New Year: A Fresh Start

Day 5 of 5 • This day’s reading

Devotional

Living with New Relationships

One of the most basic realities of life is that we are made to have relationships with others. From the very beginning, when God said, "It is not good for man to be alone," the profound significance of human relationships has been evident. God's Word describes Christian believers as "The Body of Christ." He says that we are connected to one another and dependent on each other. We were made to be in a community and function best when our relationships are harmonious. Because relationships are so fundamental to our existence, the quality of that relationship will have a tremendous impact on the quality of our lives.

If our relationships are good, our lives are good, regardless of the difficulties of the circumstances we may be in at any given time. This is the power and significance of good relationships in our lives.

Sadly, this is an area of life where we often struggle. Most of us have broken relationships in our lives. These cause us pain, and the emotions related to these relationships affect every aspect of our lives. It is hard to enjoy even the best things if our relationships with people are broken. Efforts to "fix" our broken relationships end up on our New Year's Resolutions lists, year after year after year.

Our relationships can be different. We have the real possibility of new relationships because, through Christ, we have a new heart. In Jesus, we have a new life, new attitude, and new access to the One who can help us in our relationships. We are called to live in love with one another, and God always gives us the grace and strength to do what He has called us to do.

Jesus said the Greatest Commandment was to "love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength." He then followed by saying there was a second commandment like the first: "We should love our neighbor as ourselves." Jesus connected these two aspects of relationships; loving God with all we are and loving others with a love that places them and their needs equal with our own. This connection is crucial because the second is only possible through the first.

As Christians who love God with all we are, we are in a position to live in the love and acceptance we have received from God. The Bible says, "We love, because He first loved us." We can love others in ways that we could never do apart from Christ.

Jesus told His disciples that He was giving them a new commandment that they should "Love one another even as I have loved you." Because we have experienced such radical, unconditional love from God, we have a reservoir of love to direct toward others. We can offer love to those hard to love, even if they are our enemies, or unlovable.

It is not in our natural abilities, but in Christ, we can offer the love we have received. This will transform our relationships, even if the other person is resistant to the love we show. When we forgive, love, and are at peace, our relationships with others are transformed, regardless of their response. This offer of love is the best hope of reconciliation. Still, whether that happens or not, we will experience life-giving freedom.

Make this year the best year ever. A year in which you walk in love by offering others the unconditional love you have received from Jesus!

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