Human beings were designed and created (yes, designed and created) for relationship. More specifically, we were designed and created for relationships characterized by love. Such love relationships are two-way relationships that are to take place between God and human beings (God loving us and we, in return, loving Him – we love because He first loved us [1 Jn.4:19]) and between various unique human to human arrangements (husband / wife, parent / child, siblings, neighbors, foreigners, etc.). Though it sounds simple and, in a sense, obvious, the following statement deserves long, deep and serious reflection and consideration. THE GREATEST BARRIER TO PROPER, EFFECTIVE AND FRUITFUL LOVE RELATIONSHIPS IS SELF-ISH-ness. This is more than just a philosophical concept to which one nod’s one’s head in agreement. This is a very practical, choice-by-choice, moment-by-moment, day-by-day issue. To follow (“come after”) Jesus, one “must deny” him / herSELF. In order to be a good husband or wife, one must rise above SELF-centeredness, assuming a mentality of service (“…the greatest among you shall be your servant” [Mt.23:11]). Massive amounts of conflict and problems would find resolve if our relationships were to involve this factor. It takes a significant amount of discipline and wisdom to integrate this factor into one’s various, uniquely designed relationships. How one expresses this factor toward one’s spouse has a different application than it does in regard to a friend, neighbor, boss, etc. How one expresses this factor toward God is the most important consideration of all. Before we will ever pursue right human relationships, we must have the most valuable relationship with the most valuable Being in order. Selfishness short-circuits healthy relationships at the starting line. When one’s eyes are open to this truth, it can be seen all around us. Most people are so deeply entrenched in personal SELF-ISH-ness, they do not recognize this sad reality.
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” – Mt.16:24-25
“…the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” – 1 Jn.4:20