I read a headline a while back that said “18 year old girl can face manslaughter charge for allegedly encouraging boyfriend’s suicide, judge rules.”
Newsflash: If someone is encouraging you to hurt yourself, IT IS NOT A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP!!!
While I know it is an extreme example, this story illustrates a truth that so many of us experience in our own lives on different levels. I’m talking about allowing voices to influence us that are not speaking truth in love or pointing us to God’s best for our lives. All of us have influences in our lives that give us messages based on lies. While these lies may not lead to our physical death, they may be calling us down paths that lead to pain, regret, and a cheap imitation of God’s best.
A principle we want all students to know is this: Your life will be significantly shaped by your relationships. That’s why I say, “Handle them with care!”
Scripture tells us,
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17
We all give and receive influence daily. Although we don’t have control over every source of influence in our lives (billboards, etc), we do have control over some of the most significant sources of influence… relationships. (When I say relationships, I mean ALL relationships, friendships, etc.)
Author Max Lucado says this, “Life comes with voices. Voices lead to choices. Choices have consequences.”
How can we evaluate the voices in our lives, and the influence of relationships?
I think there are 3 Key Questions we should ask to evaluate a relationship:
1) Conditional or unconditional?
Is the love experienced in your relationship conditional or unconditional? Ask, “Is this person helping me or using me?”
1 Corinthians 13 describes what love looks like and what love does,
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not
dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
So many relationships are based on “I love you if…” If someone tells you that, it is not unconditional love. According to 1 Corinthians 13, this self-seeking attitude is not love at all.
2) Truth or lie?
Is the relationship based on truth or a lie? How open and honest are you with each other? Do you pretend to be someone you are not just to get the approval of this person?
Authentic, healthy relationships give truth as well as receive truth…even when it hurts.
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. – Proverbs 27:6
Think about that. It is better to have a loving friend hurt your feelings with the truth, than have someone “kiss up” with what you want to hear. If you have a friend that loves you enough to be honest with you even when it hurts, you need to cherish and invest in that friendship!
So many relationships are based on lies, and the absence of absolute truth. Don’t be fooled.
3) Best or Imitation?
Does this relationship point me towards God’s best for my life, or a cheap imitation of God’s best?
- Is this person experiencing God’s best for their own life?
And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. – 1 Corinthians 11:1
If someone is not living God’s best for their own life, why let them influence yours?
- Does this person truly want God’s best for me?
So many relationships point us towards a cheap imitation of God’s best for our lives. Such imitations can never satisfy. Don’t settle for less, when God wants to give you more.
Remember, your life is significantly shaped by your relationships. Understand them and handle with care!
Your life is significantly shaped by your relationships. Understand them and handle with care!
This devotional is one in Sugar Hill Church’s First 30 devotional series for college students.
To access the podcasts of this devotional and the entire series, click here.
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