by Pastor Tim Burt
I was watching a National Geographic movie on Volcanoes which was fascinating. One of the things they showed was that anything in the path of lava flow is absolutely destroyed.
It made me think of being around two people, married or not, whose once close relationship has now become toxic. When negative and antagonistic words begin to flow, they each become one standing in the path of each other’s lava flow. They become each other’s victim of destruction.
Where do their troubles begin and how did they get so bad? The potential for trouble is in every relationship from their very beginning. When you meet someone you like, you enjoy the new acquaintance. If things go well the relationship continues and possibly gets stronger and more enjoyable. It’s so fun to meet someone you enjoy and have it develop into a deeper relationship. In that stage, you mostly see the good in your new friend. Your ability to overlook quirks is as strong as your attraction to that person—the more you like them, the more you overlook their quirks. Only people who have been brutally hurt from previous relationships hold back with suspicion. For a budding relationship, the newness can last for a long time. But, there will be a time when the newness ends. Inevitably faults and shortcomings become noticed and desires and expectations for particular behaviors begin to be formed. And that is where the potential for trouble begins.
As most people look back on their life, they agree that they have grown up in semi-dysfunctional atmospheres. Certain negative behaviors are imparted to us through the home and living atmospheres we grew up in including parents, siblings, friends, and others we spent time around. They become a part of who we are. And then there is sin. Sin creates a level of dysfunction in all of us. Then one day we grow up and meet people we like, but bring those dysfunctions to the relationship. And eventually they become exposed and named or blamed by those whom we drew close to. Thus the hurt and pain begins.
None of us are perfect. If you will allow me to be brutally honest, most of us are very far from being perfect. Our shortcomings are always going to come out. They do have the potential to create trouble. We’ve added defensiveness to our list of dysfunctions because we develop it in trying to protect ourselves.
So where does this all lead us? Some end up going through relationships like light bulbs. They burn out over an x amount of time and become discarded and replaced with another relationship. This can lead to a pretty callous heart over time.
What God intended was that we learn to “Speak the truth in love.” Ephesians 4:14 says that troubled relationships are ultimately the result of immaturity—people still acting like children. God says that learning to “Speak the truth in love” is the work and development of maturity. Ephesians 4:15 says, “Instead (instead of acting immature,) speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
I wish I could write a simple devotion telling you exactly how to solve relational difficulties and speak the truth in love, but there is no magic bullet. I am sure there have been volumes written on the subject and I know I’ve written about it many times before. But the truth is, learning how to sit down with those you love and work through disagreements and difficulties is work—hard work. Many mistakes are made and it doesn’t always work out well in the beginning. BUT, I promise you that if you work at it, you will get better and better at it. You must make yourself accountable to God as you try to navigate through protecting or mending relationships. You must lean on Him to help you. You must purge being defensive and instead become forgiving and merciful. Avoiding confrontation guarantees a level of relational immaturity throughout your life. Making confrontation an opportunity to learn to listen, show grace, and learning to speak the truth in love, is the road to relational maturity. Again, you will get better at it! You will mature and you will learn to have healthy long-lasting relationships.
So, if you are in a troubled relationship, you can either toss the relationship aside and move on which will have taught you nothing, or you can go back to the beginning in your mind when you liked the person. Remember what you liked and appreciated about them and think on that. Then try to sit down and work through issues that are tearing your relationship apart. Do this by learning to “Speaking the truth in love.” Yes it takes two people to do this. Yes the other person isn’t always willing. Yes, it’s painful and difficult. But, you do become better at it and it does mature you. It builds godly character within you. You learn to quit stuffing things. You break some of your dysfunctional behaviors. You learn to instead deal with issues as they come up, and in a loving way. You learn to “Speak the truth in love.” Its God’s way and He intended us all to learn this knowing it will "Grow us up in Him." And one last thing. It will make you a much stronger Christian witness!
John 13:34-35 (NLT) “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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