I tell you the truth, Jesus said to them, “No one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
When you first read the above passage it doesn’t make any sense. Leave my wife? Leave my parents? Leave my children? That seems counterproductive to the gospel. I’ve read these verses before and always assumed Jesus was talking about missionary work or fulfilling the Great Commission. And sure, both are important, and even better, when these things are finished Jesus is returning! (See John 14:3).
But what’s neat about the Bible is as you grow in your relationship with Christ, His Spirit will speak to you differently each time you read His Word. That happened to me this morning. Sipping my coffee, He said to me, “This doesn’t just mean spreading the gospel, it also means you are to make our relationship above all others.”
As our minds are getting renewed little by little, this is hard to do. It’s hard because we can easily begin to find our identity in a certain person rather than in Jesus. It feels uncomfortable, but we do it anyway. The reason why it feels uncomfortable–no matter how long we stay in denial about it–is because we are one with Christ but we must still choose to live out our relationship. Attempting to replace this relationship with another person will never work for us, permanently.
When we forget, through our denial, that we’re one with Christ, a slow fade occurs resulting in us not being able to enjoy our relationship with Him. Our thought processes about who we are in Christ gets cattywampus the more we ignore Him. Bad relationships then muffle the truth of our union with our Creator and cause us to forget our heavenly identity. This happens especially when we are incorrectly finding our identity in a relationship with a person who couldn’t give two craps about Christ.
What is a bad relationship? It’s a link with another person which causes us to take our focus off of our true nature as God’s children. Because our humanity craves relationship, sometimes the flesh wants us to indulge in bad ones. We just want the relationship, even if it’s unhealthy–that is, the flesh. Why? Because we’re human.
However, bad relationships can bamboozle our thought life in such a confusing way that we begin to believe the lies of the devil as well as those who are highly influenced by him. Sometimes it’s even by way of a Christian who has forgotten who they are, or who never knew who they are because of bad teaching.
God wants to help our relationships flourish and be healthy but we must first remember who we are, even when we don’t act like who we are. But when we finally do, we will be able to establish healthy boundaries and hold people accountable for their poor choices. Yes, we always show grace, but we also understand through God’s Spirit that we are to allow others to fail so they can learn from their own mistakes. We are not responsible for people. Understanding this fact will alter how you engage with those who refuse to grow up. Sure, we can help them, but we are not responsible for them. So if we are helping someone to the point of them being irresponsible, we need to take a step back and refocus on who we are. Not them, but ourselves.
For example, our children. As we live out our lives as our true selves, heavenly parenting becomes organic (see Galatians 5:22-23). But first, we have to set the example for them by making sure they understand through us that we’re not like the rest of the world. We have heavenly DNA and we do things differently. God’s Spirit in us guides us, and we listen to Him. When we don’t, we’re denying who we truly are and our lives will feel “off.”
We care about what God cares about because we are one with Him. When our kids begin to see that through us–even when we fail–we can help them in the right way. But, we still allow them to be responsible for their own choices even when we temporarily make poor choices ourselves. We don’t become their “friend” rather than their parent because we keep screwing up. We are to take responsibility for our own mistakes while still holding them accountable for theirs. Excuses won’t work, we must allow God to reshape our attitudes and actions even when we are trying to guide our children to do the same.
Same in your marriage. The more you learn about your true identity as a holy saint (see Colossians 1:22, Hebrews 10:10), the more you learn just how valuable you are. In turn, you stop accepting unacceptable behavior as normal. If you built your marriage on accepting unacceptable behavior as normal, a nuclear bomb will go off in your home when you begin to live out who you are in Christ.
God’s Spirit teaches you that it’s not okay for your spouse to dishonor you socially or privately, He wants you to confront such acts. Sure, they will belittle their poor choices or try to turn it back around on you, but the Holy Spirit will always refocus you back to the truth. That is, back to the things that must change.
Even when you temporarily handle your confrontations incorrectly, He still won’t allow you to enable your spouse any longer. A self-centered spouse will point to your confrontation as the problem rather than the actual reasons for the confrontation–but so what. You are focused. You are not getting off track. You are not an enabler. Change must happen and God will bring change to fruition one way or another as you continue to confront. So keep confronting. Do not use the silent treatment and don’t allow the enemy to give you excuses to get revenge by way of sin. Remember who you are!
The Holy Spirit of Christ wants to give you new relationship skills by training you on how to confront people in a healthy way. This will take time, so be easy on yourself. As a Christian, try to remember that you already have the skills in your spirit. By way of practice, those skills will be honed as you mature into who you are. Who are you? God’s own child! Spiritually reborn and heaven-ready! (See John 1:12, 1 John 3:1). He has given you armor and weapons! (See Ephesians 6:10-17). Now He wants to train you on how to use them!
When you continually stand up to unacceptable behavior in a bad relationship–respectfully and lovingly–even in the midst of bombs bursting all around you, you are doing it right! The enemy will be screaming at you night and day, ignore him! It may feel like you’re being defeated, but you’re actually winning battles! God is with you and keeping you safe! God is using these harsh troubles for future good things! He is developing your supernatural talents and teaching you how to have good relationships!
So today, my friends, know this: Jesus heals relationships when both people want it to be healed. If only one person wants it to be healed, then Jesus will destroy that bad relationship because you deserve peace. If that happens, please know your bad relationship was not wasted. God saw your efforts, He knew your heart, and He still knows your heart. Over time, He will actually use the pain from that bad relationship for your purpose! That is, if you’ll give it to Him! Hand it over! Don’t be sour! Don’t be bitter! Don’t focus on the past and move forward! Eventually He’ll bless you with happy and healthy relationships, relationships with people who actually care about you and your needs. Your needs matter–they really do! So don’t be afraid to continually confront! Expect change, remember who you are, and then let God work everything out for a greater good!
A prayer for you: Good morning Heavenly Father, thanks for waking me up today! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. God, so many of them are in pain. They want changes to happen, but they’re afraid. I’m asking that you give them the courage to confront! I’m asking that you teach them who they really are as believers! I can attest to loved ones not liking me as my mind was being renewed by you–this is not easy to deal with. However, as you taught me how to continually confront, those who were used to getting their way with me no longer could. Their unacceptable behavior had to change, and you’ve given me the strength to stand up to it! You did this by teaching me my value and true identity! Please do the same for all of these dear readers! In Jesus’ name, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!