Read Ephesians 4:29-5:2.

This passage is easy to understand but much harder to live out. We want to have this kind of authentic Christian community, but we allow things to get in the way. We put off actually taking action to initiate and nurture these relationships. We are trapped by awkwardness, not knowing what to do or say or simply being held by a fear of doing something wrong. Or we can’t get past the people we have bad history with.

We know God wants us to have good Christian relationships, but we struggle to get deep. The most some of us are currently experiencing of this true community could barely constitute getting our foot through the door. Thankfully, God shows us the ultimate foundation any relationship can have: Himself. When the relationship’s focus is God, it will last longer and grow deeper than any other. The goal should be to help each other glorify God and grow in Christ Jesus.

There are some things that can crush a relationship before it even gets off the ground. These poisons include bitterness, rage, anger, slander, brawling, and every other form of malice there is. These hard feelings make it near impossible for us to honestly care about a person’s best interests and can cause us to lose sight of how we should be acting toward them. Instead of letting these emotions control our actions, we need to take these unresolved conflicts and surrender them to God. Once we have forgiven the other person, then we can move on to the way we should be treating them.

Relationships aren’t a one-way street. There isn’t just talking or just listening. There aren’t just words or just actions. There’s some of each. Verse 29 tells us not to let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. Though we may not be insulting the person who hears, it still affects them in a negative way. Instead, we need to be encouraging and help each other with our words according to what they need to hear. How do we do this? By listening to what they tell us. We need to learn to stop and take the time to really listen to what a person is saying beyond just the words coming out of their mouths. We need to be showing kindness and compassion to others by the way we act too.

We are called to love one another just as Jesus loved us. Jesus didn’t do things half-heartedly. He went all out because of His love for us. He initiated–He came. He nurtures our relationship with Him by His love and grace. He helps us and doesn’t care how awkward something could become. He acts out of true love.

In the end, this is where we gain the desire to love others from. When we see how loving our God is to us, we long to love others the same way. We don’t build these relationships to gain love, but to give love we have already received. In order to love others this way, we have to have a strong love relationship with God. We have to remain in the Source of all love. We need to learn Who God is so we can know how to love like Him. We need to follow His example. He loved us first, and now He calls us to love Him and others in response. So it all comes down to being utterly and indescribably sunk in the love of our great God, as it usually does. 🙂

How do we know how to love others? The Bible shows us how Jesus lived and we need to follow it. God leads us from there. Verse 30 tells us to not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. When you’re wondering whether something is a good idea, ask Him. If you know it’s something God is not leading you to do, don’t do it. If it’s something God wants you to do, follow His lead into it.

Being kind to others and building these relationships can be easy one day and hard the next. But what’s amazing is we don’t have to let our feelings predict our actions. We can always choose the way we act, and we can choose to act like God. I know it can be very hard when it seems people are just trying to hurt us, insult us, leave us out, or knock us down, but it’s always better to show love and forgiveness like Jesus does. God showed us the ultimate act of love when He sent His Son for us. He will help us be more like Him.

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”—1 John 4:12

Lord, thank You for Your great love and forgiveness for me. Thank You for this relationship i can have with You. Please help me love You more. And please help me love others more. You are love, and i need Your help. Open my eyes to see Who You truly are and how You’re calling me to show Your love to others. In Lord Jesus Christ’s Name i pray. You have the whole world in Your hands! Hallelujah! Blessed be Your Name! Amen.