Do You Really Want To Improve Your Relationships This Year?
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
— 2 Timothy 2:2
The holiday season is a time when family and friends gather to celebrate — but it is also a time when some experience profound loneliness, heaviness, depression, and feelings of isolation. This is especially true if a loved one has died or if a person has suffered the loss of a relationship in the previous year. You may have experienced some of these emotions yourself this past holiday season.
If people have deficiencies in their relationships, the holiday season has a way of bringing them face to face with that deficit. Frequently that deficit becomes visible because they are with family and friends with whom they have had past personality conflicts, struggles, or disagreements. As a result, holidays can be times when old wounds are reopened, and emotions that a person thought were dealt with and dead start screaming again. Personalities collide. Feelings are hurt. People get rubbed the wrong way. Regretful words are spoken. And what should have been a wonderful time together degenerates into another hurtful event.
It is a statistical fact that the holiday season is among the most emotionally charged times of the year. This
is one reason why we who are mature in the Lord must be a source of peace in potentially difficult situations, and we must keep a watchful eye on those who struggle with personal loss and loneliness. We also need to stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who frequently uses this time of year to confront us with the status of our relationships — and awaken us to our need to improve them.
So let me ask you — as you gathered with family and friends over the holidays, did the Holy Spirit make you aware of relationships that needed your attention and improvement? Did you experience loneliness or become conscious of your need to reach out to make new friends in order to fill a void in your life? Do you presently feel satisfied with the condition of your relationships, or are you aware of your need to put forth extra effort in order to take them to a higher level?
Relationships are like savings accounts; you have to put something into them if you expect to get something out of them. If all you do is take, eventually you will drain that relationship, like a bank account that gets drained and has nothing left in it. For your relationships to remain healthy and vibrant, you need to make many deposits into them. As you invest in the people in your life, they will grow. But if you put nothing into a relationship and keep expecting to take from that other person, you will eventually come to a point where that relationship will be drained and nothing will be left for you to draw upon. That’s when you’ll regret that you didn’t make better choices and invest more into that relationship to make it the long-lasting blessing God intended it to be in both your lives.
But you don’t have to live with that kind of regret. If you’ll make the proper investments into your relationships today, it will pay off tomorrow. Even if you’ve made mistakes in past relationships and you are facing the consequences of that now, there is no need to despair. The Holy Spirit is present to restore your soul and help you start making right investments into the people God has brought into your life. You can enjoy healthy, fulfilling relationships to the very end of your life. It’s never too late to start!
When Timothy was presiding as senior pastor of the church of Ephesus, he came face to face with a deficit in his own relationships. Those leaders he thought were his friends — those he assumed would be with him to the end — were the very ones who walked out and deserted him during the worst moments of persecution he and his church had ever faced. Timothy thought he would be able to lean on these coworkers in the Kingdom during difficult and challenging times, yet they abandoned him in his hour of need.
I can’t even begin to imagine the feelings of hurt, loneliness, and isolation Timothy must have felt at that time. He was, in fact, so hurt by this experience that he wrote to the apostle Paul and asked for spiritual help. Paul wrote back to the younger minister, and the letter Paul wrote to him became the book of Second Timothy in the New Testament.
In Second Timothy 2:2, Paul wrote to his young disciple and told him, “…The things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” The word “commit” in this verse is a powerful key to building strong and lasting relationships. It is the Greek word parathou, which is a compound of the words, para and thou, the latter being a form of the word tithemi. The word para means alongside and carries the idea of a close relationship. This word para emphatically pictures two or more people who stand side by side or are mentally, spiritually, or physically in close proximity to each other. The word thou, a form of the Greek word tithemi, means to place, to put, or to deposit. When the words para and tithemi are compounded into one word, the new word is parathou, which means to come closely alongside someone else in order to put, place, or deposit a part of oneself into that person.
Paul was telling Timothy that he couldn’t afford to sit in despair and loneliness over the loss and disappointment of close relationships. It was time for Timothy to start all over again and “commit” himself to a new group of people and friends. As difficult as it was for Timothy to do this, he had to push beyond his hurt, reach out to strengthen the relationships that remained, and choose new people to draw close to and build a future with. It wasn’t time for him to “tuck his tail and run.” It was time for him to parathou — to come closely alongside others in order to put, place, or deposit a part of himself into them.
So Paul instructed Timothy to commit himself to “faithful men.” Although it isn’t stated emphatically, it is implied that the group who disappointed Timothy were not faithful people. Perhaps they were talented, bright, and full of potential, but they lacked the most important quality in relationships: faithfulness. As Timothy got ready to start all over again, Paul counseled him, “This time, make sure you invest yourself into people who are faithful.” The good news was that all the unfaithful people were gone already. Only faithful people remained, making it easier for Timothy to select people he could depend on even in difficult times of challenge and pressure.
The same may be true in your life. If you have felt forsaken, abandoned, or disappointed by certain people you thought were trustworthy, at least you now know who is faithful, for they are the ones who are still standing alongside you. They may not shine as brilliantly as the others who have disappeared from your life, but at least you can easily identify the people who will stick with you through difficult times. Those who have faithfully stayed with you through all your difficulties are exactly the kind of people who are worthy of your personal investment into them.
You may be at a similar crossroads moment to Timothy’s. It may be time for you to shake off a spirit of despair that has tried to attach itself to you. If that describes your situation, you can decide today to stop wallowing in discouragement concerning things that are in the past and are unfixable. If you made a mistake, learn from it and let the Holy Spirit lead you into the wonderful life that lies directly ahead of you. As you reach out to build new and better relationships, any feelings of loneliness, heaviness, or depression will go.
This week, if you have become aware of a relationship that needs attention or if you have come face to face with mistakes you have made in past relationships, determine to learn from the experience and then get over it as quickly as possible so you can move forward in life. As you allow the Holy Spirit to help you, He will show you how to make solid investments into your new relationships. He’ll also guide you in making fresh deposits into the lives of those who have been close to you for many years.
So I encourage you to let this be your commitment: “I will do all I know to do to keep the relationships God has brought into my life healthy and long-lasting — starting today!”
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I realize that I’ve made some mistakes in my relationships in the past. I know I got too busy at times and quit making deposits into the people I loved and needed. I expected them to perform for me, but I didn’t put enough good back into them, and now I’m experiencing the consequences both of my actions and my inaction. Please forgive me for not showing appreciation to the people who are so precious to me. I repent for misplacing my priorities. I ask You to please help me restore the relationships that are restorable and to strengthen the relationships that remain in my life right now. Help me make solid investments into the people who are close to me so I can be a real blessing to them and so these relationships will stay strong and close till the very end of my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
Today I shake off the spirit of despair that has tried to attach itself to me. I refuse to wallow in discouragement about things that are over and unfixable. I have repented and received forgiveness for my mistakes, so I will learn from them and let the Holy Spirit lead me into the wonderful future that lies directly ahead of me. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are lying emotions that must go in Jesus’ name! The Lord surrounds me with people who stick with me through times of difficulty. These faithful people are worthy of my time, attention, and personal invest- ments. Therefore, I forget the past and its pain, and by faith in God I allow myself to build new relationships and to trust again.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- How has your first week of the new year been so far? As you gathered with family and friends, has the Holy Spirit made you aware of relationships that need your attention and improvement?
- Have you experienced loneliness and become conscious of your need to reach out to and make new friends to fill the void that currently exists in your life? Have you felt satisfied with the condition of your relationships, or are you aware of your need to put forth extra effort in order to take your relationships to a higher level?
- What do you need to do to make your relationships stronger? What is the Holy Spirit saying to your heart about the deposits you need to make into your present and even your future relationships so that those relationships will remain vibrant and long-lasting