January 1, 2014

In 2014 we need to take a better approach to our relationships

I spent most of the first day of 2014 reading Philippians 2. I want to start this year off on the right foot. This is a part of my New Year's Resolution, part of my "Year of Recovery"...

The apostle Paul wrote the book of Philippians to the church in Philippi, like so many churches today, they had some pretty big disagreements and suffered from self-centeredness. While he was imprisoned, Paul encouraged them to take a better approach to their relationships. They weren't rebellious like those at the church in Corinth but they did have their issues with unity.

His straightforward rebuff can also be applied to those not in the Church... 

If you think about it, a hefty amount of conflicts boil down to one thing: selfishness.


Disagreements happen because we're thinking more about ourselves, our feelings and our right to be right.

Often our solution to solving such conflict is to avoid the people we're having conflict with. We refrain from having to deal with them by ignoring their calls, switching jobs, churches, move out of the neighbourhood, unfriending them from Facebook… We attempt to rub them out of our lives completely.

Selfishness has a few filthy cousins: envy, jealousy, contentiousness, conceit, pride, and arrogance. I want none of them to have any place in my personality. If we want to have better lives, better relationships, these are not character traits any of us should have.

Paul writes in Philippians 2:3-4, we are to "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."

If we lived with others in mind, life would be filled with much more Peace and Joy!

Paul goes on further in the chapter to say, we're to live "without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of Life" (vs. 14-16a).

If you want to stand out from the crowd - you'll need to live at a higher standard! 

It is not necessary for us to always have the same opinions regarding life, matters of faith or practices. Even Paul disagreed with other apostles from time to time. It's good to have differences of opinion, it stretches our understanding of life, of God, His Word, and His purpose for us on this planet.

However, we must be very careful not to let differences of opinion destroy a person's belief, faith, or the mission and testimony of the Church.

Be content, peaceable, and be seen as a beacon of light, shining out clearly!

We don't have to do this in our own strength, "For it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you {energizing and creating in you the power and desire}, both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight" (vs. 13).

I want people to spend time with me and say, "There's something different about her!" in a good way. :)  It's my responsibility, as I share the love of God with others, through my day-to-day living, my words and actions, and not just when the Pastor's watching or behind the church walls... I want to be a good example, I want to represent Him well.

If you want to be a good representative of Christ, you need to know who Christ is. He never put himself first. He lived and died to meet the needs of others. He didn't cling to His rights or privileges. In fact, He set His rights aside, in humility, to serve us.

Part of a Christian's journey towards spiritual maturity is to become more like Him. His only mandate is that we love God and other people. Nothing else. It's pure in it's simplicity. We are to encourage, comfort, share, be tender and compassionate, as Christ is, and not only when it's beneficial to us. We need to live in humility, serving others, at every chance we get, including when no one is looking.

If we don't, if we're too busy with quarrels, arguing among ourselves, gossiping and grumbling, holding grudges, entertaining whispers of doubt, pushing our way to the front to be noticed, then we're not living as Christ, and then His teachings, His life and His death was for not.

These verses are great to meditate on as you enter 2014.

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: 
Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. 
Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. 
Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. 
Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.
~ Philippians 2:1-4 and 13-16

Happy 2014!

4 comments:

  1. love it shannon. I think all of us should strive to support, love and help those around us. I believe we get more from sharing and giving, than from withholding and keeping to ourselves.
    Enjoy the journey!

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    1. supporting and loving is much better than gossiping and arguing. here's to a FAB 2014!

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  2. Love this. Well said, Shannon!

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    1. thanks Sherrie, it's been a work in progress but in order for a year of recovery, it needed to be done. :)

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Thanks for taking the time to comment!!