Devo: The Roots of Great Relationships
Relationships are the most important part of life. The ability or inability to get along with and influence people will determine our effectiveness at work, our fruitfulness in Christian service, and our legacy in our homes. So much is at stake. And we’re planting seeds through our relationships with the next generation. They are learning from us. God’s word has a great deal to say about relationships. At this point, I’ve found it better than any self-help book on the shelves. Our church is currently studying the book of James and we took some time to dig into what James says about relationships.
Three Roots of Great Relationships
A tree or plant is only as strong as its root system. And some roots are seen, but most are not. Great relationships are born out of something unseen by most. It’s the character traits that are in our hearts toward others. James points to three key roots that we must have to build and maintain great relationships:
1. INITIATIVE TAKING LOVE | “Love your neighbor as yourself” James 2:8; 15
This is a profound line from the Old Testament that Jesus commended, calling it the second greatest commandment. When we have needs, we work to have them met. When I’m hungry, I go find food. When I’m hurting, I go find meds. When I’m cold, I go find warmth. We take initiative to meet our own needs. Jesus taught that we should extend that to others we are in relationship with as well. The word for love is AGAPE, which is that initiative taking, self-sacrificing love that Jesus modeled for us in giving His life. He saw our great need and did what had to be done, to help us overcome our sin and death and separation from God. It’s a reminder that love INITIATES and SACRIFICES and FINDS A WAY to meet the needs of others.
One of the things I seldom hear truly on Mission Christians say is, “I would have helped but no one asked me.” To Be On Mission is to, out of love, be an initiator of ministry and service toward others.
2. COMPASSION AND MERCY | “Mercy triumphs over judgment” James 2:13
Why do we prioritize our own needs, loving ourselves? Because we feel them. They are dynamic and present. Having compassion and mercy means we feel the needs of others along with our own in a dynamic and present way. And Agape love leads us to react and serve and give and encourage.
But there is more to mercy than just a feeling. The definition: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
Mercy means even when I know something about them or have something I can use against them or don’t really like them or have a right to hold a grudge against them, I still am willing to love them and show them grace. That’s what God, in Christ did for us, and that’s what he desires for us to extend to others.
3. WISDOM | “the gentleness that comes from wisdom” James 3:13
Wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective. Relationships can entangle us in worldly, fleshly thinking like nothing else. That’s why anger, abuse, and division are so prevalent. When relationships get tough and dirty, we do too. However, if I could see God’s perspective, I could see the bigger picture, the possible solutions, the deeper reasons for the conflict and adjust my life to avoid the traffic jams and potholes of anger, abusive language, and division. And God’s perspective helps us know our place as well. We should approach all our relationships from a humble vantage point that says, “I’m flawed, you’re flawed. We all need mercy, grace, forgiveness. I might as well try to make life better and easier on people. We’re all in this together.”
Initiative Taking Love, Compassion and Mercy, Wisdom from Above. These three things applied to our relationships will bring about fruitfulness, effectiveness, and leave a legacy of peace.
Hear the audio of this study at Bridge Church HERE.