[tweet_dis]Healthy relationships are a key to a healthy spiritual lifestyle[/tweet_dis] for many reasons. Some of those reasons are:
We each have a need for relationship. God created us that way. I have addressed God’s plan for relationship in previous blog posts.
Also, on the same topic of our need for healthy relationships, Dr. Mark Laaser teaches on what he believes are the seven desires or needs of the heart[i]. They are:
At a later time, I will address these human desires in more detail. But, these desires cannot be met by us alone. They must be met through relationships with God and others. And in alignment with the purpose and premise of this blog post, each of these seven desires is to be met in appropriate ways—through healthy relationships.
Accountability is valuable to our lives. Because of its importance to living a healthy life, I have addressed this subject often. Accountability is one of the major keys to a lifestyle of freedom that I will address again thoroughly in an upcoming blog post. This topic must be included as we look at the “why” of healthy relationships because the most effective accountability is through trusted, loving relationships.
Accountability is an absolute necessity on the journey from bondage to freedom from addiction. However, it does not stop there. Accountability should be part of every person’s life who desires to keep on a focused path. We need healthy relationships with those who are close enough to us who will ask us the tough questions—those in whom we can confide our weaknesses, ask for prayer, and who will stand with us when things are difficult.
Without healthy accountability, sin and its secrecy can go unchecked. This provides opportunities for sin to remain in darkness and to grow. God’s plan is that sin be brought into the light so it can be exposed and dealt with. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
Accountability at its best is with someone where a healthy love and trust relationship has already been built. Trust will allow for the openness that is needed. Love needs to be the motive for someone to speak into your life.
There are different flavors of accountability. It will look different for someone who is an addict pursuing freedom than for someone who has never been addicted, yet who understands their need for another person with whom they can be transparent—someone who is invited to give input into their life. There is safety and protection in healthy accountability relationships.
Accountability is not an open door for people to criticize. In fact, true accountability is a wonderful blessing that flows from loving and healthy relationships. I believe accountability is best described by a quote from Graham Cooke, “Accountability is not about controlling people but about enabling them to discover the freedom that exists in making wise choices. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
[tweet_dis]Every person has blind spots.[/tweet_dis] In our natural vision, blind spots are called scotomas. Even in healthy eyes, there is a place in the field of vision where there is no sight. These spots can go unnoticed; they are areas where you have no vision. A friend of mine, a retired Air Force Colonel, says that pilots must train with these scotomas in mind and be able to compensate for them.
This is a physical example of the blind spots we face in other realms of life, including our spiritual vision. We may have a habit or a mindset that we don’t recognize as being an intrusion or a detour for God’s plan in our life. Sometimes it takes a loving friend in whom we have trust and confidence, to point out a spiritual scotoma in our lives. None of us is above deception. Matthew 24:24 tells us, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Friends, who lovingly approach relationship with a willingness to speak truth into our lives, can help us live in freedom from lies and deceptions that blind us to the truth. Often, I realize my blind spots, not because someone has pointed them out to me, but because a friend has openly shared what God is doing and revealing in their lives. Their testimony and the truth they are applying to their own lives has power, and it impacts me. At times it has given me understanding and revelation I needed for my own life. That should not be surprising, because the scriptures say that knowing the truth has the power to set us free (John 8:32).
Working together is another important part of healthy relationships. We all have different gifts and talents, and by ourselves, we have limited ability and a limited perspective of God’s purposes. But when we work together with those who have different abilities and strengths, then we begin to understand a larger picture of God’s plan. We begin to see how He created us to be “in community.” As we work together, we are more effective than any one of us acting alone. This is clearly stated in Romans 12:4-6, 9 in the Message version of the Bible:
“In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.”
I have seen these verses in action many times. Through my own relationships, I have learned much about how the Body of Christ is to function. Each of us is gifted and we each have a valuable part in God’s work. When we each do our part of the work, we begin to see God’s larger picture.
The ability to work together in relationship does not necessarily happen overnight. It comes with commitment and through time and effort. Yes, I said effort. Relationships are not always easy. At times, they can be challenging and difficult. But, God gives us guidelines on how to walk together. Healthy relationships, people working together for a common goal and demonstrating love and trust have eternal purposes and bring amazing rewards. They are worth the effort not only on an individual basis, but for what is accomplished for the Kingdom of God. When we work together in unity, honoring each other’s gifts and talents, there is a power and synergism that cannot happen any other way.
In conclusion to this key of Healthy Relationships with Others, I want to say that not only are we blessed when we have these relationships, but God is honored and exalted through them. His purposes can be fulfilled in us when we honor Him in our relationships.
Action Steps: Consider how you can continue to cultivate close, healthy relationships. Take some action to deepen the safe relationships that are already in your life. Consider how God might want to add people to your life and who those individuals might be.
Look closely at your own life and relationships and examine your commitment, first to God and then to the friends He has placed in your life. Healthy relationships are wonderful blessings as each person is committed to God and to living by His guidance.
Scripture: Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (NKJV)
A Prayer: Dear God, I am open to Your will and plan for relationships in my life. I am thankful for Your plan of relationships and I simply ask You to help me to live in Your will for my life. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
(I encourage you to talk to Him in your own words. Share your heart with Him. He loves you and desires to hear what is in your heart and on your mind.)
[i] Laaser, Mark. “The Seven Desires of the Heart.” Treating Sexual Addiction. Forest: Light University, 0. p.44-50. Print.