This week the MDB articles will be written by my dear friend, Shane Blackmer. Thanks Shane!
17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:17-19 NKJV)
The depth of God’s love is that it can receive and cover the sins of EVERY repentant sinner EVERY time! What does this realization do to how we handle our relationships?
Over the past several months I have been challenged in my relationships at home and at work. I know I am not alone is this. All of us are challenged as husbands, fathers, brothers, neighbors, professionals…to fulfill our responsibilities, to love unconditionally despite disappointment and sorrow. It seems we often view people for how they hurt us. We have trouble getting past it. We can’t forgive, forget, trust, grow…this seems like a natural response and challenge. Further, what seems natural to us men is to “fix it”. We try to go after the relationship problems and either fix the “issue” or even worse “the other person”. This is a trap…and a lot of times everyone loses. So what should we do?
I have learned that in my life I have spent a great deal of time thinking and worrying about what other people think and feel. Don’t get me wrong…having a genuine concern for others and humbling ourselves in relationships is not a bad thing. The trouble starts when we become solely focused on the other person or lose perspective on the relationship. If we have an outward perspective, we are missing the most important relationship…our relationship with God.
Do you believe that this relationship is the most important? Do you believe that if this relationship is broken all other relationships suffer? Do you believe we can completely miss this and spend all of our time working on the wrong relationships? I do. I have! What I should do is come to the realization David did:
4Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. (Psa. 51:4 NKJV)
In doing this, I can first get my most fundamental and important relationship right…be reconciled with my Heavenly Father so that I am in a position to be reconciled to my wife, children, brethren, colleagues, etc. What this does is takes all the judgment, condemnation, resentment I feel for others and turns it inward. I acknowledge first and foremost I am a sinner…we all are! Yet, when we sin, come to ourselves, confess, and repent…God forgives us! And a life forgiven is a life worth living and an empowered life in which we can forgive and love others.
And here is the kicker…God forgives me every time I ask Him with a repentant heart. Think about that for a minute. Think about all times you sin in a day. Think about how many people there are on this planet. Think about all the times we sin in a day…billions of times…and God is ready to forgive every one of them. Is that not a deep love?
If we think about that…about how God is the first person rejected in every relationship that is in err…and He is willing and able to forgive every time…won’t that change the way we see conflict in our relationships. Won’t we come to understand that no matter how much another person hurts us…it is no more than how much we hurt our Father every day. Won’t we see the grace, mercy, love, and hope we have with our Father despite this terrible wrong we have committed…and think about how we might have that same kind of heart for others?
If we do, we can go from being hurt “because of” someone else and go to being hurt “for” someone else. We realize that we are all struggling to make our way through this life and we are all rejecting our Father and bringing great grief upon ourselves. So let’s do our part to bring Him back to the center of our relationships by ensuring He is in the center of our individual lives.
With this in mind, let’s spend the week looking at Psalm 32 (read Psalm 51 too…they go great together) and consider how David figured this out…because he didn’t get it right at first. He struggled with trying to deal with his sin alone…the influence this had on his relationships…and how he came to repentance, confession and forgiveness and how much more effective he could be as a husband, father…as a man in the world.
We can’t expect our relationships to improve if we haven’t worked on our first relationship…with God. Once I come to that realization, that we have first sinned against our Father and He is faithful to forgive me, I am well positioned to work on other relationships and demonstrate the same love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and hope…so let’s start with us and get that right first. Looking forward to a great week with you.