Thursday, April 15, 2010

Holding Fast and Pressing On in Relationships

     I love people!  Most of the time.....  I have to say though there are times when people drive me crazy.  It seems as though the people I care about the most drive me the craziest.  When this happens I must take a look at me and not them.  We all have many relationships in our lives.  We have friends, spouses, children, parents, siblings, work associates, fellow believers and so many more.  When we look at those relationships we must look at our responsibility and not at what we want from those we are in relationships with.  Recently God had confronted me with a number of situations where I have had to discover what I believed, hold fast to it and press on in my relationships. 
     I am a natural giver.  I love to care for others and see others become successful. I am the queen of the win/win situation. I have been accused of being a "Pollyanna" when it comes to my relationships.  I believe the best about those I love sometimes resulting in pain because I am not always wise in how I deal with people.  I have had to look at that attitude lately and see if there is a flaw in the way I think.  I have reached the conclusion that I would rather view people from a perspective of believing the positive than view others from a place of suspicion.  Ultimately I want others to believe the best about me, so I should believe the best of others.
     To evaluate what I believe about people I must look to Christ. Christ always saw others potential.  He saw them as God intended them to be and encouraged them to press on to become more like Himself.  God's intent for each one of us is to be more like Christ.  He loves us because He chose to love us not because we do anything for Him.  Our devotion and obedience demonstrate our love for God but do not earn us God's love.  We are loved just because we are.  We only experience the fullness of that love when we choose to submit our lives to God and trust Christ as Savior.  
     When Christ was in the upper room before he went to the cross he knew Judas would betray him and yet He washed his feet just as He washed the others feet (John 13:1-20).  He knew Peter would deny Him and that John would be the only one to remain at the foot of the cross and yet He treated them all with the utmost love and was an example of  how we are to love others. His love for them was not based on their worthiness, Christ's love for them was His choice and responsibility.  This is what I believe I am to hold fast to.  I must hold fast to the conviction that Christ loves me because I am His and not because of anything I do.  I must also hold fast to the truth that Christ wants me to love others in the same way He loves them.
    There were many times when Christ showed his love by being encouraging, by healing, and by reaching out His hand but there were times that He showed His love by rebuke and correction.  I am to love others by lovingly bringing truth to their life whether it is in the form of encouragement or rebuke.  I only love myself when I don't confront others in love.  I only love myself when I don't risk by choosing to communicate in any situation.  I only love myself when I worry more about how the other person is going to react than whether I am being obedient to communicate.  I do not know what God's plan is when He lays someone on my heart to communicate with; but it is my responsibility to obey.  
    Just this week I was confronted with a situation where God laid someone on my heart and I fought with God over communicating with this person because I had the expectation that they should communicate with me or at least let me know that they wanted to be communicated with.  As I was wrestling with this I received an email that shared a new book a friend thought I might be interested in called the 100/0 Principle by Al Ritter.  The excerpt that was sent to me talked about how to have fulfilling relationships and that we must take 100 percent of the responsibility for the relationship without expecting anything in return.  I had to go before God and confess I want so much for people to like me, to approve of me and to appreciate me. Wanting these things is not wrong but I am not to avoid those who do not give them to me.  I am to take responsibility for the relationships in my life and treat others with the love Christ requires without worrying about how they will receive it.  That is up to them and God.  I can't control it.  I must press on toward maturity in how I love others.  
     I am now working to hold fast to the truth that Christ loves me because he chose to and not based on what I do.  I am holding fast to the truth that my obedience does not change Christ's love for me but it does bring me peace when I do what is right.  I am holding fast to the truth that I am to love others as Christ did.  I am pressing on in my positive perspective of others. I am pressing on in my love for others by communicating even when I don't know the outcome.  I am pressing on by taking responsibility for the relationships in my life and expecting nothing in return. 
     Bottom line....there is less craziness in my love for others when I know the truth of God and Hold Fast to it as I Press On in my pursuit of the relationships God has put in my life.  And indeed I do still love people by my own choice even when they make me crazy because in the end there is great reward!

Holding Fast and Pressing On,

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Why Hold Fast and Press On

     Life is difficult at times.  Many of us can share times when things have been difficult.  Not always does difficutly come as something negative, sometimes it is disguised in something positive.  Examples of difficulties not looked on as positive are deployments, illnesses or death.  Illness and death are inconvenient, rarely planned and many times just plain hard.  A positive difficulty is a teen getting a driver's license or preparing to graduate.  All of these circumstances have happened in my life within the last 6 months.  The only thing that gives me the ability to continue and to do it well is my faith in Christ and what He has done and is still doing in my life.
     God in His wonderful wisdom has guided and directed me to be teaching through the book of Hebrews this year Precept upon Precept.  The verses that I am referencing as I share my perspective on how God is working in my life are Hebrews 4:14 and Hebrews 6:1.  
Hebrews 4:14 "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession."
Hebrews 6:1 "Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God."

        "Hold fast" in the Greek is "to have power over or become master of."  In this context we are to become dominant, become masters of our confession.  "Let us attain to the full benefit of," the full benefit of what?  We are to attain (grab hold or become master of) the full benefit of our confession that Jesus is the Messiah and He is now the ruler of our lives and all that implies.  This is contrasted with drifting away in Hebrews 2:1.  Drifting away implies the lack of mastery, one who is allowing the current to cause them to "go with the flow."  We can drift away in many ways, through allowing emotions to dictate instead of God's Word, following others instead of cultivating our own relationship with God, getting caught up in the "good" things we are doing, or just being complacent.  How ever we "drift away" we are responsible for our own drifting.  It is not the fault of the current we have not grabbed the rudder and taken hold and become master of our direction.  This is the holding fast, the taking of responsibility, the becoming convinced.
      When things are difficult is when we just want to survive and we tend to drift because it takes so much energy to become the master of our lives.  To be the master of our lives and hold fast to that confession, we need God's help.  Our lives were given to us by God and redeemed through His Son Jesus, our lives are not our own and we are to accurately represent  our God to others by taking the control that is ours. This is how we glorify our God.  We can only know what control we have and how to wield that control when know what God would want us to do.  We find that out through studying His Word and knowing Him.
      Once we have gained control and have the rudder firmly in hand we are to "press on."  What are we to press on toward?  Maturity in Christ is our goal.  We are to be conformed to the image of Christ, that happens as we pursue, endure and press on toward maturity.  We are to strive to deal with situations the way Christ would deal with them to the best of our knowledge (with guidance from the Holy Spirit). There is no formula or to do list that shows us how we need to be confomred to Chirst's image.  It is an individual journey. 
     As I write this blog, as often as I feel God has given me something to say, I am going to share how I Hold Fast and Press On in the areas of life and situations God is working on in me.  God gives me the strength to "hold fast and press on" as well as providing the circumstances where I can excercise what that looks like.  I will fail at times but that is how I learn.  I have been told a number of times I should write what I usually say one on one or in Bible Study and share it with more people, it has been over a year since I was first confronted with this idea and after much prayer here I am.  My purpose in writing is to encourage others and comfort them.  I am not here to debate but would love feed back and I will try to answer questions if you have any.  I can only testify to what God is doing in my life and I trust Him completely with it.  

Desiring to Hold Fast and Press On,

The New Inductive Study Bible, New American Standard Version. Harvest House Publishers. Eugene, OR. 1960.
Zodhiates, Spiros. The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament.  AMG Publishing, Chattanooga, TN. 1992.