We see from Ephesians 5 and Genesis 2 that God intended for human beings to be bound closely to each other. Whether we are someone’s spouse or someone’s relative, friend or colleague, our actions affect others as well as ourselves. The decisions we make usually have an impact on those close to us, whether we realize it or not. Most likely you know people who have lost sight of this. They have made a complete hash of their lives, not realizing that their misfortunes cause pain for others as well as for themselves.
The writer John Donne recognized the importance of relationship. In one of his Devotions, he eloquently expressed the importance of our lives to those around us: “No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore, never send to know for who the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Romans 14:7 says, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.” Clearly, God intends for us to live in fellowship with others—God included. Selfish behavior has no part in the lives of those who seek to walk with God. Therefore, we must strive to base our actions and decisions on the way they will affect not only ourselves but those who care about us.
- Can you name an occasion when someone did something or made a decision that affected you negatively?
- Can you name a time when you did something or made a decision that affected someone else negatively?
- What did you learn from those instances?
- Write a prayer, thanking God for the relationships in your life, listing as many as you can think of. If you don’t want to try to list every member of church, you may write “my church family.” Every day for the next week, sit down with your prayer and read it aloud to God, asking for guidance in being the best relative, friend and colleague you can be to the people on your list.
- Think of someone in particular who seems to be better than anyone else you know at making bad decisions. It does not even have to be someone you know well or are friends with. It could be someone in your community that everyone knows is having a difficult time. Remember that person in prayer each day, asking God to guide that person into making decisions that are more loving toward God, toward others and toward themselves.
- The biggest compliment you can pay another person is to listen. The next time someone comes to you with a litany of problems, listen. Make eye contact, and let that person know you really are listening. Sometimes just knowing one other person knows and cares is enough to make us want to do something positive.