Chapter 49 – Relationships

 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive each other if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

– Colossians 3:12-14, NIV

Relationships are a huge and vital part of our lives. We are not supposed to live an isolated existence, but in community with others, as living relationships sustain us and keep us motivated. The Godhead Himself gives us the perfect example to follow – loving community between Father, Son and Spirit, each as important as the other. Our relationships in part shape who we are and who we become: the way we interact with our parents while growing up; the people we choose to spend time with at crucial points in our development such as school and university; the teachers who inspire us and shape the way we see the world; the people we surround ourselves with in our places of work – these things have unmistakable influence over our lives and the people that we become.

Our relationships not only shape who we are and some of our character traits and our understanding of the world, but also keep us growing and questioning and changing as life goes on. We cannot function without other people. Genesis 2:18 (NIV) says, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” But relationships are not always easy, and certainly not always simple. They require effort, commitment, patience, forgiveness, generosity. Relationships change us, and they make demands of us, and they challenge us. We need to surrender our relationships to God and allow Him to teach us how to live in love and harmony with those around us, letting Him speak to us through people and letting Him use us as His light to the people we know.

So may we surrender to God our relationships. Let us give into His hands our relationships with our neighbours, all those to whom we live in close proximity – those we know well as well as those we don’t know at all. May He use us as a light for Him in our streets, and may we allow Him to bless our neighbours through us. May His presence be known in our houses and our neighbourhoods as we live for Him.

Let us surrender to Him our relationships with our immediate families, and those we live with. Our relationships with our housemates. Our relationships with our spouses. Our relationships with our kids. Our relationships with our parents, if they live with us. Our relationships with the guests we host. May our houses be a place of peace, where God can touch people and speak to people, and may we be open to Him challenging and speaking to us through the people we live with. Those can be the people we love the most, and the people who trouble us or hurt us or annoy us the most. May we surrender those relationships to God, and let Him use them for His glory. May He guide us by His Spirit and teach us how to be good spouses, parents, housemates to those around us, that He might be honoured in our lives and in our relationships and in our houses.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

– Ephesians 4:2-3, NIV

Let us surrender to God our relationships with those we grew up with – our parents and our siblings. They have known us at our best and at our worst, and (in most cases) will care about us no matter what. They can hurt us more easily than most, too, because we grew up with them and we expect them to show us love and encouragement, even if they have let us down at times. We are emotionally attached to them, no matter how close to them we live or how close to them we feel. The way we speak to them and act towards them will have an impact on them – we are meaningful to them even when they do not show it. So let us surrender those relationships to God, and allow Him to speak through us, to show through us His love for our close relatives, to build His Kingdom through our relationships. Let us surrender to Him, and allow Him to also speak to us and teach us through our families. May He shape us into godly sons and daughters and brothers and sisters as we surrender those relationships into His hands.

And let us surrender to Him our relationships with our wider families, and our in-laws. We probably all have some relatives who don’t yet know Him, and He may want to use us to show Himself to those people. We may have relatives who are lonely or in some kind of need, and God may want to use us to build His Kingdom and bless those people. We may have relatives that we dislike or disagree with on major issues, and God may want to teach us valuable lessons through those relationships. May we surrender to Him our relationships with our relatives, and let Him use them how He may, and teach us through them.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.

Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV

May we surrender to Him our relationships with our close friends, those we spend time with, those we trust, those we value. Those relationships are more precious to us than most things in the world, and the things these people say and do towards us mean more to us than the words and actions of almost all other people in our lives. We look to those close friends for support, enjoyment, advice, cheering-up when we need it. We talk to them about what is going on in our minds and hearts. We value their input in our lives. May we surrender those relationships to God and let Him use them for His Kingdom. As we surrender may we be open to His leading, and follow His guidance. May He use us to speak into the lives of those people for His glory, and may He speak to each of us through them, too. May we surrender, and may those most meaningful relationships be a pleasing offering to Him.

May we surrender to Him, too, our relationships with our other friends, those we are not particularly close to. Who knows what He might want to do with those relationships if we will only surrender them into His hands. May we allow Him to use us, and keep our eyes open for opportunities that He might be presenting to us – opportunities to bless or give or build His Kingdom in some way. May we allow Him to speak through those friends into our lives too. May we surrender, and let Him have His way in us and in our relationships with our friends.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Proverbs 17:17, NIV

And let us give Him our relationships with our colleagues at work. These are some of the most valuable, influential and important relationships in our lives; the people we spend the most time with. Our relationships with our colleagues can shape our whole working-life experience. If we get on well with our colleagues then we will be much more likely to enjoy going to work than if we don’t get on well with them. So let us surrender those relationships to God, and allow Him to speak into them. May we let Him shine His light into our lives and use us as a witness to our colleagues. And may we be willing to be challenged, inspired and convicted by God through them. May we be open to His gentle voice and His leading while we are at work, even through our colleagues – whether or not we get on well with them.

Let us also surrender to God our brief and passing relationships with others we may come across at work, such as visitors and clients, and our relationships with casual acquaintances – those we see occasionally, and those we see more regularly but have little interest in. God may want to speak through us even to people we only meet once or twice. I knew a man who would every day share the Gospel with the people he came into contact with only briefly – such as shopkeepers and people he met on buses – and to my surprise many of them came to faith! Not all of us have this particular gift, but God can still use us and can speak through each of us to those we meet in passing, or those we regularly see but do not know well. Let us surrender to God, and stay open to whatever He may do!

Therefore, if you are in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

– 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, NIV

May we surrender into God’s hands our relationships with the people who trouble us, frustrate us or annoy us, the people we struggle with. Those relationships can test and stretch us, shaping our personalities and our very lives. So may we give those relationships to God and allow Him to teach us through them. May we allow Him to speak through us, to use us, and even to speak to us through those people that we don’t get on with. May we surrender those difficulties to Him, and see what He may do with them. This can be hard for us, but God is bigger than our struggles and our tough relationships, and He is able to deal with them and to show us the way. May we be open to His guidance, and give Him those relationships.

Finally may we give God the most important relationship in our lives – our relationship with God Himself. May this relationship guide all that we do, say and think. May He be the wind in our sails, the fire in our veins, the motive behind all that we do. May we surrender to Him and allow Him to lead us, to shape our relationship with Him and to show us more about Himself and how to love Him. May we surrender to Him each and every relationship in our lives, and think about them in relation to our relationship with Him. May we give our hearts to Him, giving Him space to speak and create and instruct and convict and inspire. As we surrender, may He show us His ways as we seek to walk with Him and honour Him in all our relationships.

 

Lord God, my first Love,

I give my heart to You.

Thank You for my friends and family, colleagues and acquaintances.

Thank You for teaching me through those relationships.

There are so many important relationships in my life, and I surrender them into Your hands.

I give You my relationships with my neighbours, those who live near me – those I know, and those I don’t.

God, please guide me by Your Spirit.

I surrender to You my relationships with those I live with.

God, please guide me by Your Spirit.

I give You my relationships with my parents, and my siblings.

God, please guide me by Your Spirit.

I surrender to You my relationships with my relatives and in-laws. 

God, please guide me by Your Spirit.

I give into Your hands my relationships with my close friends.

God, please guide me by Your Spirit.

I surrender to You my relationships with my other friends.

God, please guide me by Your Spirit.

I give You my relationships with my colleagues – those I know well and those I don’t.

God, please guide me by Your Spirit.

I surrender my relationships with the people I don’t get on with.

God, please guide me by Your Spirit.

And, Lord, I give You my relationship with You.

Father, please guide me by Your Spirit.

I surrender to You my heart – please fill me and lead me.

I give you every friendship and relationship.

Please use them how You wish, and use me in the ways You want to.

I give myself to You, and recognise my need for You each day.

Amen

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