When it comes to creating an atmosphere in your life that invites God’s presence and facilitates His purpose for you, relationships are absolutely essential. The people around you should add to your life and multiply the good things God has put in you, not subtract from your life and divide your attention from destiny.
In order to properly audit your relationships, you must ask yourself:
1. Am I hanging out with people who invite me to sin? Psalm 1:1 says, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.” Standing around with sinners here clearly does not mean sharing the gospel message with them, but rather, hanging out with them such that they influence you to sin. Something I learnt as a corps member 10 years ago is that sin has consequences even though we are forgiven. It’s for your own good that God wants you to avoid sin. Even though it sometimes looks as easy as “sin, then receive forgiveness” because of grace, and you think you’re getting away with it, something always dies in the presence of sin. If you sow to the flesh, you will reap corruption from it. We ought to show love to everyone, but it’s not everyone we should fellowship with. Be discerning and sensitive to the voice of God.
2. Am I keeping fellowship with people who refuse spiritual authority? In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus tells us what to do when someone who says he’s a Christian refuses to be accountable. We should have no relationship with people who reject authority. Want to minister to them? Then minister to them by not associating with them until they come under spiritual authority. Christianity is not for lone wolves who do whatever they want. God places leaders over us and wants us to submit to them so that they can do the work He has given them with joy. Why? He will require them to give account. Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”
3. Am I clinging to people God has told me to leave behind? If you spend time looking back, you may miss what lies ahead. When God frees you from unhealthy relationships, it is to usher you into new ones that will top the old. Just as Abraham had to separate from Lot (Genesis 13:8-9) so also we must separate from people whose presence hinders God’s work in our lives. Hanging on to those old associations only leads to headache and heartache. I can tell you for free that this is hard. It’s hard to let go, hard not to harbour their memories in your soul, hard to reprogramme your mind. The loneliness will be felt for a while, sometimes for a long time, but God is wise and loving, and He wants the best for us. Times of refreshing will come.
4. Am I pouring out of an empty cup? Ever minister needs ministry. You can’t give what you don’t have. As you have people into whose lives you pour, you should also have those who pour into your life. No relationship audit is complete without checking that you have a balance between the withdrawals and deposits in your life. If you don’t have enough people depositing God’s goodness into you, the withdrawals will soon have your account in the red, and you won’t flourish or fulfil purpose. Balance is key.
Is it time for some calculations and pruning? There’s grace enough for you.