“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Relationships are vitally important to our journey with Jesus on The Path. It is a simple and timeless truth: Everything works better in life when our relationships are healthy and strong. When they go right, relationships are the source of our greatest happiness and fulfillment. When they go wrong, relationships are the source of our greatest sorrow and pain.
We are created for community. We are designed to be in relationships. God designed relationships to be the foundation of every human institution. Indeed, the effectiveness of any institution (family, team, government agency, business, ministry) depends on the strength of the human system that supports it. The fastest way to weaken any institutional system is to weaken the relationships of the people in the system.
This is why it is essential to be wise and skillful in how we interact with others. We must be exceptional in our relationships, both personal and professional. At home and at work. In the community and in government. In the church.
Strong relationships empower families, businesses, teams, ministries, and communities to accomplish incredible things. Sports provides a dramatic example. When a team wins a championship, it is virtually guaranteed you will hear them credit their success to the chemistry, cohesion, and closeness of the team. Most often talk about how much they love each other. When a team of athletes has an uncommon level of commitment to each other, they perform and achieve at an uncommon level.
Sadly, the opposite is also true. Broken relationships do great damage to families, businesses, teams, ministries, and communities. A glaring—and heartbreaking—example of harmful and destructive interpersonal dynamics is the toxic nature of social and political discourse in our nation. The fabric of American society is being torn apart by partisan squabbles that have escalated into open hostility and antagonism.
Let me say it again: The effectiveness of any institutional system depends on the strength of the human system that supports it. The fastest way to weaken any community of people is to weaken the relationships of the people in the community. This is why we must walk in wisdom and not get pulled off-path.
The Enemy knows this, which is why he often tempts and attacks us through our relationships. How does the enemy destroy a marriage? Get someone in the marriage to be foolish and contentious. How does the enemy destroy a ministry? Get someone in leadership to be foolish and contentious. How does the enemy destroy a business or a team? By getting people in the business or on the team to be selfish, foolish, and contentious. How does the enemy destroy a society? By getting people in the community to be selfish, foolish, and contentious (especially on social media).
Most insidiously, the Enemy blinds people to their own contribution to the discord, and deceives them into believing that the primary problem lies with the other person/people. The result will be what it says in Galatians 5.20: Some form of “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions.”
We must … we must … invest in our relationships. As I said at the start, relationships are vitally important to everything we do in life.
“Let love be genuine. Reject what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” (Romans 12.9)