Enduring Relationships of Love

"Wealth brings many friends, but a poor man’s friend deserts him." (Proverbs 19:4).

"A poor man is shunned by all his relatives- how much more do his friends avoid him! Though he pursues them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found." (Proverbs 19:7).

People will be attracted more or less to one of two aspects of you: your heart, or your ‘outward’. Your heart refers to the essence of your being: your values, principles, preferences, priorities, and so on. Your outward, on the other hand, refers to your external circumstances: your results, success, achievements, and so on. If you want to build enduring relationships of love, separate individuals drawn to your heart, from those drawn to your outward. Then invest in the first group.

Your true friends and family will come from the first group. Your relationship-building efforts should be focused more on this first group.

People from the second group will mostly be sycophants, manipulators, and exploiters. You will never be able to have strong and enduring relationships with people who are drawn more to your results and achievements, than to your values and priorities. These relationships usually enable a life of make-belief and insecurity. They are there only as long as you have great results; so, you may be lured into living a fake life just to keep up with such relationships.

For instance, how do you sustain a relationship with a guy who is only attracted to your beautiful make up? And how do you sustain a relationship with a lady that is only attracted to your money?

A fellowship of opportunists

The pew today is filled with people who are attracted to the fantastic results of churches and their members; by people who are in for what God can give them materially and otherwise. And most people do not even question whether the so called results and achievements were acquired through godly efforts and blessings.

Then the pulpit is filled with leaders who are attracted more to material successes and privileges, than godliness.

No wonder there is a high level of charismatic witchcraft in churches today.

What you look at matters

"But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart"." (1 Samuel 16:7).

Did you see that? The LORD does not look at things man looks at. It’s high time you stopped looking at what this sick world looks at.

You are either looking at the heart, or the outward. If your attention is more on the outward, your relationships will be of the shallow, materialistic, and ungodly type.

Ultimately, who you connect with will be decided by your core sense of value. You will never spend your hard earned resources on things that you don’t consider important. Relationships with people, like investments, involve huge deposits of valuable resources. If you think the other person matters, you will be more likely to invest in building the relationship. Otherwise, no.

Your sense of value could be ephemeral or eternal. Look at Moses:

"He [Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." (Hebrews 11:26).

Clearly, Moses’ godly sense of value shaped his relationships. Consequently, faced with a choice of relationship with Egypt versus that with Israel, he chose the later; though at the time, the Israelites were just a bunch of despised slaves. From the verse above regarding Moses, we must learn that sometimes, disgrace should be preferred to treasures. It all depends on your perspectives and sense of value. Would you rather be poor than be a liar? It says a lot about you.

Sound judgment

"and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;" (Isaiah 11:3).

If your focus is on the outward, you will reach lots of erroneous conclusions about people, often to your own detriment and frustration. Reflect on the following story:

Acts 28:1-6
1 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

Initially, they concluded that Paul was a murderer. This judgment was based on Paul’s temporary external misfortunes: the storm, and the venomous viper fastened on his hand. Later on, they changed their judgment in the light of new ‘evidence’ and concluded that Paul was a god. In both cases, they judged Paul by his external circumstances.

Isn’t this the way things are today? People reach conclusions about others based on what they see with their eyes, and what they hear with their ears. A man with a lot of money must be smart, hardworking, and favored of God. A person who is not so fortunate must be cursed by God. It’s just a pathetic way of looking at things.

Again, ponder on the following incident:

John 9:1-3
1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

I think it is important to note that Jesus did not attribute the man’s blindness to his sins or those of his parents. Why are we so quick to reach conclusions about others just on the basis of their external circumstances? Anyway, that’s a tragic human weakness.

Contrary to what anyone may be telling you now – may be an agent of the devil for all I care – that you are still single at 36 does not mean you are cursed. That you do not have money does not mean God is not with you. And the same goes for that other individual you are passing judgment on.

Again, contrary to popular opinion, your success is not entirely up to you. A huge portion of it is due to smart decisions made by others – say your parents – on your behalf. A huge portion of your success in life will happen, not because of what you did, but in spite of them. This is why gratitude to God and others, coupled with humility, are so important.

In terms of close personal relationships, do not judge only by achievements and results. Instead, like God judge by heart, by values, by principles. Look for honesty, truth, faithfulness, kindness. Look for sacrifice. These are the fruits of the Holy Spirit by which Jesus said we shall know them.

A friend that’s always there

relationships“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
~Proverbs 18:24

Jesus Christ is the friend that sticks closer than a brother or sister. He will always be there for you through the night and through the day; through the storm and through the sunshine.