Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Jesus said to him,“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang the whole law and the prophets.”
Jesus, in Matthew 22:37-40
Every commandment that God ever gave to His people was designed for one purpose; that is, to guide them into a right relationship, either with Him or with other people. You can search from Genesis to Revelation and you will never find a commandment from God that was not directed toward one of these two goals.
Life in the kingdom of God is not a solitary affair. The word righteousness describes life that is in a right relationship with God and with our neighbors; it does not describe the quality of a soul without regard to others. There is no righteousness where there are no right relationships.
The law that God gave Moses contained a multitude of commandments concerning how to express one’s love for God and for others. When God said, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image”, He was revealing to the Israelites how to have a right relationship with Him. When He said to them, “Thou shalt not kill”, and “Thou shalt not steal”, He was revealing to them how to have a right relationship with one another. It is all about relationships. There is no such thing as being holy alone, unless you are God. But even God has chosen not to be holy alone.
In both the Old and the New Testament, we are given instruction concerning relationships with people who occupy specific places in our lives, such as husband, wife, parent, child, and even spiritual places, such as prophet, pastor, and teacher. There is a way to have a right relationship with each person who occupies each place in our lives. The Bible is full of instructions intended to guide us into a right relationship with others, based on (1) their place in our lives and (2) their spiritual condition. But the places that can be occupied in our lives are so many, and the spiritual conditions of the people in those places can vary so widely, that the Bible cannot tell us how to have a right relationship in every circumstance with every person. That is why Jesus suffered and died for us to have the holy Ghost; it guides us into “all truth”; that is, it guides us into a right relationship with every person, in every circumstance, every day of our lives. The Bible can never do that.
Paul said, “Encourage the faint-hearted.” And he said, “Warn the disorderly.” And he also said, “Let elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in word and in doctrine.” Now, if someone comforts the unruly instead of warning them, and warns the elders that do well instead of honoring them, and gives double honor to the feeble-minded, that man doesn’t have a right relationship with the people involved. The holy Ghost must reveal to us who is “unruly”, and who is “feeble-minded”, and who qualifies as “an elder that rules well”, etc. Then, when by the holy Ghost we discern who is who in the body of Christ, we can at last develop a right relationship with them.
Once you see the magnitude of this truth, you will want to strive to have a right relationship with everyone in your world. You will even want to make sure that you have a right relationship with the Devil. God has a right relationship with the Devil, and we can, too. God cast him out of heaven, and Paul told us to be like God and “make no room for the Devil.” Sometimes, a right relationship is no relationship at all. Several times Paul mentions that a certain body of believers should cast out a member of the body because of stubbornness and rebellion. Jesus even mentioned cutting off precious members of the body so that the whole body could be saved.
There is no such thing as a man having a right relationship with God but a poor relationship with God’s obedient people. Jesus said, “As often as you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me.” John said, “He who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” I recently spoke with a man who thought that his relationship with God was fine, even though his relationship with the body of Christ is almost non-existent. He is like many who have a higher opinion of himself than Jesus has of him. Jesus loves those who love his people and who express that love in a way that helps them develop right relationships.
All right relationships in the kingdom of God are a triangle. That triangle includes you, another person, and God – with God in the middle. No one has a right relationship with anybody without God being in the middle. My father taught us that God was so jealous over his people that He even wanted to sleep between a man and his wife, and that if He did not, then there was bound to be trouble between them. Pursue every relationship you have on this earth through God. Do not be closer to anyone than that person is to God. Do not trust anyone more than that person trusts God, and do not follow any person unless that person is following God. Even the great apostle Paul said, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”
Only those who are led by the Spirit of God have a right relationship with anybody. That is why Paul said that only those who are led by the Spirit of God are the real children of God (Rom. 8:14). Thank God for helping us to discern who is who in our lives, so that we can develop relationships that are right in His sight, for if there is a single relationship in our life that is not right, we ourselves are not yet completely right with God.