Something About Speaking The Truth In Love

Whilst roaming around looking for material for an upcoming project, I came across this video.

It is truly remarkable how much teaching we still need on the issue of communicating properly with each other. This video is designed for married couples, but there are lots of principles that can be applied to most relationships.

It saddens me to see relationships crumble because we just don’t know how to speak the truth in love. As long as there is God and His wisdom, there is hope that we can learn and will do to the glory of God.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Advertisements

The Greatest Commandment (11): Commitment to Contentment

There is something about loving the other that does not look to take from the other person without permission.

That very desire to take without permission says something about the sense of contentment experienced. This is why it remains the believer’s massive challenge not to take from others but find contentment in what has already been given to us by God. That takes much in this age of covetousness under the masquerade of consumerism that contradicts contentment.

This is nothing new and there is a good word from Paul of Tarsus who discovered the heart of contentment.

Oh look – the famous ‘I can do all things through Christ’. Oh but look, it has nothing to do with passing exams, getting a new job or completing a significant project. This has to do with what Paul considers to be important – the secret of how to stay content with what ever condition you find yourself in.

That contentment gives freedom and space to not go looking to take from someone else, but look for opportunities to give, knowing where your strength is found and that same source giving provision for time of need. That level of confidence is another expression of love for God which has a massive bearing on how to truly love the other.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Greatest Commandment (10): Cherishing Faithfulness

It’s one thing to witness love and faithfulness growing up. It’s a completely different thing to engage in it and yet isn’t that what life has been pointing to all along?

Exploring faithfulness often brings up the question of cheating. I remember a friend sharing something profound with me about cheating vs faithfulness. The phrase often used is that someone is ‘cheating on me’. That is with reference to someone engaging in an illicit relationship with someone else. Many would agree that this is a blatant act of being unfaithful. My friend pointed out, however, that being unfaithful is not just about cheating on the other person, it can simply be cheating the other person by not giving them the devotion and attention the relationship deserves. Being self-absorbed, then, is an act of being unfaithful, because the investment that should be with the other person is not being given to them, you cheating them, even if you are not cheating on them.

Being faithful, then, is about consistently investing into the relationship exclusively what belongs to that relationship – not giving it to anyone or anything else. That’s why God knows we would struggle with being faithful. After all, we can hardly be faithful to Him, how much more will we struggle in earthly relationships. We are with one person, but our attention is elsewhere and our approach can be skewed by various influences that say much about pleasing yourself, but little about the character and qualities needed to persevere in being faithful to the other person.

Thank God that He hasn’t left us alone to muddle our way through and accept a litany of broken relationships as the acceptable norm. Thank God that in His persistent and consistent expression of love to humanity, He provides pictures of faithfulness for us to see and follow. Thank God that He highlights just how wonderful a life of faithfulness is and how it surpasses the alternatives offered.

That gives the promise that whatever has happened in the past, today, by having faith in the faithful one we can learn how to cherish and practice faithfulness. In that us love for the other expressed for the long term.

In that way we too can leave a legacy of faithfulness for those who follow.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Greatest Commandment (8): Giving Honour Where It’s Due

It’s an honour to have parents.

Love is not about having warm feelings inside and feeling all gooey at the thought of the one we love. Love is as much a commitment of the will that will act and do so even when those feelings are absent.

It’s worth mentioning that, because in a world where shattered families are the norm, encouraging children to honour their parents can appear to be a tough call to make. How can you honour your Dad when he’s never been a good Dad at all, when he left your Mum not long after you were born? How can you honour your Mum after she spent years doing nothing but tell you that you would amount to nothing? Those are just some of the traumas that children have been subjected to that makes the notion of honouring parents appear a nonsense.

Here’s the heart of the suggestion to honour where honour is due. For all that they’ve done, right or wrong, honour is due to them for being the source of your existence. The whole thing of loving the God we don’t see by the people we can see starts at the best place by honouring those who are responsible for bringing us here.

It’s even more the case when we realise the role they really should be playing in pointing us to the Source of all existence. A real heavenly Father that cares and offers life to its fullest to those who would honour Him. Connecting with those truths on earth can help us to connect with the truths that are expressed from heaven.

Perhaps as we connect with that heavenly Father and see His love for us, the love that forgives, heals and restores, maybe for those broken connections between children and parent some of that can be experienced. Maybe in the light of that we can truly honour those who are really the first people in our lives we have the opportunity to love.

Acknowledging the reason for the honour takes us away from selfishness and self-centredness and looks to do something not always because our feelings go along with it, but because the heart of it is what is right.

That’s taking on an approach to honouring parents from the view of not having the best of relationships. For the others who have happier memories and stronger connections, the honour is not something to take for granted. It is something to cherish as a great foundation for all relationships that follow from that.

It’s an honour to have parents.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Greatest Commandment (7): Others As Yourself

It’s because we are selfish.

I recall hearing someone interpret the command to love others as you love yourself as an invitation to love yourself. I do not for one moment deny the very real problem that some have with self-esteem. People do so much to bring about real harm to themselves for a variety of reasons, it is truly a tragic reality for some.

However the gist of this aspect of the great commandment is not an invitation to love yourself first. It is not an invitation to love yourself at all. In fact the challenge in this commandment is to love others as you love yourself. For on the whole, in the main, most people have no problems loving themselves. The self is the centre of the universe. The self is the focal point of all that really matters. Eating is important to keep the self going. Drinking is important to keep the self going. So self-absorbed and self-centred is life on the whole that it takes a command from the God who made us as relational beings for us to apply the same devotion to the self to others.

It’s in place because we are selfish.

It’s certainly not a call for self-neglect – it’s a call for seeing others just as important as ourselves and if we have that regard then we’re less likely to be so self-absorbed. Check it. In a conversation you see between two apparent friends. Person A starts the conversation sharing about the bad day they had. Person B goes on to say how bad a day they had. Person A reverts back to their bad day with an episode. This reminds Person B of an episode they had that was bad in the day. Two people apparently sharing, but really only looking to one-up the other with their own concerns.

Contrast that with an approach where Person B listens carefully about the bad day Person A had – immerses themselves in the day to truly understand how Person A felt and what Person A needs from this whole process. It could just be to get it off their chest. It could be to look for some consolation or some insight. Either way, Person B is not primarily concerned with their own issues – they want to show love to Person A by getting involved in that narrative. Then once that has been done or as a natural continuation of the conversation the roles can be reversed and it’s Person A’s opportunity to engage and immerse themselves in what’s been going on in the life of Person B.

Stephen Covey in his book on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People reframed an approach to this in his 5th Habit that suggested we should seek to understand before we are understood. You break that down and it expresses the command in a brilliant way. After all, when you are conveying something to someone else, your desire is that the other party understands. If you have that understanding, then to get the best from the relationship, you can actually offer first to genuinely understand where the other person is coming from. That connection to the other creates a bridge rather than leaves a chasm. Relational people know the power of a bridge.

The command, however, and one that shows that we love God with everything – is not just about understanding it is about extending ourselves to look after the others. Love for the other as you love yourself – it is simply put and it’s a challenge to put in practice. We’re not left on our own where that is concerned.

God’s brilliance is that He’s given us some steps to observe to help in loving the other and those steps are …

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

How Do You Mourn Well?

A few of us have been making our way through the Beatitudes. To go through any study at all, I am grateful I have some prayer support. What I enjoy about the prayer support is the one I get from one of my favourite people on the planet at the moment. I love this brother so much and he has a superb way of just bringing godly calm and peace to any situation.

So, I explained the plan to him, and he duly prayed for God to be glorified in the study that followed. In our conversation I shared my desire that the study would help those going through it to see the role that mourning should play in the life of the believer. As it transpired, the next day my good friend suffered a loss in his family. It brought matters home to me about the issue of mourning.

It was significant as well considering the exploration the few of us made in the issue of mourning. I love it when people question the Bible – not in an accusatory fashion, in a genuine wondering why fashion. We looked at the people of Israel’s response to the death of Moses and how the record stated that the people mourned his passing for 30 days. Someone wondered, “Why did they spend that much tie mourning over him? Surely not all of the people mourned for that long. I mean I can imagine a lot did for a while, but all the people, for that length of time? Why?”

Exploring issues like that got us to appreciate why mourning individually and corporately is important. It was also cool to address how Christians mourn too, because there was reference made to what Paul of Tarsus suggested that believers should mourn differently to others. That didn’t mean that there shouldn’t be mourning, though, because when Stephen died there was mourning by godly men for a godly man.

All those issues came together in a big challenge to me again about what it is to mourn well. It feels as if in this day and age nothing is really given to help with mourning should look like. I am not by any means suggesting there is a one suit fits all approach to to mourning, but there is something that surely we can learn from history and from others as to what it is to really mourn.

So how do you mourn well?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Words to Build

There was this prayer meeting I took part in and one of the thoughts that emerged from it was how important it was to use our words to build others. We were reminded of what Paul said to the church in Ephesus about communication.

The verse has been used by some to condemn swearing. I can see where they’re coming from, but it is a lot more than just prohibiting curse words. It’s an active invitation to consider what we’re using our words for. It’s tragic to hear some use their words in an attempt to bring down others, either in anger, in malice or in gossip. No swear words are used at all and sometimes some very pious and religious terms are used in conversations that appear well meaning but are just a front for the sort of corrupting communication Paul writes about.

It is my honour to be around people who bring out the blessings in the other part of Paul’s instruction. They stir me to practice using my words to build. They challenge me on this because there is a need. A need for the constructive. As they face new challenges – they need the constructive. As they face current challenges – they need the constructive. As they go through seasons of uncertainty – they need the constructive.

They need it and the same God who speaks the constructive in us, can use us to speak the constructive in others. It’s not about being cheerleaders all the time, the constructive isn’t about flattery or being charming. It’s about being substantial in encouraging the same to those who need it. There’s so much of it we can do if we remain focused on dwelling and meditating on the true, noble, right, pure, excellent, admirable and praiseworthy – something Paul encouraged the church in Philippi to practice.

I am a beneficiary of those who speak constructively on my life and certainly know it’s well worth pursuing in practice.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden