Right Relationships with Others #3
1 John 2:29 (MSG)
Once you're convinced that he is right and
righteous, you'll recognize that all who practice righteousness are God's true
The “He” in this verse refers to God. The scripture declares that God is love, God
is what love does.
From our first session, you learned that
everything rises and falls on relationships.
The four key relationships of life are the relationship you have with
God, Others, Self, and the Earth. You know that the first relationship you need
righting is your relationship with God.
Because of the sacrifice Jesus made, you can choose to be reconciled to
God: Acknowledge, Believe, Commit, and Ask.
Once reconciled to God you are empowered to set all your other
relationships right. In our first
session, there is a list of 30 characteristics of what a righteous relationship
looks like. These 30 characteristics
create a word picture of the bond shared in your right relationship. You will not be able to live this way, the way
of the 30 characteristics if you do not have a right relationship with
God. Right now, do you have such a
relationship, what can you possibly be waiting for? Get right now and start living in thriving
From our second session, you learned about the 6
relational bonds necessary for creating, maintaining, and growing a right
relationship. Time, Know, Trust, Rely, Commit,
and Touch. Forming and thriving in right
relationships takes time. Over time we get to know the person. We discover over time if they are
trustworthy. Then we discover that they
can be relied upon, they can be counted on.
So we commit to making this relationship a priority. Touch has to do with intimacy. We don’t let strangers touch us, but when it
comes to our friends and lover we welcome their touch.
The relational “Safe Zone” is depicted in the
“When the safe zone rule is followed, then your
relationship grows in healthy and stable ways…”
“There is one basic rule for guarding the safe zone; never go further in
one bonding area than you have gone in the previous.” (ibid.) “You shouldn’t touch more than you are
committed; you shouldn’t commit more than you rely upon; you shouldn’t rely
more than you trust, and you shouldn’t trust more than you know” (Relationship
model teaches trust before touch - The Daily Universe (byu.edu) ).
Suppose the “know” fader is all the way up and all
the other faders are down to zero. This
is a picture of knowing about someone but not knowing them (Job 42:5). You’ve spent time reading their bio and
chasing their latest news, but you have never met them personally. Now based on that knowledge you may decide
that you can trust them, but dare you to rely on them, dare you to commit
yourself to them. Nope. As we spend time with someone we experience
their character, attitudes, and dispositions.
Doing things with them we learn their likes and dislikes, the things
they are apt to do. We learn their back
story, and how they got to where they are today, that knowledge helps us
understand why they do the things they do.
What a joy it is to know that the person you are hanging out with is
If the trust fader is the highest this is a
dangerous relationship for you. You may
discover that your trust is misplaced and this person somehow betrays you. Trust makes us vulnerable. If you don’t know someone, it’s a gamble to
trust them. Have you ever purchased
something on the recommendation of a celebrity only to find out that whatever
you bought did match up to the expectation?
Put that on a relational level and what you thought a person was all
about turned out to be something very different. Few marriage relationships survive
infidelity. One partner has an affair
and the trust fader drops to zero. It
takes years to push that fader back into the safe zone. What a joy it is when you have a partner that
you trust completely, you know that your heart is safe in their hands (Isaiah
An insecure relationship has a high Rely
fader. How scary! You are relying on
someone to come through for you. What if
they can’t, what if they don’t? I relied
on the medical community to take care of my son. In retrospect that was a bad choice. I relied on someone to guide me through a
legal maze. I didn’t know the person
beyond their bio. I learned after it is
a done deal that I settled for far too little.
You want to know and trust the person you are relying on. What a joy it is when you have friends you
know and trust you can rely on; that they will do their best to come through
for you ( Psalm 46:1-3; Deuteronomy 31:6).
When commitment ranks the highest among the five
relational bonds then you have a one-way relationship. You are the one always doing for, always
acquiescing, there is little reciprocation.
You desperately want the relationship to work, you’ll do anything for
the other person to keep it. You are
always second place. You’re taken for
granted. You give, and you give, and you
give, but it never satisfies. You’re
always at fault. If you just try a
little harder the relationship will be better.
If you don’t give them what they want there’s a fight, a tantrum, the
silent treatment, passive-aggressive behaviors, or in worse case scenarios
violence. This is bondage. This is you
being used to satisfy the wants of another.
What joy it is when you have a friend who is as committed to the shared
relationship as you, you know that you will stand side by side when life goes
crazy, and you know that you are in life together (Hebrews 13:5).
The last relationship bond is touch. Think about the need for proximity to
maintain and deepen a righteous relationship.
This is spending time with each other.
One of the reasons long-distance relationships often fail is because
friends don’t connect often enough. Yes,
we have old friends, and when we finally get to be with them it’s like ole
times. But that’s a memory touch. Memory touches are wonderful, the problem
with them is it’s a relationship based on a memory, on what was. Think about physical contact. Hugs heal, the handshake, the high five, and the
warm embrace is expressing an acceptance of one another. Sexual intimacy is the highest form of
touch. If touch is the highest fader
most likely you are in a romantic relationship that is going to end badly. If there is no romance it’s just sex for the
very temporary dopamine rush that once it wears off you’re still lonely. Sex is all about attachment and reproduction,
with an emphasis on attachment (Song of Songs 2:6, 3:4). What a joy it is when the touch of the other
affirms your relationship, it communicates that you are OK in the eyes of the
other, and you know you are accepted warts and all (Matthew 17:7).
When evaluating your relationships if you’re not
in the safe zone identify which fader is in the wrong position. Then make the adjustments. Too physical then cut back until there is
balance. Too committed, then pull back,
to foster reciprocity, that brings balance.
Too much reliance, then stop expecting so much of the person and do what
you want them to do for you for yourself until there is balance. Too much trust, blind trust, don’t be
naïve. Test if a person is worthy of
your trust, do they do what they say they are going to do? If not put up a barrier to protect your heart
until you are convinced that what you see is the real person. The problem with the know fader is knowing
about but not experiencing the person.
This is overcome by spending time with the individual. It takes about four seasons, spring, summer,
fall, and winter, four quarters, to get to experience, someone.
In the safe zone, you will experience love. Love is seeking to meet the need of another
often at the cost of a personal sacrifice.
Righteous relationships are all about love. That list of 30
characteristics is all about caring for one another. God wants you to enjoy a right relationship
with others. You were created
social. There is wonderful transparency
that was revealed to us in Eden, the man and the woman were naked and
unashamed. What a picture of acceptance,
of being safe. You need this. God has empowered you to create such a
relationship with others. Strive for
righteousness in your own life and then use the power given to you to create,
maintain and deepen right relationships with others.
Just to add a little more to think about. Right relationships regularly go out of
balance. Life’s pressures and
circumstances force the five relational bonds over time to shift. You sense a shift in your relationship,
things just don’t feel right, and something is off, this is an invitation to
check your five relational bonds. One or
more are most likely out of balance.
Since each bond is over time, it might be that you are not spending
enough time together to maintain a satisfying relationship. You balance through constant
communication. In a righteous
relationship, you are free to express your needs, your wants, and even your
suspicions. Here’s a tip. Don’t start by asking if something is wrong,
start with what is bothering you. Don’t
expect the other to guess at what’s not up to par, tell them, but don’t accuse
them. People in right relationships
listen to one another, they listen for the heart of what is being said. Be wise in your responses but don’t go
passive and fail to speak the truth in love.
The purpose of communication is to make each other transparent.
In our teaching, we learned that relationships
thrive when they are in the “safe zone.”
You have a tool to help you create and maintain balance by examining the
five relational bonds on faders. You
know that the biggest aid in balancing relationships is open, honest, loving
communication. We know that righteous
relationships are founded in love, and thrive in love. So if you want your life full of these kinds
of relationships be a lover. God has
already empowered you to be so.
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