7 Things Destroying Relationships

I spoke recently on the topic “How To Stay In Love”. In researching for the message I checked out what people suggest are relationship breakers. There are a number of things people suggest are lacking in relationships that go sour. As I pondered the issue I came up with my own list of Seven Things Destroying Relationships. I thought I would share them with you.

My list is based on my own personal experience as a husband and the hundreds of hours of relationship counselling I have given to men and women, young and old, over several decades. So this list does not come from guesswork or shallow assumptions.

I point out that I have had people walk out on my sessions, weep, argue, kick the furniture, go silent, sulk and give other varied reactions to my input. I have done the hard yards in getting to the insights which I now share with you. Please don’t take this list lightly.

OK, are your ready to check yourself against Pastor Chris’s hot-list? Are you ready to allow our own heart to be convicted by these Seven Deadly Sins? Are you man or woman enough to face realities which you might not like?

You still have time to click off this page and save yourself the offence of what I am about to share. I will never know that you chickened out and ran back to your delusions.

………

Still with me??

OK ‘brave-heart’, here we go…….

The Seven Deadly Sins Destroying Relationships are…….

1. Selfishness

2. Being self-focused – Selfishness

3. self-Ishness

4. Caring for self first – ‘selfishness’

5. SELFishness

6. See item #1

7. More of the same…..

The reason I can be so confident in making up this list is that Love and Selfishness are mutually exclusive. That means they cannot exist in the same place at the same time. I know that to be a fact because of what the Bible teaches in the world’s most beautiful description of “love”, 1Corinthians chapter 13.

In 1Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul gives an extensive and awesome description of love. And in that description he says that “love does not seek its own”, 1Corinthians 13:5. That is the same as saying: “Love is not selfish”, “Love does not push its own will”, “Love does not demand its own way”, “Love has given up self-interest” and “Love is not demanding”.

When we find people who are selfish, demanding, argumentative, pouting, jealous, angry, resentful, hurt, pushy or self-indulgent, we know that they do not have love. Real Love does not display any of those things.

So, if you are facing challenges in your relationships take a moment to consider how you rate on any one of the Seven Deadly Sins Destroying Relationships which I have outlined above. As you call on God’s grace to transform you from being a selfish person, to being one who can love others unconditionally, you will find your relationships with others are transformed too.

Nobility Challenge

In an earlier post (Nobility – Imago Dei) I introduced you to the notion of our true nobility being anchored in our unique created status. Since we are made in the image of God, imago dei, we have remarkable nobility built in to who and what we are.

Our nobility is challenged, however, by our tendency to live below our created status. Instead of living as God’s children, made in God’s image, we are tempted to live like animals, bent on the indulgence of animal instincts.

This post on our nobility challenge seeks to focus your attention on the choices you make the impact those choices have on your nobility.

As humans we have two dimensions. We have a spiritual dimension based on our being made in God’s image, as moral beings accountable to a moral God in a moral universe. We also have a natural dimension. Our natural dimension is based on our natural environment and the physiological make-up which enables us to engage with that world. Our five senses enable us to enjoy this life, but can be elevated to the place of our main purpose for life. When we choose to live out of our natural senses we effectively abandon our spiritual dimension, in order to indulge our natural dimension.

The measure of our nobility is the degree to which we live for spiritual realities versus our fleshly interests. This does not mean that people become dead to their five senses, but they put to death the self-serving lusts that spring from those senses. The body has bodily appetites but is not synonymous with bodily appetites. It is more than the sum of our bodily appetites. It is possible to be dead to human appetites and to simply enjoy the pleasures of taste, touch, sight, etc, without being sold out to those things. It is also possible to be highly disciplined and to deny bodily pleasure yet to be internally preoccupied and distracted with gratification. An absence of sensual engagement does not mean that a person is living out of their spiritual dimension. They may simply be highly disciplined in their flesh.

The nobility challenge is to live as the image of God, imago dei, rather than as a craven animal distracted by natural experiences. When you step away from your divine origins and calling you trash your nobility. Every addiction to your senses and sensual experience is evidence of your lost nobility. True nobility involves freedom from the demands of your natural, flesh self.

I pray that God give you the grace to walk into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, out of the quagmire of darkness, slavery and oppression that devours your nobility and mocks your existence.

My Woman of Faith

Last week I wrote how dependent wives can find it easier to be a ‘woman of faith’ than their husbands do in being a man of faith. A dependent person must look to God to protect them against the weaknesses or vagaries of those who have responsibility or power over them. In Colossians 3:20 we learn that obedience in children involves ‘faith’, since it pleases God and only faith does that (see Hebrews 11:6).

When a wife, child or dependent person happily submits to the leadership of someone who could possibly disadvantage them, they are likely doing so because they really trust God to protect them and provide for them.  This predisposition to trust God is an advantage in prompting a wife to be a woman of faith. Often men struggle to trust God because they are more likely to correlate their own physical efforts with the income and provision that comes in.

Here are two examples that have come to mind from my life journey, where my wife, Susan, has been my woman of faith, while I have been a man of fear. On one occasion I had stepped out, as a young married man, attempting to start my own business. I had worked out exactly how much money we needed each week and we were right on the line. Then, just a few days later our landlord arrived to advise that he was putting the rent up nearly 50%. As I walked back into the house, after farewelling the landlord, my head was spinning with the news and the new challenge. I had no idea how we were going to make ends meet. Susan, met me at the door, fairly dancing on the spot. She was just SO excited. She praised the Lord and exulted in how exciting this was. I was stunned! How could she be so delighted when we had just received such bad news? Yet she was right. It turned out to be an exciting and wonderful time for us and we didn’t get swept away into bankruptcy. God was good and still is today.

On a later occasion I was at Bible College in New Zealand and had arrived with very little money in the bank. Susan and I had three children by then and the youngest, Matthew, needed new shoes because he was growing fast. Susan asked me several times for funds to buy new shoes and I kept putting her off. I was afraid to use up a large chunk of what little money we had. There was no visible source of further funds and this money was to keep us going for many months yet.

Finally, when I tried to duck the question yet again, Susan challenged me point-blank. “You don’t trust the Lord to provide, do you?” The surprise and rebuke in her tone humbled me, because she was right. She chided me that God would provide. We were in Bible College, learning to be ministering people, so we should be the first to trust God. Here I was in fear and holding tightly to the little that we had, rather than trusting God. Suitably challenged I decided to give some of the money away – as well as releasing funds for the shoes. In very short order we received a much larger gift from friends in Australia. God was good to us, but He needed my woman of faith to shake me out of my fear.

I am hardly qualified tell others to be men and women of faith, when I have been so prone to doubt. But allow me to encourage you, whether you are a dependent wife or child, or an income earning person. Please become a man or woman of faith. It’s the best way to live.

Woman of Faith

I was blessed this week by an email from one of my team sharing about her challenges as a wife. She prompted me to realise that women have a possible advantage when it comes to faith. To help you appreciate what I am perceiving let me share with you an observation out of my family teaching.

Children are required to obey their parents. The Bible reveals that this is an act of faith. Children are instructed in Colossians 3:20 to obey their parents. In the same sentence Paul points out that this is “well pleasing” to the Lord. “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” That doesn’t directly say anything about ‘faith’, except when you correlate that with Hebrews 11:6, which says that “without faith it is impossible to please God”. If children’s obedience is ‘well pleasing’ and only faith can ‘please’ God, then children’s obedience is an act of faith.

Faith kicks in when a child has to suppress their own idea of what is good for them, to comply with the requirements of their parents. Many a child has been afraid of missing out, being looked down on by others, or otherwise suffering because their parents make decisions which they would like to change. For a child to happily honour and obey his or her parents in the face of those challenges the child needs to be trusting that God has everything under control.

Similarly, everyone who is under authority must exercise that same kind of faith. This includes wives. So wives are often more in a position of conscious faith than their husbands might be. This is compounded for the men because men are more likely to be in the workforce seeing a direct correlation between their effort and their income. This can block their awareness of God’s provision, and prompt them to think of themselves as the ‘provider’. A wife who is reliant on her husband’s endeavours and the favours he bestows on her must turn to God and look to God’s grace to see her needs and wishes met. Herein is the seed-bed of the ‘woman of faith’.

A dependent wife should find it easier to be a woman of faith. It should be easy for her to take a faith posture. Note, however, that a grasping woman, who wrests control from her husband or who manipulates him to get her way, has missed the special faith posture which other women have. A grasping woman fails to be moving in faith and so fails to please God.

There are many examples of godly women who have been strong in faith, despite their vulnerability, while their husbands have found it hard to trust God. Even when a husband does well financially he can simply lift his expectations, and hoard what he has, rather than trusting God to bless him. This is not to say that all dependent wives are women of faith or that all working men are devoid of faith. But I do recognise that a woman of faith is a precious thing and that the limitation which some women struggle with is seen by others as an advantage – helping them stay reliant on God.

I’ve just remembered a time when I was the man of unbelief and needed my wife to prompt me out of my lack of faith. I will share that incident with you in a future post. I have been blessed over the years by having a woman of faith in my wife, Susan. I commend each woman, child and youth reading this to not resent their place of dependence but to see the advantage it offers them to be a person of faith.

The Six Day War Outcome – A Faith Booster

This is a short pep-talk that I am aiming directly at your faith! Without faith it is impossible to please God, so I like to see my own faith encouraged and I like to stir and challenge other people’s faith as well. What I am now sharing with you is a thought that came to my attention a few days ago, when I was praying through a challenge that confronted me. I share it with you as a faith booster.

What I had experienced was a situation that turned out to be tough. As I took time to pray about the issue I realised that the circumstances represented a threat to my current situation. A potential reversal was on the horizon. Now, that’s a fairly common experience. Our health may be compromised and the doctors may have a glum prognosis. We may suffer a financial loss that clips our wings and tightens our belt. We may face a disappointment, some opposition, arguments with loved ones, fearful thoughts about how things are going, and so on. I was facing one of those kinds of things.

As I prayed I felt a subtle surge of faith. I wasn’t about to go sweeping mountains off the map, but I was finding it easier to expect good things from God. God has promised us a raft of good things and the Bible is filled with promises. Having faith to take hold of them is usually our challenge. Anyway, I felt a surge of faith and I found myself stepping toward the problem, rather than feeling weighed down by it.

I began to pray boldly and I began to address the problem with defiance in my spirit. I proceeded to call on God’s help and then to tell the problem that it had no right to muscle in to my territory. I accused it of being a lie. I claimed that my situation was not dependent on my abilities or personal worth. (I often admit my limitations and declare that I am where I am because of God’s blessing, not my personal merits). I then challenged the problem with the “Six Day War Outcome”.

In the Six Day War in June 1967, Israel came under attack on all sides, by Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The situation looked desperate and the initial prognosis was quite negative for Israel. Yet less than one week later Israel had not only repelled the attackers but had advanced into new territory formerly controlled by its enemies. The Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza Strip came under Israeli occupation. What was a sure defeat became a triumph.

That’s what I call the “Six Day War Outcome”. It’s a powerful faith booster. The enemy comes in like a flood and God enables you to not only repel the offensive but to push into enemy territory and take ground you never previously owned. Wow! If that happened every time you were attacked, how would you feel about the next onslaught? You’d be itching for the next invasion. You’d be taunting your enemies to attack you. If every time you were attacked you ended up richer, stronger, more secure, more influential and more blessed how would you feel about any future attack?

As I prayed through my relatively minor challenge the whole “Six Day War Outcome” came flooding into mind. I found myself emboldened in my derision of the enemy. I found myself defiant and brash. Of course, I was not dealing with any people. I don’t recommend that you treat people that way. I was praying, privately, about a situation that the enemy of my soul was dumping onto me to bring me down and to frustrate my effectiveness for God. And that’s how it usually is. We do not wrestle with people, we are told (see Ephesians 6:12), but against evil spirits assigned against us. There’s no holds barred when we come up against them.

So, I encourage you in the Lord, to consider the “Six Day War Outcome” and to see that God is ready to give you that kind of victory when you are confronted. And don’t worry about your inability to win such a fight. There are lovely Bible verses about God giving us the victory – so you don’t even need to fight. Ponder these:

“You will not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you…. fear not, nor be dismayed… for the Lord will be with you.” 2Chronicles 20:17

“Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” 1Corinthians 15:57