Have you found yourself struggling to maintain your relationships through various seasons of your life? The truth is, relationships are one of life’s greatest challenges and most tremendous rewards. There are few things that come close to the eternal value of our relationships, and stewarding them well during our time on Earth is our highest commandment, carrying a Heavenly weight into the age to come! THE FATHER COMES FIRST Consider for a moment God's careful craftsmanship of mankind in Genesis chapter 2. From the dawn of creation, humans were intended to walk in the garden of relationship with their Creator. Only due to deception and sin was there separation between God and humanity. Now, think about the great exchange God the Father made in order to restore a relationship with us after the fall – the life of Jesus on the cross. This sacrifice is the most painful, gruesome, unjust, yet powerful and significant moment in history, all in an effort to regain connection with us. Are you catching the theme here? God, the author and perfect representation of relationship through His eternal covenant, has shown His desire and value for a relationship with us.
As Jesus Himself teaches, the first and greatest commandment in all of Scripture is this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). God comes first above every other relationship. Let me be clear, this doesn't mean that we abdicate our responsibilities to other relationships. In fact, in the next verse, Jesus addresses this very thing: “The second [commandment] is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Our capacity to steward our relationship with God and others is paramount to living in obedience and experiencing the fullness of life that God has designed for us. DISTRACTION DELUGE Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t give away what you don’t have?” It's crucial that we protect our time and attention, ensuring they are available for the things that matter most. If our relationships are the most valuable treasures we're entrusted with, it's essential to invest our time and attention in them so they can withstand the tarnishing effects of daily life. In this digital age, it can be crippling to fight the battle of distraction that is so detrimental to our relationships. We can't effectively steward our relationships if we live by reaction to distractions instead of by intention! There are a lot of shiny things happening in the world day in and day out. From social media to emails, texts and calls, I’m almost certain there are 30 ways to get in touch with someone before 6am! When I was growing up, you had to actually wait until someone got to where a telephone was to be able to get their attention. Oftentimes, the challenge is that we don’t know how to set boundaries with people, and the squeaky wheel gets the oil, monopolizing our time. What I mean is, when we fear offending others, we become victims of their desires, leaving no time for those who are most important to us. When we feel the pressure to accommodate everyone, consequently, other people dictate our destiny. A PROACTIVE PLAN “So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17). In order to steward our relationships in accordance with the will of God, we need to start by asking Him who to prioritize. Obviously if you’re married or have children, your spouse and kids are at the top of the list! In determining your priorities, leave room for the Holy Spirit to redirect in your decisions. It will require discernment and wisdom to distinguish who should occupy the inner courts of influence in your life and who the Lord is asking you to pour into. I pray that today you will be enlightened by the Holy Spirit with the understanding of how you should be spending your precious time. I pray that as you steward His answer, each day will become more meaningful than the last!
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