The other day I was on BibleGateway’s verse for the day and I thought: “O, dear! I am far from this!” The verse is Romans 12: 10: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
The Bible has very high standards of human behaviour! We try to reach it but often fail. And, that, really, is ok! The important thing is that we are progressively getting better. With me, it isn’t that I am not as the verse demands. It’s just that I don’t have many relationships in which I can be devoted to the other or honor them above myself.
I am not a relational person. So, I have very few friends, and, these I have because of them — not because of me! They are much more relational than I am and on their strength I become their friends. I learn a few things from them and try to make friends but my success rate is dismally low! Not that it bothers me much, because I am pretty self-sufficient. But, we all need friends and connections to form a community, even if it is a small one. It is essential in our survival.
Mine is an extremely small community! Though I don’t connect easily like most women do, looking back, I realise how at crucial points in my life when I needed those connections, God sent me friends who gave more than they took. They remain friends to this day.
So, if you are an emotional giver, don’t hold back. People like me will be friendless if not for you! We learn slowly but at some point we’ll also be able to give back, maybe never as you but definitely more than before!
People generally care for (devoted … ) and respect (honour … ) one another. In church communities, it is more evident because many of the stress factors of life don’t operate among us and we feel more free to be nice — until we get closer! Then the real person shows up and we don’t know why things go wrong.
Real people often rub one another the wrong way. That’s a fact of life! The point is how do we deal with it? The tendency is to present a good face. That serves its purpose but it doesn’t solve the problem; it’s just disguised. And we remain conflicted about our relationships.
I have learnt from experience that the best way to deal with relationship issues is to be honest with the people involved. Honesty shows you are sincere about your love for the other person. The verse before Romans 12: 10 gives the basis of a love relationship. Verse 9 says: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” If there is no sincerity in that relationship, that love isn’t good.
When love is sincere friendships bloom. When love is sincere, it also compels one to be honest. When you are sincere you can speak the truth in love ( Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ — Eph 4:15). Then, we can approach the other person and honestly express our concerns and reconciliation begins and we grow.
I think that is what is meant by Matt 5:23, 24: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Perhaps that’s the reason why our offerings are limited. Our hearts are not right to want to give freely. We have not learnt to reconcile. When we reconcile, we heal but it won’t happen unless we relate in sincere love.
A lesson, I, too, have learnt from my emotionally more intelligent friends!