Today’s Quote: “Great calmness can lay great errors to rest.”-Ecclesiastes 10:4
Today’s Song: “Hold Us Together”- Matt Maher
I hope that yesterday’s message helped you to recognize and begin to snip some strings that have been keeping you tied to people in unhealthy ways.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”- Galatians 5:1
Today we are keeping on that subject of relationship bondage,
but I want us to move our lens over onto a different type of relationship.
Our relationships with other believers.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we call each other.
Oh, these are such great relationships to have.
My Christian friendships rank right up there with my family as my most treasured and precious things on this planet.
I think that it is so important that we have friends and role models and people that we can just open up and share our hearts with.
We need friendships.
We just want to make sure that they're healthy ones.
And that’s what today is about.
That we wouldn’t be free from our past forms of relationship bondage, only to hop right into other forms of relationship bondage inside of our Christian walk.
Does this make sense?
Because God made us relational. We need to relate and we need to connect; and if we’re not connecting with people in ways that are healthy and good for us, then we will undoubtedly find ourselves connecting with people in ways that are unhealthy and no good for us.
It’s as simple as that.
We need to relate!
And if we are going to do life well, then we’re going to need other believers to come alongside us in relationship.
We need to know that when we’re going through something that there are other people who have gone through it before us, or who we can be an encouragement to after we’ve come out of it.
Sometimes we just need somebody to talk to!
Friendships, fellowship, encouragement amongst believers, those are all such important parts of our Christian walk!
My husband and I learned this lesson big time recently.
Due to a move, for a good period of time, we were not regularly attending church or fellowshipping inside of a body. We still had a lot of Christian friends that we called and got together with, but not having a regular cohesive body of believers to worship and serve with definitely took it’s toll on us.
We never realized how important it is for us to be connected and how when we’re not, it is so easy for us to get consumed with our own garbage and our own perceptions of things- rather than having that healthy flourishing spiritual life that is nourished by fellowship and encouragement and accountability.
We need to be sharpened!
“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”- Proverbs 27:17
Women too. Women especially!! We need real friendships in our lives, because left to ourselves we just get weird.
I’m telling you it’s the truth.
We get off on some side-street that we start thinking is the most important road in the world. We start thinking that we know better than everyone else, and really we just end up becoming totally unrelatable.
It’s sad, but it’s true. Think about it.
Any woman that you know who has isolated herself from other people is likely very out of touch and unrelatable.
And if you are naturally a very polite and introverted person like I am then you need to be carful of this.
Make sure that you are letting other people who are good for you into your life.
Other healthy women! Ones who are mature in areas where you could use a good living example of maturity.
On the other hand, I know that some of you are super extroverted people, people! And you all have different things that you need to be careful of.
Make sure that you’re not just allowing every kind of person and idea to penetrate into your personal life.
Be discerning, or else it will be very difficult to find your calling.
You can easily find yourself wrapped up with a lot of people, doing a lot of things, but not doing the things you’re called to do with the proper amount of your heart and time.
Are you getting me?
Girls we should aim to be balanced and discerning in our relationships.
Allowing people to come close and share and love, but not putting so much stock in them that their presence and advice are taking the place of God’s.
Does that make sense? I hope so!
Because being Christian does not just automatically free us from all of our relationship issues. We still struggle with social pressures and politics just like everyone else.
But our goal should be to form healthy relationships inside the body of Christ. Not ones that will hold us back or drag us down.
Remember, the piece of our verse for today says:
“Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
In other words, Christ has set you free, so don’t go trading in one form of bondage for another: STAY FREE!
When I think about common "relationship bondages" inside of Christian circles(think strings that tie us to people in unhealthy ways),
the first personality that comes to my mind is the spiritual know-it-all.
A spiritual know-it-all is that kind of overly-righteous person who has an opinion about everything.
Now again, please know that I’m not trying to talk trash about anyone.
I’m telling you these things because I’ve found myself in some very suffocating relationships with this kind of very strong personality type. And because I feel that new believers and single women are particularly vulnerable to spiritual know-it-alls.
I think that a lot of times these kinds of people are just passionate and lose sight of the fact that their passions, callings, and convictions are for them- not everyone else. I have certainly been that person more than once.
Now I’m not talking about parents or Grandparents or people who really do have a deep down love and care for your well being.
I’m talking about the kind of people who like to assert their agenda and beliefs into everyone else’s lives. People who try to make you feel like they are better and stronger than you are, and that you have a lot to learn from them. Growing more spiritually mature also means growing in humility, not pride.
Be leery of prideful people disguised as prominent Christians.
These relationships can be tricky because sometimes they form very gradually, as we just slowly become more and more nervous to be ourselves around these people, saying only the kinds of things that will meet their approval. (gag).
Now some of this is our own fault for being people-pleaserish instead of just being our true and honest selves; but at the same time, these kinds of people can be very intimidating, especially when you are a new Christian or serving under them in a church setting.
Another sort of similar bondage is when people try to lock you into their preferred teachers and belief systems. Usually with a very heavy emphasis on very petty and legalistic type stuff. The kinds of people who like to address the do’s and don’ts, rather than the heart.
Again, I’m not talking about people who are genuinely caring and helpful or who want to speak wisdom into your life, this is very different. I’m talking about being leery of someone who is continually trying to speak into your life, or make you feel like they know best what you need, or like they have all of the answers.
God has all of the answers, and whether we are part of His family or not does not come down to a to-do list.
It comes down to Jesus.
Him being our father is what makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible even warns us:
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”- 2 Timothy 2:23
God wants us doing big things!! Not fussing over small things!
Some people want to just talk and analyze things to death that are so minor.
Don’t get caught in that stuff, girls!
I realize that some people really do enjoy digging out these mind bending correlations and analogies from God’s words, and there’s nothing wrong with that. God’s word is very deep. But more than that it’s simple.
It’s built for normal non-genius people like me and you to understand and put into practice on a daily basis.
Don’t get stuck in a path of heaviness, making God’s word more complex than it is because someone who is trying to make their burden everyone else’s burden.
Jesus said: “My burden is easy and my yoke is light.” –Matthew 11:30
That doesn’t mean that your life is always going to be easy and light, but I would say that anybody trying to make you feel as though God’s burden is hard, and his yoke is heavy, and anybody trying to get you to listen to them, rather than encouraging you to listen to God, that is someone who you should probably step back from, at least for a season.
Like my husband tells me to do with certain people, “Be friendly, but don’t be a friend.”
Girls, you need to keep your freedom in Christ.
Be stubborn for it!
You are bound to come across some off people, or even some off churches in your walk with Jesus, it just goes with the territory.
And I’m going to go off on a rabbit trail here for a second, but I just want to advise you to be discerning when you’re picking a church. Some churches encourage a dependency on them. A good church encourages a dependency on Jesus.
A lot of churches, even a good church, can tie up too much of your time into their agenda. But you need to be mindful that your relationship and responsibility to Jesus overrides your relationship and responsibility to the church.
Now listen girls, all of this stuff is not about putting a wall up to people or calling things out that you feel like are out of place wherever you see them.
This is about simply keeping in mind that there is a lot of bondage amongst believers, and keeping yourself free from that.
And at the same time, we need to have a whole lot of grace.
People are just people.
Christians are prone to a lot of the same struggles as nonchristians.
But we are called to assemble together, and to love one another. And that, just like marriage, requires an ever-present stream of forgiveness and grace, which can only come from Jesus.
I don’t know where I would be without grace and forgiveness from my fellow believers.
God knows I am wrong so often, and have definitely been that pig-headed person to other people at times.
So to boil all of this down I would say:
Be discerning about who and what you get involved with, and then just have a whole lot of grace.
Discernment and grace.
Discernment because bondage to people in our Christian walk can be such a trap. It can just hold you up worrying about the dumbest things, rather than continually moving forward, and continually blooming into the woman that you were made to be and the calling that God has over your life.
We can’t let people mess that up for us, so we need to be discerning.
And grace because just like we talked about with our relationship to #9, we no longer need people to fill our deepest needs, God does that.
We don’t need people to be perfect.
God is our perfect.
We are free to let people be people, so long as we are letting God be God.
Girls, the church so desperately needs people to bring this attitude into it.
People who are mature enough relationally to let others make mistakes and be human, but to still love with the kind of love that God calls us to toward one another.
To be full of grace and love amidst imperfections.
You have no idea what a light you could be just by doing this!
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” –John 13:35
God wants to use you sister!
But He also wants to use the church and other Christians to help build you up for your calling.
Okay, I was about to just end the day here and I know this is getting long, but I just want to say one more thing quickly and listen to me girls because I feel like this is for a lot of you:
I know that a lot of you don’t even go to church.
And maybe you even hate the thought of being called a Christian because of all the negative connotations.
Christians are a deal breaker for a lot of people who would normally have turned to Jesus by now.
That’s so sad, but let’s just be real here for a minute.
Do we kind of tend to see ourselves as a little bit “above” a lot of what takes place in the church?
Like there’s just not that much attraction to want to be there.
Maybe church to you seems odd, or dull, or just plain corrupt. Hypocritical, maybe. Can I be this honest?
Girls, I have been there!
But can I tell you quickly something I’ve learned?
If I just steer clear of churches and Christians all together because of all of the unhealthy things that manifest there, I’m going to rob myself of all of the healthy and beneficial relationships that I need to grow in my faith.
Because really, girls, we do need other people to uplift us, encourage us, council us, and hold us accountable.
Those are healthy things and are such a necessary part of having a balanced life.
Relationships with other believers are good.
And if I’m going to be a healthy, whole and effective person in this world then I need to learn to deal with people, and my relationships with people properly, rather than just ignore and avoid. Do you see what I’m saying?
And the same goes for you.
If you are going to be a truly fruitful godly woman, you are going to need other people to go through the journey with.
And if you’re willing to look, you will find that there are a lot of genuine, sincere, and very down-to-earth people in the church who are in the midst of their own struggles and victories just like you are. Not that there is a group of perfect Christians anywhere. They’re people, and they are bound to irritate you and rub you the wrong way at times just like anyone would.
But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, as the saying goes.
The enemy would love it if you kept away from other Christians and just never really connected with anyone on that spiritual level, because it would assure that you never get very far.
But God challenges us to rise above and connect with people on a deeper level as bothers and sisters in Christ. And it’s so important that you do.
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” –Hebrews 10:25
Girls, it is HIGH TIME that we stop putting the blame on, and running away from our people and relationship issues.
We need to pray for a little wisdom and discernment, and then DO IT!
Go to church!
Connect with other believers!
You do not know what sort of real friendships are in store for you. Healthy, honest, and nourishing relationships with other believers.
Guard your heart, yes.
Guard your freedom, yes.
But get out there and connect with people on a different level than the world is showing you to do.
Let God change you and teach you!
Let Him grow you to get good at building healthy relationships, rather than just running away from the unhealthy ones.
It’s so necessary for a healthy life!
You don’t need to be like any other person who has put their faith in Jesus.
You’re not supposed to be.
A beautiful, unique piece of God’s perfect puzzle.
Today’s Dare: I dare you to begin seeking out fellowship with other believers. If you can’t find a church that you like, find a good one online, but try looking for a young women’s bible study or some other sort of fellowship.
I dare you to begin to take steps toward making real living connections, with real living believers!
And POFU, of course.