Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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December 18 – Balance In Relationships

“Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.”  Proverbs 25:17

Devotional Thought For The Day

There are lots of similar pieces of advice, and we have perhaps gone too far in the direction of privacy and isolation. A polite way of stating this wisdom would be “familiarity breeds contempt.”  We’re a bit more blunt when we exclaim:  “Get a life.”  With telephone solicitation and television advertising, there are many “feet” that far too frequently intrude into our privacy.  The doorbell ringing unexpectedly causes an immediate onset of irritation – “Who’s bothering us now?”  These sentiments – and the assumption that others are much like me – lead me to great reluctance to bother anyone else, whether by phone or by personal visit.  I suspect I am not alone in this kind of thinking and feeling.  Email is a bit less intrusive – deleting without reading is relatively effortless.  However, we’ve taken a step backwards in this with cell phones.

There are two important elements in all of this.  First, we are all individuals and like some private time, some things left just to ourselves.  By default, this is often just the case – we are alone and there is no one else within us, in our minds, present always, to share every thought and experience with [except the Lord].  However, life lived in isolation is a terrible thing, devoid of love and fellowship and the joy of sharing.  As much as we think of ourselves as being “important,” and we certainly are to ourselves [duh!], we want to share that importance with others, and to have it affirmed by others.  This is also an aspect of love – wanting to share our own blessedness, gifts, and strength with others.  However, this is a two way street – and the sharing has to be mutual, giving and receiving, and the balance is often hard to arrive at or maintain.  Our tendency is to distort and to be either too overbearing in foisting ourselves upon others, or to isolate ourselves, not caring about the importance of others and unwilling to share ourselves with others.  Ah, the difficulties of our fallen sinful nature!

The relationship where these difficulties is most intense is that relationship which God has made our closest and most intimate, where He joins two people together and makes them one, one flesh.  Here we have high expectations for satisfaction of these most basic aspects of human being – that our individuality be respected, that our importance be affirmed, that another be receptive to and appreciative of who we are, that we be able to give of ourselves and our experiences to another, and that another give to us and bless us out of who they are and what they have received.  But “familiarity breeds contempt,” and “too much of a good things ruins it.”  Our inability to find and maintain balance in this repels us and pushes us to isolationism, and the disappointment and pain in this intensifies the dissolution of the relationship.  This also happens with friendships, and it is disappointing, but no relationship has the intensity of marriage.  So we must be aware, and if we are amiable and truly loving, we may be able to approximate the optimal balance and appreciate and cherish this blessed gift from God.

I suppose that some may think that God “steps foot” into our lives in much too intrusive a way.  Only one who is ill-informed regarding God’s love for us could think this way.  God considers us more important than we consider ourselves – He even numbers all the hairs on our head.  God controls more that concerns our good and welfare than we can ever imagine – our days, our very life, is all in His hands, and He “delivers us from all danger, guards and protects us from all evil.”  He is working all things together for our good and blessedness. He has provided us with salvation and eternal life in His glorious new heavens and earth, and promised us the ultimate good – all because of His great love for us. All that we find “wanting” and imperfect in our relationships with others, is absent in our relationship with God – He is pure love.  He even grants us freedom and autonomy in a myriad of aspects of our life and being, only restricting us and guiding us in those things which pertain to good and blessedness, our own and that of others around us.  Those who understand God and are trained in relationship by Him are far more sensitive to what makes for good relationships with other people, especially one’s spouse.

It’s a difficult balance – between presence and privacy.  Hopefully, just as in our relationship with God, there is an abundance of forgiveness, compassion, freedom, understanding, and acceptance.  With these we can avoid “hate,” the kind that comes from too much familiarity, and the kind expressed by isolation.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for always being with us, always there for us.  Forbid that we should ever resent Your love for us or desire greater freedom and independence from You.  Bless us also in our relationships with others – to find the right balance of being supportive, protective, nurturing, and strengthening to others. Bless us with people around us who provide the same blessings for us. Keep us from the sinful temptation to isolationism.  We especially pray for these blessings within our marriage, Your great gift to us.  Amen.