Healthy, Devoted Relationships

Don't Lord it Over

Now, let me turn that coin over so we can see the other side. As you move in the direction of caring passionately for others' spiritual lives, it's possible to approach it from the wrong angle. Taking authority over people's lives isn't what we're talking about. That's a totally erroneous approach to being responsible and passionate to see everyone presented perfect in Christ. Taking authority over others' lives is the gentiles' way. Of all people, Jesus didn't operate out of authoritarian control, and we certainly have no business doing it, either. It's imperative that we keep our heads straight on that point.

For instance, let's say that I really, really want to share something with a certain brother, because I've seen something in his life that seems disturbing. Now, if I'm in it for myself, I'm going to force him to hear me. But if I'm in it for him, I don't care where he hears it or whether he receives what I personally have to say. My ego has nothing to do with it. All I want to see is God glorified in the brother's life. Let's say that ten years ago I offended him in some way. Today, even though he's forgiven me totally, I've still lost enough credibility that he can't quite hear what I'm saying. Somehow there's a communication gap. In that case, he's under no obligation to submit to me and simply accept what I have to say about this matter in his life. He has no obligation whatsoever to submit to me personally. His obligation is to submit to the Word of God—to receive God's Word and move ahead in it. If somebody else helps him make those changes by bringing him a Word from heaven that he can hear and relate to and receive, then hallelujah! I have no problem with that outcome, because I don't need this brother to affirm me. What I need is for him to affirm Jesus.

Sometimes God will even purposefully block our ability to touch a certain person's life just to keep us humble. Thank Him for that. It's a blessing, because we're not in it for ourselves. We're in it to see God's will done in everyone's life. If I personally never say a word to a particular brother because for some reason it just doesn't click, that's okay. I need to be on my face for that man. If God has given me responsibility for him, but he can't hear what I'm saying, then I need to be praying and fasting—and otherwise staying out of it, if necessary. If it comes to that, I should get out of the way rather than clog up everything by being in the middle of it.

Now, Jesus gave us a means of dealing with things that are truly sin in someone's life. He didn't say that if I see a sin in a brother, I should go to him and bring it to him…and bring it to him… and bring it to him…and bring it to him. Instead, Jesus said that if I bring the matter to him and for some reason he can't receive it, then the next step is to bring in a few others. That's what Matthew 18 says: "If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church."

It doesn't say that God gave me responsibility for this person, so I need to harass him and badger him and lord it over him, whether it's by being mean to him and telling him what to do, or just by being an incessantly "clanging gong." God never intended our relationships to look that way. He's called me to bring the brother a word if I have to, according to 1 Corinthians 5 and Matthew 18. If he can't hear me, then Jesus said bring two or three others, because maybe one of those other brothers can make the matter clear in a way that I couldn't. If none of those guys can get through, maybe in bringing it to the church—the next step Jesus said to take—there can be clarity.

That's fine, because I'm not in it for me. I don't need to be affirmed. I don't need to be loved, and I don't need to be appreciated. I don't need to be respected. I don't even have to have this person's friendship for my sake. All I want is to see this brother presented perfect in Christ. And whatever it takes to do it is fine, whether it humbles me or brings a more closely knit relationship between us as a result, as it usually does. Whatever the case may be, my only plea before God is that somehow, some way, this person will be everything God wants him to be.

The point is not relationship for its own sake. The point is that God's Glory can be seen in every individual's life. In the process, God builds the relationships. "Unless the Lord builds" the relationship, "the builders labor in vain." We actually prevent the genuine connections from forming when we create an Ishmael by attempting to lock a relationship into place. It's vitally important that our relationships are never built on a desire to have friends or any sort of other selfish motivation. We just have to be passionate to see God's will done in others' lives.

Next Page
Back to Contents