Cultivating Healthy Relationships

One of the most important aspects of life is participating in and enjoying healthy relationships.

Sadly, there are many relationship-killers that creep in and place a tremendous amount of stress on relationships, preventing us from being fulfilled in the relationships we are in. The longer two people share their lives together, the more likely – complex issues are involved. Rather than focusing on the negative.

What does it take to cultivate relationships as God intended? At the heart of healthy relationships is genuine love.

Paul states in Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one
another in honor.” Love lubricates the functioning of healthy relationships. Notice that love is giving reference. Love is “other’s oriented” and that is not natural, it is supernatural love. It is agapa love, God’s love. We must participate relationally with God to derive His love for others.

To give preference to another is to seek the highest good of another person—without any thought of what I get out of it. To “give preference” to others –before yourself. For us to Love therefore, is to allow the character of God to flow through us to another person…and that without considering any shared benefit we might get from doing so. WOW! That is not the way the world sees love and frankly that is not how we have done love either.

The world sees love as getting. “What am I getting out of it?” We are talking about the kind of love that gives and gives and gives and gives to another person seeks the highest good of the other person without any thought of what I get out of it. Unselfish, unconditional, no thought of reciprocal (mutual) love.

It is in this same context of Romans 12 that Paul admonishes “let love be without hypocrisy.” Hypocrisy means play-acting “pretense”, fake, phony, wearing the mask. That is hypocrisy. That is hypocritical love. You might be saying at this point, well, if you knew my husband or wife, then you would understand why I struggle giving them preference.

Do you think all these early Christian’s behavior was perfect? It was not, they were as dysfunctional as you and I are at times, yet, what is remembered about them is “behold how they love one another.” The Love God was manifest through them despite their imperfections and dysfunctional behavior. To “give preference” is defined as the act of preferring, the state of being preferred, giving advantages to some – over others. The Message Bible translates this verse, “Be good friends who love deeply and practice playing second fiddle.” Not a lot of couples are willing to play second fiddle with one another. In an orchestra, the position of “second violinist” (fiddle) is not as glamorous as that of the “first violinist.” Any conductor will tell you, the hardest instrument to play is “second fiddle.” Plenty of violinists are willing to play “first chair,” but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm…now that is a problem. First violinists get all the attention, that is what makes playing second violin tough. Both “first chair” and “second fiddle” are able to “play the notes, “but “second fiddle” has to play a supporting role, to “defer,” to “give preference.”

Are you loving your partner by “giving preference?” Either we are “play-acting” which is hypocrisy, or we are lovingly choosing to be supportive. Loving relationships are always lovingly supportive of one-another. When it comes to loving one another, you should not be fighting over who’s first.

Playing a supporting role is not as glamours as playing “first chair,” but being willing to relate as “second fiddle,” is often the most loving position to take in relationship with another. Jesus will make it clear to you what position in the “relational orchestra” he wants you to sit today.

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