A good detective spends his days searching for the answers to these common questions in order to solve the mystery. A three year old spends her days with the same questions, seeking to figure out the world around her. As our thoughts turn toward New Year’s resolutions and bettering ourselves, let’s take some time to examine a few of these questions, particularly as they relate to our relationships with others.
Who can I befriend?
It is natural for all individuals to gravitate toward those with whom we have the most in common. This is no different for us within the church. It can, however, become a problem, and often does, when we focus on those within our circle to the neglect of those without. Close friendships with our brothers and sisters are a blessing. However, staying in our comfort zone can hinder us from seeing and helping “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Is there a sister that I can befriend with a kind word or deed? Let’s purpose to make an effort each week to seek out a fellow member of the body with whom we don’t normally associate. We may find that our circle keeps growing!
This is a valid question for even the strongest of Christians because relationships are fluid. We grow, change, and continually learn more about each other, as any married couple can attest. In our relationship with The Father, He knows all and does not change, so it is our job to do the changing, growing, and learning (cf. Psalm 139:1-4, Malachi 3:6). Are there stumbling blocks that are weighing me down (Hebrews 12:1)? Are my thoughts consumed with the physical and not the spiritual (Colossians 3:2)? Is my time spent in the Word lacking (2 Tim 2:15)? Has my prayer life all but ceased (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? All relationships go through ebbs and flows, but we serve a God who provides us tools and support to help us when we are in a rut. Let’s purpose each day to grow closer to Him so that our light will shine brighter for Him (Matthew 5:16).
When should I be selfish?
The word selfish often carries with it a negative connotation, and rightfully so. However, the word simply means; manifesting concern or care only for oneself. Is it ever okay for me to be selfish? Consider the example of Mary and Martha. Martha was distracted with much serving, but Mary chose the good part in taking time to sit at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus often went off by Himself to be alone with God (cf. Mark 6:45-46, 14:32-34, Luke 5:16). “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Constant toil is not good for the body or the soul. On the opposite end of the spectrum, idleness is condemned (1 Timothy 5:13). However, taking time for oneself is not only acceptable; it is very much needed so that we can continue faithfully serving others. It is difficult to do in our busy lives, but let’s purpose to make taking care of ourselves a priority.
This question for self-reflection is geared toward the mothers of young children, of which I am one. The most important relationship we have on earth, second only to God, is the one with our husband. Yet, it is so easy for our energy to be consumed with the daily grind of cleaning, refereeing children, and preparing nourishing meals so that our husbands receive the leftovers of our energy. Does he really like back rubs? Is he most built up with a sweet love note left on the seat of his car? Whatever your husband’s love language, let’s purpose to make him a priority each day (Ephesians 5:33).
Why haven’t I mentioned it?
We all have relationships with those who aren’t members of the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). It may be a family member we see at gatherings throughout the year, or another mom we talk to each week at soccer practice. As women, we often like to talk, and we can converse with our worldly friends on any number of subjects with great ease. However, when it comes to matters of eternal consequence, the words don’t always come so easily. I’m afraid we often take the smoothest path and hope that living a Christian example in their presence will speak for itself. Our Christian example is of utmost importance in all relationships, but sometimes our example can go a lot further if we season it with some salty words (Colossians 4:6). There are plenty of resources available on how to start a simple spiritual conversation. Let’s purpose to pray for courage and opportunities to not only show our non-Christian friends how to live, but to speak to them about it as well.
By Kathryn Baker
Kathryn and her husband Andy live in San Marcos, TX and worship with the University church of Christ where Andy has served as the Associate/Youth Minister for 6 years. She stays at home with their 2 daughters and enjoys teaching Bible classes to children and ladies.