Did you know that the greatest commandments of all are not part of the Ten Commandments? In fact, all of the commandments and laws are an outgrowth of just two. Jesus said this in answer to the lawyer's question in Matthew 22:36-40.
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Many of us are praying for healing, deliverance, and prosperity. We want joy, peace, and happiness in our homes. We want better relationships with family and friends, especially during the Christmas season. However, the answer to seeing these needs and desires met is all wrapped up in receiving God's love and then walking in that love toward others.
In September I wrote to you about God's love toward you in the article, "Look Who Jesus Loves." Once you understand just how much He loves you, it's not hard to love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love others as yourself. Yet, many claim to love God and still don't walk in love toward others.
1 John 4:19-21 says,
"We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."
That is a strong, strong passage of Scripture. Most of us want to interpret that some other way to take the bite out of it, but I just can't see any way around this. If someone says they love God but harbor hate and resentment toward others, they are lying. We need to understand that this is the truth and begin to allow God's love to flow through us to others, including those we don't like and those who have hurt us.
In James 2:8 it is called the Royal Law:
"If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well."
This means that it is the highest of all the laws, which is the same point that Jesus made in Matthew 22. The greatest thing any of us can do is to love God and to love people. That is the number one thing that God has given us to do. Until this becomes the focus of our lives, we are not going to benefit from His love working in us, and we will give Satan a tremendous inroad.
The Bible says that offenses will come. If you live on this earth among people, someone is going to rub you the wrong way sooner or later. And, according to 2 Timothy 3:12, just because you are a Christian and identify with Jesus, some are going to hate you:
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
Most of the problems we have with people are the result of envy and strife. It might be our fault, their fault, or both, but strife is still the result. James 3:16 states:
"For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work."
People often think of jealousy and envy as the same thing, but they are not. Jealousy desires what someone else has. But envy, according to the dictionary, is not just jealousy. It is jealousy with malice, with intent to hurt or bring another person down. Envy means you are bitter and angry; strife is when you vent that bitterness and anger.
James continues by saying that with those two things come confusion and every evil work. If God is not the author of confusion that means Satan is. So you could say that where envy and strife are found, you will also find Satan and all his evil works. Not some, but every evil work.
So, how do you deal with strife or other problems in relationships? First, evaluate the source. It is always one of four: It could be your fault, the other person's fault, or both of you may be at fault. The fourth source occurs less often and is not the result of strife: God may want you to end a relationship that is hindering your future.
Most people do not want to accept personal responsibility. It's much easier just to point a finger at someone else. The danger with this is that you can develop a victim mentality. You begin to believe that the reason you act the way you do is because of what other people have done to you. You don't believe it is ever your fault. Always begin by looking at yourself first.
Often the problem is only in your mind and doesn't actually exist. It is the result of judging the motives behind the actions of others. You jump to conclusions and take offense based on speculations. One of the qualifications of a minister is that he is sober minded. That means he is void of speculative imaginations. By assuming people's motives are good, most offenses will never develop.
There is a time and place to discern and judge the motives of others, but it must be done properly. I don't have the space in this letter to teach on this, so I recommend you get my new series, God's Kind of Love Through You, which discusses speculative imaginations and godly judgment.
But, what if it's the other person's fault? No matter what they have done, you have a choice in your response. You have 100 percent authority over yourself. You can start walking in love toward another person anytime you decide to. Paul said, "I die daily." And, in 2 Corinthians 4:17, he stated:
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
I won't list them here, but Paul's light afflictions weren't exactly light. They were just light in comparison to the glory he would experience in eternity. If we compared all the hurtful things people have done to us to what Jesus suffered for our sake, our suffering becomes insignificant. It's all a matter of perspective; Paul understood that.
Most of the time broken relationships are the fault of both the people involved. That is especially true in marriage. No man has ever loved his wife the way Christ loves the church, and no woman has ever honored her husband the way the church is to honor God. The key to resolving problems in all relationships begins with forgiveness.
"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." (Matt. 18:21-22)
"Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4)
No one is going to sin against you 490 times in one day! What Jesus is saying is that if a person humbles himself and asks for forgiveness, then forgive him. Forgiveness is the most powerful weapon of all in ending strife and restoring relationships.
If this does not resolve the problem, God has a plan in His Word to help you. Again, I do not have space here to teach on this subject, but it is very important that you know what to do next. In my series, God's Kind of Love Through You, one of the messages is titled, "Dealing with Offenses When All Else Fails." In it, I talk about confronting the person with two or three witnesses present, taking the issue before the church, and turning someone over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh and the salvation of their soul.
In some instances, it might actually be God causing a relationship to break up. There are some relationships that God just doesn't want you to have. For example, He doesn't want you to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. He also doesn't want you to have relationships that might keep you from your destiny. However, this should not be misused as an excuse to end a relationship because you're unhappy (I discuss this point more in my new series).