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Chapter 7 - The Foundation of Relationship
The bible describes the heart as a sort of repository where our desires and values reside. It contains that which motivates us and influences our decisions. In a way, we fill it with that which we see and hear. However, the content of the heart is often measured by what we say.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. - Luke 6:45
Even in superficial relationships or business relationships our character (the configuration of our heart) is an important component. If we are reliable, trustworthy, honest, and have integrity, we are more likely to be seen as someone with whom deeper relationships can be built. If we consider the natural state of fallen man, we can see how unlikely it is that we would have admirable character qualities without the intervention of God.
To understand what we have within us naturally to bring to the table (as a basis for relationship) we can consider the first temptation. We can observe three stages. The first is to disconnect us from God by means of doubt.
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? - Genesis 3:1
The result of this was to get Eve to answer for God in her own strength as evidenced by her not being accurate.
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. - Genesis 3:2-3
Our doubts make us vulnerable to being deceived. Once we have been lured away from God, our own desires can be appealed to so that we accept almost any deception.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: - Genesis 3:4
The clincher becomes that which appeals to us without God. We may see God as powerful, and having everything. Because we would like to have things as well, we are particularly vulnerable to promises of godhood. (This is perhaps what drives Satan himself).
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. - Genesis 3:5
Apart from God our focus becomes self. This limited vision sees only what it can gain. If we consider God through the lens of truth rather than envy, God is not best seen by what he has, but by what he gives.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16
It is Satan who takes and God who gives. Satan lures us with what we can gain and in so doing uses us for his own purposes. God shows us that in giving, love becomes a lasting foundation, the basis for building something permanent
This illustrates two very different ways to approach life. Consumption sees self at the center and draws in all to feed it. Provision sees the needs of others as a priority and giving draws away from self. The hunger of consumption is never satisfied and grows in isolation. Seeking to provide for and build up others is the expression of love which overflows the heart abundantly.
Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
The natural world limits the degree to which we wish to pursue selfishness. For example, those who wish larger harvests have to work harder to plant, cultivate, and harvest more. Human endurance can only accommodate so much of a desire for more. In the artifical world of society, relationships can be exploited for selfish ambition such as with slavery, fraud, and deception.
The path of the alcoholic perhaps best illustrates where selfishness takes us. At first, many tolerate the foolishness associated with drunkeness. However, as friends and family are neglected and then exploited, tolerance turns into avoidance. The person whose selfish pursuits has alienated everyone, may find himself face down in the gutter and still see no reason for change.
If the focus of our life is what we want and what we can get, we will see people in terms of their usefulness to us. If we see ourselves as complete with few needs, we are free to consider how we might help or be of service to others. It is this selflessness (love) that is the solid foundation upon which real, deep, and lasting relationships can be built.
The opportunity God offers to all for a new and eternal life in Christ is the basis from which we can grow in love. It becomes the foundation of our ability to build solid, lasting, and deep relationships.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. - John 14:23
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: - 1 Thessalonians 3:12
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