.
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