Choosing Joy In Your Relationships

by

From the Series: Choosing Joy

Is there a single secret key to having great relationships? Yep! But knowing the answer doesn’t make it easy.

The secret to having great relationships is SELFLESSNESS.

By the way, I think we need a quick refresher on what selflessness actually means and what it doesn’t mean.

Selflessness does NOT mean:

  • Neglecting yourself in terms of caring for your own basic needs.
  • Absorbing abuse without laying down proper boundaries.
  • Lowering your estimation of your own worth and value.

Selflessness DOES mean:

  • A watchfulness toward the needs of others.
  • A sensitivity toward the pain of others.
  • A willingness to sacrifice for the good of others.

Imagine what the world would look like if we would just put others first. We could solve almost every global issue if we were a selfless society.

But instead, we’re competitive.

Being competitive isn’t all bad. Wanting to win is a good thing unless winning comes at the expense of the needs of others.

Paul wrote to the Philippians about joy, and he spent a whole passage of his letter on the idea of choosing joy by choosing others instead of choosing self…

Philippians 2:1-11 NRSV

[1] If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, [2] make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. [3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. [4] Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. [5] Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, [7] but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, [8] he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death- even death on a cross. [9] Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(There is certainly a theological angle to be preached from this passage, but in this particular message, I’m focusing more on the relational implications of Jesus’ selfless example.)

How can we practice the art of selflessness within our relationships?

1. I can seek to have my needs met by Christ.

You’ve probably heard that there’s a “God-shaped hole” in all of us, and I believe that’s true in the sense that there are deep needs our Creator wants to satisfy deep within us, in the holy temple of our own souls, rather than our seeking to have those needs met from sources outside of ourselves.

When you rely on other people to bring you fulfillment and satisfaction in life, it puts undue burdens on them and leaves you with unmet expectations.

Paul says to seek encouragement, consolation from love, compassion, and sympathy “in Christ.” That is, these needs are best met in our relationship with Jesus.

It’s important to note that the health of any of my key relationships is a determiner of the health of all of my relationships. I can’t expect to have healthy relationships with others but not with myself or with God, and so on.

2. Strive for the goal of oneness and unity.

One of the most remarkable things about Jesus and his church is the emphasis on the inclusion of everyone who wishes to be part of the family through faith in Christ. People from all kinds of backgrounds, ethnicities, viewpoints, and stories are welcome to find common ground in Christ.

John 17:20-21 NRSV

I ask… that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Jesus reminds us that our oneness is a witness.

And oneness is the goal of any relationship. In marriage, we become one flesh.

3. Seek out ways to act to meet the needs of others.

This requires intentionality. Jesus didn’t accidentally suffer on the cross for us – he chose to go there. He saw our need. He embraced God’s will. He willingly sacrificed himself on behalf of those whom he loved.

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

– Dale Carnegie

4. Follow Jesus as the ultimate example.

1 John 2:6 NRSV

Whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.

The real mark of a follower of Jesus is to be like Jesus.

And what did Jesus do? He emptied himself and gave up His rights and privileges for the sake of others and for the glory of God.

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