Jonathan's Perspective  

Oct 19

Growing Great Relationships Requires Character

Growing Great Relationships Requires Character

The Apostle Paul wrote to the community of believers in Colossi to encourage them to develop real relationships that are strong and life-giving.  Paul still challenges us today to 'Clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.'(Col 3:12)  This may seem odd for Paul, who we often think of as a hard hitting, to-the-point, and uncompromising kind of guy.  We might expect him to call forth great courage, determination, or intellectual soundness, not these 'soft' qualities.  But living into these qualities is anything from easy.  Taking on these profoundly relational characteristics takes God at work in our lives, chipping away the rough edges, and shaping our inner being.  These characteristics are the great Christian virtues over which we put love, which binds them all together.  Let's take a quick look at these virtues which make relationships strong and enjoyable.

Compassion is to feel someone's suffering, then to act to relieve it.  'Do not withhold good to those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow' - when you now have it with you.''(Prov 3:27)  We expect people to be compassionate toward us when we are stressed or feeling overwhelmed.  We need to lead a helping hand to those who are in such need.

Kindness is seen when we do the little extra things for one another.  A little note, an expression of appreciation, or a surprise gift shows your loved ones that you are paying attention to them.  To be noticed and delighted are incredible gifts to give to someone.  It reminds them that they are not alone, and that what they offer in this life is good and makes a difference.

Humility allows you to listen to and value the other's opinion.  I once read that Customer Service is not a department, it is about people who can be helped.   People at work want undivided attention, to receive personalized solutions to their problems, and to be respected.  Humility helps us value others so we can treat them like a dear friend whose wellbeing matters.

Gentleness is felt through active listening.  Active listening is the art of seeking to understand the other person by listening, watching, and inquiring.  So much of the time we are thinking about what we want to say next, that we don't pay attention to what someone is saying.  A gentle person puts the other person first, seeking to understand instead of pushing to be understood.

Patience, in some ways, is the hardest of the Christian virtues.  Patience directly deals with our self-absorbed, self-centered mindset.  Patience calls us to sacrifice my agenda for another person - to be truly present with the other person.  When we are with another person we need to give them our undivided attention.  No one is more important than the person you're with.  Paul calls us to put our agendas on the backburner of our minds, and to not allow cell phones and other electronics to pull us away.

Living out the Christian virtues found in Colossians 3:12 is not for wimps!  In fact, the only hope we have for such a transformation of our lives is Jesus.  I guess that is why Paul ends with this invitation:  'Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly... And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus...' Col 3:15-17

Seeking to Serve,


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