by Tom Holladay
“Let us stop just saying that we love people. Let us really love them, and show it by our actions.” 1 John 3:18 (LB)"
Even in the best of relationships, we struggle with selfishness. That’s why it’s so important to look to God as your example when you encounter problems.
How do you inject even a small amount of unselfishness into a relationship? You need to love based on God’s power and not your own power. Ephesians 4:32 teaches us, “Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ” (NCV).
The only way I can find the power to forgive somebody is because God has forgiven me. His strength in me gives me the power to forgive somebody else.
How do you forgive? How do you let go of bitterness? Only God can give you a new kind of power to do that.
Philippians 2 teaches us, “Don’t be selfish. Don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself … Your attitude should be the same that was shown us by Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his right as God” (vv. 3, 5 LB).
If anyone has the right to cling to his rights, it’s Jesus Christ. But instead, he went to a cross and died for us. He gave up his rights so that you and I could have forgiveness and life.
We want to be like Jesus. We need to be the unselfish one. We will still struggle with selfishness, but if we look to God, who shows us how to do it, and ask Jesus for the power, then we can make the right decision. And instead of having a downward struggle of relationship, we’ll find and upward growing of relationship.
When you look at how much God has forgiven you, you can find the strength to forgive. When you think about how patient he has been with you, you can find the strength to be patient with somebody else.
When you consider the willingness to be honest with your faults, you look to Jesus who is honest about everything. When you see the sacrifice he made on the cross for you, then you find the power to make sacrifices in your marriage, for your kids, for a friend.
(Tom Holladay is a teaching pastor at Saddleback Church and author of The Relationship Principles of Jesus.)