We’ve all heard the saying, “Women, can’t live with them, can’t live without them.”
Just in case you’re curious, this is a quote by Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch Philosopher (c. 1469-1536) who was a contemporary of Martin Luther, known as the most learned scholar of his day.
Yes, of course, I see the humor in the quote. And if I’m honest, I know there’s truth in it as well. But I also think this ancient proverb could be altered to:
“PEOPLE, can’t live with them, can’t live without them.
Let’s face it, relationships—with all people—are hard!
If we’re around any one person long enough, there’s bound to be difficulty. A disagreement. A harsh word. Something’s going to rub us the wrong way. And yet, you and I were made for relationship.
“It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)
God is a social God who lives in community within the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He made humanity in His image, which means, we’re designed for relationship with Him and with others.
God calls us to not only have relationship with others but to love others.(John 13:34, 1 John 4:11;7, John 15:12) And not just to love the people we choose to love. But to even love our enemies! (Luke 6:27) According to 1 Corinthians 16:14, ALL that we do is to be done in love. Now that’s a tall order. Actually, it’s impossible without God, the source of all love.
THERE ARE NO PROBLEM-FREE RELATIONSHIPS
At some point, each of us becomes discouraged and disappointed with relationships because they are not simple. All of our relationships are less than perfect.They are messy and challenging, to say the least. And they require real work if they’re going to thrive.
We all look for strategies that may free us from the pain and hard work that relationships demand. We hope that more effective communication, conflict resolution strategies, personality typing—or a host of other techniques—will make the difference.
Techniques appeal to us because they promise that relational problems can be fixed by tweaking our behavior without altering our hearts.
But the Bible says something different. Christ is the only hope for relationships because only He knows the depths of our hearts with its core motivations and desires.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Jeremiah 17:9-10
Only Christ is capable of cleaning and renewing our hearts to love like He loves.
SOME OF THE HARDEST RELATIONSHIPS ARE WITH THOSE CLOSEST TO US
Read almost any story in the Bible and you’ll see that God is very familiar with flawed family dynamics. King David, one of the greatest heroes in the Bible identified as a man after God’s own heart, was also the father of a highly dysfunctional family. His own son, Absalom, tried to kill him and take over as king! Despite his son’s treachery, David wanted to protect him. David grieved deeply when Absalom was killed. (2 Samuel 13:13-37)
Human sin is no match for God’s grace. He used David and his family in His kingdom. The Psalms David wrote when dealing with the many difficult situations he faced with his family have been used by God for centuries to bring hope and healing to many.
GOD USES MESSY RELATIONSHIPS FOR HIS REDEMPTIVE PURPOSES
Something that happens in the messiness of relationship is our true hearts are revealed, our weaknesses are exposed, and we come to the end of ourselves. This is when we reach out to God for help. And He is the master of love and relationship.
While we would all love to avoid the mess, it’s the very process of working through the mess, that leads us to true intimacy.
WHEN LOVE IS TESTED
Remember who you are in Christ and live that way. Here’s what I mean. If you are very poor and someone steals a dollar from you, you’d be extremely angry and try to get that person to give back the dollar. But if you’re billionaire, and someone takes $100 or even a $1000 from you, it would not feel the same as the dollar that was stolen from a poor person. In the same way, when you become a Christian, you are a billionaire a billion times over.
So when love is tested in your life—and it will be—remember that God is allowing it. The most valuable lessons are learned in the context of relationship.