“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus cares about relationships.
We all agree that he cares about our relationship to God. That's the "greatest" commandment. It's also why Jesus came to us. He is God, and his birth, life, death, and resurrection all point to God's ultimate desire to have a relationship with us. If he wasn't interested, none of that matters a whit.
Jesus also cares about that second commandment. Like the first, it is essential for what God has planned for us. Our relationships with other people matter to God, and Jesus is very interested in giving us what we need for that to happen.
We talk a lot at Grace about that first commandment. But we want to take some weeks to concentrate on the second one. How do we enlarge our love for others? What does Jesus tell us about those relationships?
Here's why God wants us to have good relationships with other people:
- He created us to be relational. From the very beginning, "it is not good for a man to be alone." We thrive only when we are in relationship with others.
- Relationships are God's tools for growth. God uses relationships to build us into the people he wants us to be. EVERY RELATIONSHIP IN YOUR LIFE, even the difficult ones, are God's growth equipment.
- Relationships are God's pop-quizzes. How we deal with those around us can be a gauge to show how we are doing spiritually. Our walk of faith shows up first in the relationships we have.
- Relationships are God's way of keeping us heading in the right directions. Like signs on a trail, or that voice on our Google Maps, the various people in our lives are used by God to point the way.
- Relationships are God's primary means of communication. We all want to hear from God, and God sometimes uses the Bible to do that. On some occasions, God will even communicate with us directly - that "still small voice," or that nudge of the heart. But we often fail to listen for the voice of God within the relationships he has strategically place in our lives.
If relationships are all that, and if we really believe God is orchestrating the relationships of our lives, we need to give careful attention to those relationships with the intent to give room for love to grow.