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Are you focused only on what you can get from people?

The man saw Peter and John going into the Temple and asked them for money. Peter and John looked straight at him and said, “Look at us!” The man looked at them, thinking they were going to give him some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold, but I do have something else I can give you. By the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, stand up and walk!” Acts 3:3-6

young_woman_praisingRecently, I realized that all the dead and dying relationships I’ve been writing about for years ended, in the mind of the other parties, because they no longer saw any usefulness in me. They had gotten what they were after or no longer had any interest in what initially brought us together. Some exploded in anger as they exited my life, intent on making me bear the burden of their dissatisfaction with life. Others simply faded away by not answering calls or responding to messages or showing up when asked or needed. However, not one of them had the decency and honesty to simply say, “I no longer want or need anything from you so this is where we part ways.”

I could have understood and appreciated such a direct statement. It would have stung, yes. Perhaps the hurt would have lingered. But I would not have wondered “what happened”, “what did I do”, “how can we make this right”, “I thought we were friends”, “I thought you said you love me”. Such unanswered thoughts are torture to the soul. Such aching questions do more damage than being dismissed by someone you held in your heart as a friend. But honesty should not be expected from selfish people. Selfish people will always and only do what is in their best interests at the expense of their relationship with other people. Being confronted with this world reality repeatedly over the years has not eased the immediate pain of recognizing the end of a relationship. However, the more I have focused on my relationship with my Father God, the Son He gave me as Savior and His Spirit He poured into me, the less time I’ve spent mourning the fruitless relationships I poured myself into.

The first blog post I wrote was titled, “Can I love you?” It was written at the beginning of my intentional walk with my Lord. I pleaded in that post for people to allow me to love them as an expression of God’s love for His creation. In this post, five years later, my message is no different. I still only have love to offer to those who have rejected and will reject my sincere efforts to share the love poured into me with them. I can truly say, my life and the love in me are not diminished by rejection. {That has been an excruciating lesson to experience and learn!} However, the quality of my love has been refined through the many rejections. I’ve learned to offer less of me and more of Christ and with each disappointment I am strengthened in my resolve to remain submitted to God’s will for me in these fleeting relationship interactions.

As I look back over the relationships that have strained and drained me the most, I recognize that those people were not interested in truth, honestly, faith, or love. They weren’t interested in me as a person. They may have talked a talk for a while, but they were only interested in what they could get from me at that particular time. As they rifled through my life scavenging for what they valued, they threw away the most valuable gift I had to offer: the love of God, given as His Son, Jesus, and poured into me as His Spirit.

Related posts:

Can I Love You?

When your love is rejected

It is finished. 

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It is finished.

Earlier this year, “it is finished” looped on replay in my mind in the context of the dead relationships in my life. For the last several years, I had been trying to maintain, revitalize, pump up and get things started in various relationships. It took me a while to realize that God was separating me from, not only the unbelievers in my life, but also from the relationships that weren’t bearing good fruit. Once that realization came, it was easy to let go of people who didn’t want to be held.

So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matthew 7:19-20)

Late last spring, I had a dream that should have been disturbing (taken at face value) but was more of a relief.

I don’t recall the sequence but there was a scene where all types of bugs were seen crawling around a sleeping body when a light was flipped on. There was a scene of a big, dark, empty room penetrated by several beams of light coming through a torn and drooping curtain. Then the most potentially disturbing scene was that of a decomposing body lying in the corner with the head stuck to a mop. Sounds gritty and nasty, I know. You’re probably wondering where the relief came in. After each scene the room was flooded by a bucket of hot, soapy water. The bugs were washed away, the curtain was fixed and pushed back to let more light in and the decomposing body was removed and the area it infected was cleansed. The scenes went on in a rotation with each one slightly different than before. The little bugs were washed away, but later one huge, animal size flying bug unfolded on a counter top. The decomposing body was removed with the mop, but then the mop was needed to clean the floor, so the body had to be approached and disconnected from the mop in order to better clean the floor. Again, each scene ended with a full cleaning of the room and exposure to additional light.

I awoke feeling as if some work had been completed.

Whatever I had been doing that was not bearing fruit, I felt free to withdraw from. Whatever was weighing me down and blocking my light was being removed from my life. My Father was cleansing me. He was washing away all the darkness and ushering me further into His Light.

God requires obedience, faithfulness, respect, loyalty and a continued hope in Him. In return we receive His love, mercy, grace and salvation – actually that’s all on offer before we are placed in the womb. But we have to accept it all in order to benefit from it all. Our obedience is proof of our love of Him – keeping his law, adhering to his commands. Though His nature is love and he gives love unconditionally, we have the option to reject His love. Astounding, really – rejecting love; turning your back and walking away from it. But we have the choice to do that; the “freedom” to do as we please. However, the consequence of our choosing against God, love and life is that He then chooses not to fellowship with us. Our choices either unite us to God or separate us from Him.  He tells us to make ourselves holy for Him because He is holy. He wants fellowship, but there are requirements we have to meet.  

For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44)

Follow me here: If we model our relationships after the prototype God has given us for our relationship with Him, there are basic things that both parties have to contribute to any relationship (be it friend, family, spouse, employment, etc) for it to be successful. There needs to be an obedience/adherence to and respect for the foundation and expectation laid for the relationship (i.e. boundaries), there needs to be loyalty, faithfulness and a hope for continued growth and improvement. There needs to be a consciousness of and an effort to meet the requirements of the other party in the relationship. When both parties are giving and doing all that (and more according to each individual needs), each will bask in the others’ grace, mercy and covering.

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)    

However, when love, loyalty, faithfulness, and respect are lacking from either party (to the other), the relationship becomes stagnant, it becomes a dead weight – a decomposing corpse. Relationships aren’t intended to be one-sided. Yes, God loves you unconditionally, but even He has requirements of you in order for you to reap the benefits of His love.

For those of you not doing your portion of the work in your relationships, wake up before you’re washed away. And for those of you toiling alone, think about breaking ground elsewhere. When the other party in the relationship you’re toiling in doesn’t accept or receive you, and you’ve done everything you know to do, let go and move on. That has been a hard lesson to learn, but I finally got it: Not every situation I contribute to will grow the expected or hoped for fruit. And sometimes the fruit grown from a seed I plant may not be for me to harvest. It may not even be for me to water it. It may just be for me to sow the seed and move on. We will reap what we sow, but there’s no promise to reap where we sow.


Meditation verse: Hebrews 10:19-22

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.