We Are At Our Best When We Live In Relationship With Others
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
God never intended that we live our lives in isolation. We are at our best when we live in relationship. We live in a culture that values individual rights and thank God we have those rights. But we take these rights to the extreme when we take them to mean that we can live the way we want without regard for our fellow man. And that is where our culture as a whole is heading. We must resist this tendency.
It’s easy to be alone in a crowd these days, whether it’s in a shopping mall, at a ball game, or in a church service. The easiest thing to do is keep the walls up and hold others away at arm’s length. Let’s face it, relationships are risky. And if you’ve been burned by one a time or two it’s easier to keep the distance from others than to risk emotional pain again.
But we do best when we learn to relate to the family of God and allow others to come close. One of the ingredients in spiritual growth is close relationships. God did not place his love in our hearts for us to spend on ourselves. Love isn’t love until you give it away to someone else. All spiritual growth revolves around learning to love others unconditionally as well as learning to open yourself up to be loved as well.
Most of us are raised in an environment of conditional love, where expressed love from others is dependent on behavior. But the love of God is unconditional and self-sacrificial! And that’s the kind of love we believers have been given by the Father. And that’s the kind of love we’re called to express in our close relationships.
The first time I was shown this unconditional love by another believer, I didn’t know how to respond. It was almost too good for me. I felt as though I needed to earn it some way. It was awkward to receive. I was 17 years old and I went to a Saturday outdoor event a local Bible college was having after having been invited by a new acquaintance. People came up to me and showed genuine interest in me. They seemed caring and real. That was the beginning of my being set free from years of emotional pain that I kept hidden behind a façade of activity.
The strength of my life as a new believer was in relating to new found friends weekly. The world, the flesh, and the devil would gang up on me daily. But as I spent time with my buddies, I found that I was not alone in my struggles to leave the old man behind. I found the strength of friendships refreshing. I found that the enemy was seeking to isolate me and make me think that I was alone in my difficulties. I also gained a sense of fulfillment as the Father used me to encourage others as a related how I dealt with my daily challenges.
Iron sharpens iron. We need each other. When I was in the sixth grade I sang in a school choir. The lyrics of one of the songs we sang was: No man is an island. No man stands alone. Each man’s joy is joy to me. Each man’s grief is my own. We need one another, so I will defend each man as my brother, each man as my friend.
When I was born again, that song came back to me in a fresh way. Now, years later, I can see that I am what I am by the grace of God, and by the help of loving friends. Take the chance to open yourself up to close relationships, and you’ll find a new dimension of freedom mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.