How did your relationships fare during the Christmas get-togethers? Were there some rough patches you’d like to soon forget? Or was there joy and good cheer all around?
I yelled at my 88-year-old mother over the phone on Christmas day. Bad daughter. I had reminded her to do something regarding a financial matter and she told me that some lady told her it wasn’t necessary. She’s been let’s say, a little unwise with her finances and I lost my cool. I reacted instead of stopping and saying WWJD?
A few minutes after hanging up, I started feeling lousy. How could I yell at my mom on Christmas?! I called her back to apologize begging her forgiveness.
She’s become one of the “EGR” people as my pastor, Chuck Foreman, (First Christian Church of Phoenix) spoke about a few Sundays ago. EGR= Extra Grace Required.
For 88, mom’s doing pretty good even after major surgery and a long recovery. She’s home in Puerto Rico (I’m in Phoenix) and doing OK. But, she’s 88, set in her ways, and even though she seems to be “all there,” she’ll forget some things sometimes.
Anyway, Pastor Chuck has been sending me his sermon notes to use as material in this blog and here’s an excerpt of the sermon message of 12/18/11 entitled: “Going Home for Christmas: Unintended Destinations—-in My Relationships”. (Listen to the whole message here.)
There is nothing more important to God than our relationships.
Ironically, that’s where most of us have our biggest issues. We’ve driven some giant wedges between ourselves and some people. We hang on to hurts, resentments & we’ve either written people off or we’ve fallen into an ungodly pattern of how we live with and treat them. We might even tell them, “The last thing I want to do is hurt you.” But it’s still on the list.
There are some things I’ve noticed about people—about us.
Christians are often the guiltiest of this tendency, especially when we’ve been a Follower of Christ for a long time. We stop really following Jesus and just settle in. We stop growing. Over time, our Christianity becomes more defined by our routine of attending Christian Stuff –going to church, prayer, Bible Studies, concerts, conferences, meetings—Our Christianity is more about that kind of routine than really behaving and living as Jesus would. We stop paying attention to our attitudes & how we respond to people.
When was the last time you stopped to take inventory of yourself, and genuinely, honestly take a long, hard look in the spiritual mirror and asked Jesus, “How am I doing, Lord?”
Without realizing it, we settle in to a negative pattern of treating people. Sometimes it’s only certain people, but how we view them & treat them is so un-Christ-like that we would be shocked if we saw the video playback of our own behavior toward them.
We tend to excuse ourselves thinking that certain people or groups of people don’t apply. It doesn’t really matter how we treat them. For some reason, they are the exception. This happens in marriage, with other family members, parents to children, children to parents, between siblings, in friendships, & in work relationships. No relationship is immune to the abuse of un-love.
Who is it that you exempt yourself from treating in a Christ-like way?
We break God’s Law by violating each other’s personal boundaries. Before we get into this, What is the purpose of the Old Testament (OT) Law? –and of our subsequent modern laws, all of which are based in some way on the OT Biblical Law. Here’s the purpose of the Law…are you ready? The purpose of the law is to protect us from each other.
In 1992, Henry Cloud & John Townsend wrote a great book called Boundaries. In leadership circles, we often refer to the parts of this book that talk about setting personal boundaries so we don’t get burned out. In other words, workaholics like me need to learn to say NO, etc. But most of this great book is for people who violate the God-given, personal boundaries of others by trying to control them. You see, for some of us, everything has to be “just so” & done “just so”. We impose our hang-ups on those around us, usually those closest to us. We become control freaks, trespassing on the lives of other people—in areas we really have no right to and usually about things that matter only to us. No relationship is healthy or desirable when personal boundaries are continually violated.
We Settle In… Violate others personal Boundaries, and We all have…
These are very special people. Bless their hearts! They’re in a world all to themselves—because their world is all about themselves. They have achieved the honor of belonging to their own category of living things. This category is even denoted by an acronym—E-G-R, which stands for Extra Grace Required! We all know some people who fall into this category.
We all have difficult people in our lives. Some of us have become difficult people. We all have relationships that are not what they should be—not what they could be. Often the single most dishonoring area of our lives to God is our relationships.
I’m convinced from scripture and listening to Jesus in the NT that there is nothing more important to God than our relationships with other people—-all the people in our lives and all the people we meet. According to Jesus, love for God cannot be separated from love for people. He never, ever separated what He called the “2nd Commandment” from the “1st or Greatest Commandment:” Read Matthew 22:36-40
And Jesus gave us The Golden Rule: Matthew 7:12
Don’t forget The Parable of the Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37
(Read WWJD blog post: Love Your Neighbor)
Jesus’ best friend, the Apostle John, put it this way: I John 4:7-8 & I John 4:19-21
You say, “I don’t hate so-and-so, I just can’t stand him/her!” You know, we’re not gonna feel warm fuzzies for everyone. How do you treat them?—is the question. Do your actions toward this person speak of love, or do they speak of disdain, even hate?
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The last of the “Going Home for Christmas” series was Christmas Eve. I’ll have that one up shortly. Subscribe so you don’t miss it. It was a great message.
Soli Deo Gloria!
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