Quick review of last journal’s preface (or scroll down to “relationships”):
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
C O L O S S I A N S 4 : 5 – 6
O P P O R T U N I T Y.
What is the one thing that every person with vision desires? It’s opportunity. They have the skills, desire, passion and plans, they just need the right person or circumstance to come around and give them a chance. Haven’t you heard? It’s all about Who you know.
Have you ever desired an opportunity to be used by the Lord? A lot of us have this desire right now. We want to help others understand that living a life with the Lord, “through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16) is the most freeing, fulfilling and beautiful thing anyone can experience. The problem is, we think we need the perfect opportunity before we can start doing some serious Kingdom work for the Lord. You may think you need more influence, a big enough platform, a title or to be publicly affirmed by another person before your “calling-career” can be launched. It’s easy to believe making the most of your opportunity is merely sharing the gospel to nonbelievers through social media platforms, using your free time to serve, or to work towards a ministry position. Don’t get me wrong, those are all amazing opportunities to shine your light and if that what God has called you to do, then be obedient in that. But, what if your opportunity was already given to you?
What if the real question is: are you making the most of the opportunity?
As we read His word, specifically Colossians, we learn about what our greatest opportunity looks like and two responsibilities we have to make the most of it:
- prudent behavior/conduct (vs. 5)
- relationships (vs. 6)
These are two things that allow us to make the most of the opportunity already given to us. Anything beyond this, is the work of the Lord. For example, you are responsible for making the most of your time by focusing on prudent behavior and love through relationships, God can then trust you with more responsibility, a greater audience, and new opportunity. It is a matter of being a good steward.
***I will be focusing on relationships in this journal entry. Please read the previous journal entry to read about prudent behavior.
r e l a t i o n s h i p s
“Do not be fooled, bad company corrupts good morals.”
1 C o r i n t h i a n s 1 3 : 3 3
It is important to be prudent when choosing our closest friendships, because the truth is we can’t afford to invest in the ones that end up hindering our emotional and spiritual health. Don’t misunderstand the purpose of this blog. We are very much called to love all people and to share the love of God with those that have not yet experienced it yet, but I want to remind you of the one thing that all relationships need: boundaries.
If your relationships:
1. cause you to fall into a sinful lifestyle
2. threaten your emotional health
3. keep you from being the woman (or man) God has called you to be
4. drive you away from the Lord
5. never make you better, but worse
6. cause you to be brought down more than you are able to lift others up
7. take the place of God (i.e. they become an idol in your life)
then, you are not setting the necessary boundaries to love this person from a distance. Not every friendship is meant to be a close one. In the grand scheme of things, it is always better to be healthy before being close. We need to think prudently with our future in mind. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting your relationship with the Lord and your emotional health before investing in others. If we are unable to be spiritually and emotionally healthy on our own, then we are unable to be used as a beacon of light in a dark world through healthy relationships.
And I am not only referring to non christian friendships; I am also talking about setting healthy boundaries in our Christian ones! Because contrary to popular belief, or maybe just plain denial, there can very well be just as much dysfunction, idolizing and sin in Christian relationships as there are in secular ones. Humans are humans: weak and fickle at times.
How good is our God? He knew in that our weakness we wouldn’t be able to withstand the temptation of investing in unhealthy relationships leading down a dark road so He warns us! Refer to 1 Corinthians 13:33. It would be foolish to try and prove that I’m able to stand on my own strength (more like weakness) in the midst of a majority of people that challenge God’s truth, without forfeiting my own personal values at some point. The fact is, it doesn’t matter who I think I am or how strong I think I am, my humanity will quickly remind me that I am not above temptation or any sin. It doesn’t matter if I have convinced both myself and the world that I am OK venturing out on my own, God knows better. Without Him, I’m too weak to handle it. That is why He has called us to His community.
For the sake of the journal entry we will set a general “Relationship Rule” that states the following:
we are free to invest into relationships with others, both romantic and platonic, as long as these relationships do not cause us to be physically, emotionally or spiritually unhealthy by leading us away from Christ and His plan for our lives.
Relationships vs. Community
So, we are called to go out into the world and share the love of Christ with others who don’t know Him by building relationships (apply Relationship Rule), but we are also called to invest in a strong community of believers. It doesn’t have to be a ridiculously large group either! Genuine friends are hard to come by, so if you have found a few positive and encouraging friends that share your desire to know God more and play a role in His plan, in addition to inspiring you to be better, for goodness sake, invest in that community!
If you do not currently have a community like this, I’d say it’s time to pray for these people and to make some moves to find them. In my personal opinion, joining church groups (not just attending Sunday service) are the best way to meet new, solid people. And I promise there are some pretty cool people out there that love the Lord. For some reason people think it’s hard to believe that Christians can be normal.
When choosing the company (or community) you keep:
- You give them permission: By simply investing your time into people, you are essentially giving them permission to play an active role in the journey of who you will become. This is huge. This is why it is important to surround yourself with people that make you better. Are you surrounding yourself with people that make you be more of who God created you to be? If you were to rub off on each other, do you guys end up sharpening one another like iron, or is it more like two sticks trying to start a fire? If you are looking to grow into a more kind, loving, wise, mature, God-fearing, passionate and bold individual, you better believe you need to start investing in friendships with people who desire the same. God gives us the wisdom and opportunity to do so. Discipleship itself is not merely a classroom setting where you sit and learn to be like the teacher, but it is learning by experiencing life through relationships. Do you have friends that you trust to give you God-honoring advice, and are you able to do the same? Because you are essentially trusting them with who you will become whether you know it or not.
- They help shape your mindset: For example, if you surround yourself with a crowd of people that unceasingly tell you that blue is red, after awhile you begin to question your own sanity even though you know that blue is definitely not red. A truth that you used to be so sure of at one point, now becomes cloudy and confusing to you. Your mindset needs renewing, because it has been slowly warped by the majority that you have chosen to surround yourself with. We must hold onto God’s truth in the highest regard. We are better to forfeit certain friendships, then to allow anyone to get in between us and His truth. We never want to willingly put ourselves on a path of misleading deception, but instead on one that keeps our hearts and our minds constantly nourished with the truth. One path leads to a life of destruction, and one protects you from it.
- You start to look like them: For example, in my first couple of years of high school, the majority of my friends stemmed from my honors classes so I grew very academically conscious. But, when I started hanging with a different crowd that loved the party scene, guess where I ended up? And when my most of my friends started getting boyfriends, guess who found a boyfriend??? This girl. And I didn’t even really want one! But, that’s neither here nor there. Even subconsciously we start to look, act, even think like those we surround ourselves by. If you hang out with a group of people that do nothing but cuss all day long, chances are you’ll soon find yourself comfortable doing the same thing. Find yourself in a community of people that believes waiting until your married before having sex is not possible or even worth it, and you will probably find yourself compromising your values. Let’s not be fooled on this. We are a bunch of followers no matter how much we want to try and deny it. Let’s just make sure we are with those that are following the right One.
Learn from my mistakes
As I have mentioned before, I have this incredible gratitude for the close-knit community that I have been blessed with in my life. I have a few extremely close friends that I know God has put in my life to bless, sharpen, help, support, encourage, laugh and enjoy life with (at least in this season). I have also had friendships that ended up tearing me down and were very much the opposite of a blessing. Let’s call these toxic. I failed to set proper boundaries even when God revealed just how much He wasn’t blessing them. If I would have been obedient to take His word as truth and discontinue my efforts to invest in relationships that were just never going to change, it would have kept me from a lot of sin and let down. This is why it is always best to be obedient the first time we hear Him, because we will end up paying the consequences. Also, we must remember that we are not victims here. We have the freedom of decision to set boundaries that keep us from sin and dysfunction. We must choose these on our own, and if not, we are choosing to remain connected to those that will unquestionably corrupt our best intentions to please the Lord.
Most of us have had to deal with people (maybe even our own family members) that have had a negative impact on our life. It is always best to set boundaries in these relationships to keep you from a sinful lifestyle that drives you away from the Lord and from ones that do not allow you to grow emotionally and spiritually. And it is always best to invest in a solid community of believers that will help you grow in the individual that God always created you to be. If we are unable to healthy in our relationships we do more damage then the good we want to do.
- As we wrap up 2015, take a good look at the relationships that you currently keep. Are there any that God might be asking you to set boundaries with or even letting go of before the new year? The goal is to be spiritually and emotionally healthy, while investing healthy relationships.
- Ask yourself, do you have a few solid christian’s around that you can trust to care about your well being and to grow with? If not, what are you going to do to change that so you start off the new year on the right foot? Prudent behavior is always blessed in the end.
Thank you for reading. ♥