|My lovely sister Sara, and me...about 5 years ago.|
I will be teaching this short little book to my Bible study group in February through April, but you guys (my blogger buddies) get a head start!!! Plus this will be good for me to review what I've already read and will hopefully give me some practice on the material ahead of time.
This mini Bible Study couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Gina, my co-teacher suggested this book and I purchased in November and dove right in.
At the time I was really struggling with two relationships and I really needed a heart change and a new perspective. Of course at the time all I could see was my view, and how right I was and how wrong the other parties were, but God always has a way of bringing up the real heart of the matter and the real issue, and of course it was me who needed to change. I hate when that happens, just kidding...I'm very glad now that it happened. After many tears, lots of built up anger, lost pounds and lost sleep (I mean who can really enjoy their food or enjoy a good night's rest when they have unresolved anger and hurt feelings?)
Finally, it got to the point where the holidays were miserable (not with my immediate family) and I was miserable and I was dreading even celebrating the holidays. Well, Christmas came and went and still there was no peace...not until I fully LET it GO. Do you know what I mean by LET it GO? I mean give up all your reasons for being angry. Give up all your rights. Give up all your perspectives, and just start imagining your self in the other person's shoes. I mean really put yourself there. And just let it go. I had to realize that when Christ said, "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me" it means that whatever I'm holding on to I need to let go, my hands need to be empty, and then all I have to do is grab onto Christ and follow Him.
Sometimes that even means if you are right. Sometimes you can be right and still be wrong if you don't have a peace about the situation, if you are still angry, still putting up walls to be safe, still hiding, still fearful, still dreading holiday get togethers, then maybe there is something you need to let go of, and just grab on to Him for strength. I can tell you for an absolute fact, the minute that you start obeying God you feel better, you breathe easier, the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach goes away, and somehow as you pray God just fills you with His love, and His peace, and honestly I started loving those very same people who I was so hurt and angry at, and I was like, "Now where did that come from?" God!!!
Chapter 1: Building Right Relationships
How would you define a right relationship?
Here's my answer: A right relationship is built on trust and love and a chosen desire to honor God no matter what. In this relationship you feel comfortable to be yourself because the person knows you. faults and all, and continues to celebrate the wonderfully and fearfully made human that God has made you to be. The person sees past your mistakes, forgives you when you mess up, and allows you to be you without critique or judgment.
Author's answer: A right relationship is an open-armed approach to every person in my life, regardless of the way he or she treats me. In such a relationship, I feel no sense of separation, no unforgiven hurts, no underlying problems I refuse to discuss or choose to ignore. I am at peace with everyone as far as it depends on me (Romans 12:18)
After I read the author's answer I knew I needed this Bible Study!!!
"Relationship problems end in separation when we refuse to work on changing our emotional responses to those who hurt us. It is virtually impossible to feel our way to new actions. If we wait until we feel loving before talking with the offending friend, the one who is slighted us or the parent who gave us less love than we think we deserved, we will probably never respond. And the fire of love and friendship will be replaced with the smoldering ashes of bitterness." See what I mean??? She's awesome!
Scripture reminds us that even the pagans love those who love them. We are to love those who hate us and use us (Matthew 5:44) Oh do we need His help, or what???
Love is a verb. It is an action word. Agapao
Romans 12: 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another.
Romans 12: 13 Distributing to the needs with God's people.
Romans 12: 14 Bless and do not curse.
Romans 15: 1 Bear the failings of the weak.
2 Corinthians 13: 12 Greet with a kiss.
Galatians 5: 13 Serve one another.
Ephesians 5: 21 Submitting to one another.
Colossians 3: 13 Bearing with each other and forgiving each other.
1 Thessalonians 5: 11 Comfort one another and edify each other.
James 5: 16 Pray for each other.
The chapter ends with a quiz...and let me just tell you, it was a hard quiz because of course you have to be honest with yourself, and when you start to see your short comings it is not easy. I saw far too many 3's and 4 and realize my heart needs a change...here are a few of the questions:
Place the number that best describes how often you engage in the behavior.
1- Almost Always
2-With few exceptions
1. ____ I make myself move toward a person who has hurt me, as opposed to withdrawing. (Romans 12:17)
2. ____ I forgive people when they hurt me, even if they do not admit their wrongs or ask to be forgiven (Colossians 3:13)
3. ____ I go to other people as soon as I realize I have hurt or upset them and ask to be forgiven (Matthew 5: 23-24)
4. ____ I attribute good motives to people when they hurt me ("I'm sure they meant me no harm") as opposed to deciding someone has deliberately hurt me (1 Cor 13: 6-7)
5. ___ I receive criticism without attacking the person criticizing me and/or defending myself (Matthew 5: 11)
(If you are interested in seeing the rest of the 15 questions, I can email you the list...just ask)
In what areas do you most need to grow in obedience to God's relationship commandments? Share this with one other person, and pray for one another.
Choose the most troubling relationship in your life at this time. Ask God to show you where you have failed to love this person God's way. Confess it and ask God to show you how to express love to this difficult family member, friend, or acquaintance. Wait upon the Lord and listen.
Happy Tuesday! Chapter 2 will be next Tuesday!