One of the many awesome gifts God has given humanity is the ability to have deep and powerful relationships with one another. What other creatures have the ability to have the sort of deep relationships that we as humans have? Because we have been gifted the ability to communicate with one another, as well as the ability to live relatively long lives, we have the ability to have a deep impact on the lives of one another. Personally, I would not be who I am today without the relationships I have been privileged to have. My parents, my wife, my children, my friends, my teachers, church members, co-workers, and more have made a profound impact on my life. Relationships are a gift, and one we should all cherish.
Yet, if you are like me, relationships have also caused A TON of problems in your life. You’ve been burned by someone’s lies or inability to keep a secret. You’ve spent a disproportionate part of your week dealing with conflicts. Sadly, you likely have people (including friends and family) who have caused you more pain than good. To further pile it on, you’ve also likely been the one that has caused pain in relationships more than once in your life. Why is it that we perpetually take this amazing gift and turn it into something painful? James 4:1-4 offers some great insight.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:1-4
That first verse almost takes the wind out of me: What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? This nails our relationship problems on the head. We get so caught up in our own worldly desires that we forget what relationships are really about. We see relationships as ways to get what we want and to benefit us, instead of seeing them as opportunities to benefit and bless others. Relationships are not about all the selfish things the world tells us they are, they are centrally about making others better. Our focus in every relationship we are in, be it big or small, should be to make the other person better. Imagine the difference if all Christians fully adopted such an attitude. The ability to have friendships and relationships is a precious gift. May we all use it as God intended: to make others better.