We should be thankful for the people whom God places in our life. We should love them dearly. We should treat them with honor and respect. We should do all we can to maintain the unity and peace of our relationships with them. We should be willing to give to and serve them. We should be open to them as they speak into our life. We should recognize that we were designed to live in loving community with others like them.
But we cannot look to others to provide for us what only God can provide. There are many, many Christian relationships that are hurtful, painful, and marked by conflict and disappointment because the people in those relationships are placing a burden on those relationships that no human relationship can bear.
Have you ever been caught in a relationship where you either were relying on the community to provide your healing, your breakthrough, your deliverance? Have you ever felt like others were relying on you for their progress with Christ?
- No person can be the source of your identity.
- No one can be the basis of your happiness.
- No individual can give you a reason to get up in the morning and continue.
- No loved one can be the carrier of your hope.
- No one is able to change you from the inside out.
- No human being can alter your past.
- No person is able to atone for your wrongs.
- No one can give your heart peace and rest.
Asking another human being to do those things is like requiring him to be the fourth member of the Trinity and then judging him when he falls short. It simply cannot and will not work.
If we hook the hope of our heart to the people around us, we will always be disappointed. No one is able to be our personal messiah.
We must realize, it is vital to remember that human love is a wonderful thing, but we will only ever find life— real, heart-changing, soul-satisfying life— in a vertical relationship. We should enjoy human love, but we should look to God for our spiritual vitality and strength. We should commit to long-term, loving, mutually serving relationships, but we must remember that only God can save us, change us, and deliver us from ourselves.
What are some areas of your life that you have been praying for change and it has not happened? Are there things you have been relying on your community to deliver you from?
We should be willing to make sacrifices of love for others, but we should place our hope only in the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Could it be that the disappointment we experience in our relationships is the product of unrealistic and unattainable expectations? Could it be that we have unwittingly put people in God’s place? Could it be that we ask the person next to us, or around us to do for us what only God can do? There is but one Savior, and he is ours forever. We don’t need to put that burden on the person next to us.
9Do your best to come to me soon. 10For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 12Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 14Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. 16At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. – 2 Timothy 4:9-16 ESV