On Being Hindered - Part 5
- 2010 27 Apr
The truth is we cannot make decisions on what we do not know. I say it again, and again because these what ifs are sometimes the currency of relationships. We live by these "what ifs!" but we cannot act upon the mist of what we do not know. We cannot live by, cannot live for, and dare not act on what we do not know. Whether you begin, end, or continue a relationship, do so because of what you know. So what do we know?
We know without a doubt it is God's will that we "be sanctified: that [we] should avoid sexual immorality"(1 Thessalonians 4:3). We know that we are to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and that it is God's will that, by "doing good [we] should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:15). We are told that within God's will it is better to "suffer for doing good than for doing evil" (1 Peter 3:17). So, the first thing to say is that ANYTHING, or anyone keeping you from fulfilling these obvious examples of God's will should be considered a hindrance.
This means that if the relationship has fallen prey to sexual immorality you have a clear signal that it is not going in the right direction. If a relationship has stolen all your joy and you are unable to "give thanks" for the relationship—you have the Lord's voice on the matter. If through the relationship you are unable to "do good," then the relationship is a hindrance to "doing God's will"—you have God's voice on the matter.
Please don't listen to just me. Seek counsel from those you trust and take action. I have no idea if it means ending YOUR relationship, but to do nothing—to continue in an unhealthy manner—is to invite disaster.
While staying in the relationship may seem noble, it may also be foolish and pointless. Doing good may mean allowing that person their time with the Lord to find the submission and dependence THEY need to be "sanctified." If it is God's plan to bring the relationship around later, that is God's business.
As Jesus said to Peter "You must follow me" (John 21:22). This has always struck me because I am very concerned with other people and how they are doing. We cannot fix the broken pieces of another person's heart with the broken pieces of our own heart. It takes the Great Physician to heal broken people. But don't hang around the shop as he cuts, scrapes, and fashions that soul. Give him room to work.
There are no easy answers, but the reasons for staying in a relationship are the same for leaving a relationship. Staying is dependent on that person being an aide to your higher goals. Do they love God, love you, and love others?
Paul's prayer for the Philippians was that their love "may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that [they] may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ…" (Philippians 1:9-10). Love should "abound more and more" both in zeal and passion. Love should "abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight."
Is the person you love pursuing God, pursuing you, and pursuing others? Is that person growing in "knowledge and depth of insight"? If they are not pursuing a greater knowledge of God, they will never truly know his will for the two of you. If they are not pursuing you, pursuing knowing you, they will never grow in "knowledge and depth of insight" of you.
We all hope to "abound more and more" in knowledge and depth of insight so that with our whole heart we think the mind of God. We look to eventually "have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16). The mind of Christ seeks the benefit of the beloved. Christ's love does "not seek its own." How does this person reflect Christ?
Notice I asked, "Is the person you love pursing God …" I will never deny that love is love. We may genuinely LOVE a person, but love them enough to let them go. Love desires the best for the beloved. This may mean moving forward, but it may also mean ending the relationship—being hindered.
I still appreciate the advice Paul gives in the twelfth chapter of Romans. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).
Paul is telling us that the problem is in our minds. We sometimes have a hard time deciding whether to end a relationship because we are not thinking straight. I have been there on more than one occasion. Far too often I knew what to do, but my mind conjured other ideas that made me pause. The problem was in my mind.
The problem is how we think and the form our desires take. It is our conformation "to the pattern of this world." If you have never done a full rethinking of your dating habits as a "Christian," I urge you to do so. Who you date and why you date should align with God's will for you.
You are dating in order that you might be joined to someone who is an aide to your life in Christ. You are dating in hopes of finding someone who will help you grow more and more in righteousness. And, oh yes, this person is to be a friend, companion, and lover. But if they are not an aide to your walk, the love will be anemic, the companionship shoddy, and the friendship fleeting.
Part of the problem is that many Christians are still pursuing relationships in the way the world pursues relationships—selfishly. How does a person know if this or that relationship should continue? It depends on the goals and dreams they nurture. If what they desire is a consuming passion for the things of God and a holistic transformation to think the mind of God—discernment is a must. Become a relational connoisseur and put aside that which hinders so that you might "run the race." Yes! Be picky! You are the child of a GREAT KING!
Think of it this way: you are running a race—will you be pulling this person along or will you be running further, refreshed by their help? It really is no great mystery when we consider the raw facts. The Christian life is not a vacation, but a MISSION! It is a life of purpose and a purpose for life. If this were not true, he would remove us the moment we were saved to keep us from the misery of this world.
Instead, he has left us here for a greater purpose and all relationships must serve this greater purpose. Our work and play must serve this greater purpose. Our whole being must resonate with this greater purpose. This is the living "above our means" we must do.
But when it comes to relationships, when it comes to simply enduring the mediocrity of a relationship because it is "better than being alone," we need a "transforming of our minds." If you are to "test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will," then be transformed by the renewing of your mind. But first, offer your [whole self] as a living sacrifice" to the Lord. Then, whether you keep or end a relationship, it will be done through and for him.
Hudson Russell Davis was born on a small Island in the West Indies called Dominica, and this is only one reason he does not like cold weather and loves guava. He is a graduate of James Madison University with a B.A. in Graphic Design and earned a Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate at Saint Louis University studying historical theology. Hudson has worked as a graphic artist and worship leader but expresses himself through poetry, prose, photography, and music. His activities are just about anything outdoors, but tennis is his current passion.
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**This article first published on April 27, 2010.