Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
(Romans 12:16-18 NKJV)
How would you evaluate your interactions with others?
Sin often gets between our relationships, because Satan wants us to live contrary to the way God has called us to live. He wants us to be angry, unforgiving, jealous, and judgmental. Many of these emotions emerge as part of our sinful nature, especially when we face difficult situations, but these reactions are traps that cause destruction, brokenness, and distraction.
Even if we don’t react outwardly in negative ways, our inner heart is still visible to God:
“I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10 KJV).
…And somehow, what’s inside will come out in public. Numbers 32:23 says, “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out” (NKJV).
Of course, God doesn’t leave us hopelessly stuck in our weaknesses–He provides a solution. I love looking at the Fruit of the Spirit, because it sets standards for our character that we should follow:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV).
The Lord wants us to grow and be transformed–to do away with the wrong things we might say or think (see Colossians 3:8). Practicing the Fruit of the Spirit can transform who we are and how we treat others.
It’s important to see the reality behind our human struggles. Ephesians makes it clear that these fleshly battles are spiritual ones underneath:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12 KJV).
There is an invisible battle around us in which the enemy is trying to tear people apart, stealing lives that have potential to glorify God. However, we can choose forgiveness and a Christ-like mindset. When we reject our sinful ways, we are fighting the enemy, opening eyes to Christ, and winning lives for the Kingdom–and it’s all possible through Him.
When we respond in fear of people or focus on the wrongs they’ve done, we can be wasting precious time. Dwelling in the past is a time-waster, a joy-killer. There’s a reason that God values relationships, families, and friendships. There’s great power in just two or three people coming together for Christ (see Matthew 18:20). The more godly connections, the more He shines.
Satan tries to manipulate relationships, because he knows he is no match for the body of Christ. I believe he tries to distract us from our mission and purpose on this earth with these earthly battles. Losing sleep over people is not part of God’s plan. Separation and pain caused by grudges, bitterness and anger are not part of God’s plan. Fallouts and unnecessary disagreements are not part of God’s plan.
The devil is your enemy, not people. 1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (KJV).
Although situations can come into our lives without our control, without being our fault, we must remember that God restores. He has the power to replace what has been taken unjustly, and He has the power to provide better things from what has gone away. Don’t allow the enemy to lock you in the past, but also don’t allow him to control your actions in the future.
We have authority in Christ! Guard your heart, and respond with maturity and Christ in mind when it comes to personal conflicts. God has something greater for us to do than be distracted by Satan’s schemes.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
(Proverbs 4:23 KJV)