by Gloria Copeland
This time of year can bring wonderful reunions with loved ones. One of the things I cherish most about Christmas is getting to spend time with friends and family members I haven’t seen much throughout the year. If you’re like me, you’re probably looking forward to reconnecting with certain people and catching up on life’s events.
Well, maybe you’re not actually looking forward to having parents, in-laws, siblings, aunts and uncles in close quarters because it is not always a positive experience. Or maybe the thought of that Christmas office party where you’ll be expected to mix and mingle with some co-workers you don’t necessarily see eye to eye with is upsetting.
If that’s the way you feel, you’re not alone. Whether at home or at the office, strained relationships can undoubtedly put a damper on a celebration meant to bring great joy.
How It Is Meant to Be
Think of what your Christmas party or gathering would be like if you had great relationships with everyone there! Imagine—if there were no family disagreements, and no misunderstandings with friends or co-workers.
Well, I am here to tell you that it is certainly not impossible. In fact, this should be every believer’s reality, and God wants to help you make it yours.
But before He can help you, there’s one thing you have to get right first.
Get This Right First
The most important relationship you have is with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. If you don’t have this relationship right, it’s going to be difficult to get the others right.
The good news is that this relationship is the easiest of all relationships to get right because the Lord is waiting on you with unconditional love. You don’t have to convince Him you are worthy and you don’t have to argue about who was right or wrong from a previous disagreement.
So, how do you know if your relationship with the Lord is right? See how many of these statements you can answer yes to:
- I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
- I am seeking to know the Lord by studying His Word and praying every day.
- I am putting into practice what I learn from reading and prayer.
- I look to the Lord for His guidance and protection in every area of my life.
When you’ve got this kind of intimate relationship with the Lord, you will be in a position to let Him help you develop, repair and nurture your relationships with family, friends and co-workers. Next, let’s talk about three keys that will help you improve your relationships.
3 Keys to Improving Your Relationships
Once you’ve got your relationship with the Lord right, three more principles from God’s Word will help you improve every relationship you have.
1. Forget Your Naughty List
Do you have a naughty list? I am not talking about a physical list of things you’ve done wrong. What I’m talking about is a list of people who have done you wrong.
You probably silently carry this list around in your heart every day, and when someone’s name on your list comes up, you immediately associate them with how they’ve hurt you.
Just the thought of having to face them at Christmas or any other time could range from unpleasant to absolutely horrifying. If you find yourself in this position, the next thing you need to do is to forget your naughty list.
How? By forgiving them.
You may be wondering…How on earth do I do that, Gloria? You have no idea what these people are like and what they’ve done to me.
No, I don’t. And frankly, it doesn’t matter.
The Lord commands us to forgive those who’ve wronged us and to pray for our enemies (Matthew 6:15, 5:44). To forgive them is not to condone their actions, but to release you from bondage. It sets you free, and it keeps you in line with God’s Word.
It’s so simple, and so easy to say: “I obey! I forgive!”
Now, every time negative thoughts of that person cross your mind, say it again: “I obey! I forgive!”
Don’t let that mental conversation play over and over in your mind about what that person did. When you catch yourself doing that, stop IMMEDIATELY, and say, “I obey! I forgive!”
2. Love Others Like God Loves Them
In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam just one “do not.” It was, Don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God only gave one command, but it certainly covered a lot of territory.
Today, if you think about it, you and I still only have one “do not”—Don’t get out of love. That’s our one commandment. We are to walk in love, which covers a lot of ground. In fact, we see in this passage that our love walk is connected to everything we do in life as believers, including our faith. Faith—without love—is going nowhere.
God wants us to walk in love because love never fails. He wants the best for us, and since the best is found in love, you and I must walk in love in order to receive God’s best.
You can choose to love those who irritate you and act ugly toward you. Don’t sit around waiting for a warm, fuzzy feeling—just pray for them. Ask God to help you see that person the way He does.
3. Pray Over Your Relationships
Prayer is a powerful force and can change your relationships. God promises that the prayer from the heart of a man (or woman) who is right with God has much power (James 5:16, NLV). Speak promises from the Word of God and declare that each relationship is blessed.
Ask God for His wisdom to know what to do in each relationship. Listen for His instruction, and then be obedient.
Have a Merry Christmas
God desires that all of your relationships are blessed. Put these three principles into practice as you prepare to celebrate Christmas with your family, friends and co-workers. Don’t settle for the idea that certain relationships have to be uncomfortable. Pray and expect God to do great things this Christmas!
Dare to Shine His Light on Your Relationships!
- Make a list of everyone who has wronged you. Bring that list before God and forgive them. Then, tear that list up as a symbol of your commitment to forgive everyone on it.
- Determine to love everyone with God’s love, even those who have wronged you.
- If you have a relationship that continues to challenge and frustrate you, then you may need a second opinion or someone to stand with you (Proverbs 11:14). Talk to your pastor, a trusted mentor or a friend. You can even call KCM’s 24-hour Prayer Line at 1-817-852-6000 for prayer.
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