How are you doing with your interpersonal relationships? If you are married, the relationship you have with your spouse is a great place to start the evaluation. Then consider how you relate to your children, parents and siblings and what about your co-workers?
When relationships are difficult, we usually blame the other person. We find that we are fretfully engaged in a continual thought loop" "If only he would stop doing this," or "Why does she always have to say that?"
Jesus shows us that blaming others for difficult relationships is not only offensive to God, but also harmful to our horizontal relationships. We want healthier relationships, but we are finding it more than challenging to have them.
In Mark 12:28-30, the religious leaders asked Jesus this: "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
Jesus replied, "The one that says 'Hear O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only God, and you must love Him with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.' The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There are no other commands greater than these."
Jesus' response to the religious leaders was not delayed, but instantaneous, without a second thought.
Jesus is one with God, the Father, and has always been. Even before His birth, He existed in Spirit. Jesus knew the heart of the Father and expressed it freely.
"Love your neighbor as yourself" was not even included on the tablets of stone. But Jesus placed this commandment second only to loving God, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Who are your neighbors? Everyone. How can I possibly care about the needs of others as much as I care about my own needs and concerns? Jesus answers this question and others, but many of His answers are contrary to our nature and beyond our human reasoning.
Jesus talks about anger and gives us some valuable insights in Matthew 5:22a. He says this; "But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment."
Jesus goes on to explain that we cannot bring an offering to Him if we have a conflict with others. Matthew 5:23-24 explains, "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."
Forgiveness is vital if we are to live a healthy, joyful and successful life. Jesus shows that forgiveness of others is absolutely required if we are to be forgiven for our sins.
Matthew 6:14-15 informs us: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Forgiveness is included in the Lord's Prayer. Jesus said in Matthew 6:9-13, "This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts (sins against God and offenses against others) as we also have forgiven our debtors (those who have wronged us). Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' "
Jesus also addresses the issue of judging others. In John 7:24 He says, "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."
That really hits home, right? It's so easy to do for all of us.
The verses I have used are the very words of Jesus. Great men and women throughout history have spoken life-changing words, but the words of Jesus rise above all the words of others. Are the words of Jesus the greatest words ever spoken?
Author Steven K. Scott puts it this way: "To earn the ranking of the 'greatest words ever spoken,' the words would have to exert enough power to transform a hateful heart into a loving one, a mind driven by greed into one overflowing with generosity."
The words of Jesus explain why He gave His life for you and me.
In John 10:10b Jesus explains in his very own words: "I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly."
This abundant life is only found in the words of Jesus. Invite Jesus into your heart today, to be your savior and Lord. Then begin to apply the words of Jesus, the "greatest words ever spoken," to your interpersonal relationships.
David Goode is senior pastor at Heart of Worship Ministries, which meets on Sundays at 3 p.m. in the arts and crafts room at the Port St. Lucie Community Center, 2195 Airoso Blvd., across from city hall. Column reviewed by Nance Cox. Pastor Goode can be heard on WPSL Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. For more information, or prayer, call (772) 408-8218 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.