What makes us most happy in life? It is not more money, success, or achievements. No. It is relationships. Happiness was made to be shared. God never intended us to live life alone. We all long to belong because God made us that way. Healthy relationships make us happy and unhealthy relationships can make us miserable. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Bible is a book about relationships.
Mark and Barnabas were cousins. In Acts 23 it was Paul’s nephew who warned him of the plot to kill him. In the Gospels we learn that many of the disciples were family. The story of the Old Testament is about a man named Abraham, his son Isaac, and grandson Jacob, and his descendants. The story of the Exodus is about Moses and his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam. You get the picture. God created you in His image, and put you in a family. You may have been raised by a single parent, grandparents, step-parents, or in a blended family. God puts us in families and relationships that start at home. Your early relationships affect all your other relationships in life. There are no perfect families, despite what we see on social media. Respect is the core of family relationships. Your relationships can only be as healthy as you are, and no other relationship shapes who you are more than family. What you think, feel, say, and do has to do with the home you grew up in. Family is where we learn to trust or distrust. It is where we learn to be quiet or speak up. Where we learn to hide our emotions or share our feelings. What role did you play in your family growing up? We are all homeschooled whether we know it or not. The home is the university of relationships.
Over 10 names are mentioned in Colossians 4, and it follows the pattern we see at the end of Paul’s letters. At the end of the book of Romans, Paul mentions more than 30 names! Paul traveled with friends; he stayed with friends; he visited friend; worked alongside friends; preached alongside friends; he was beaten alongside friends. He sang in prison with his friends. He encouraged his friends and was encouraged by his friends. There were times he disagreed with his friends and times he was reconciled with his friends. Mark is an example. God said it is not good to be alone. Studies show that friends help to ward off depression, boost our immune system, lower cholesterol, increase the odds of surviving a heart attack and extend your life expectancy. We have friends for a reason (something in common), friends for a season (a chapter of life), and friends of treason (they betray or fail you). Friendships that are there for one season and not the next are not failed friendships. Thank God for the joy they brought you on the journey during that time. Remember the best and forget the rest. You know the old saying, “You don’t get to choose your family, but you do get to choose your friends.” Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Show me your friends and I will show you your future! Friends are like buttons on an elevator. They either take you up or they take you down! A real friend walks in when everyone else walks out. You only have so much time and energy to give. It is one thing to start a friendship it is another to maintain it. It is so easy to take friends for granted. Good friends keep their word. They keep their promises. They don’t abandon you. Friends disappoint you and you disappoint your friends. The friends we keep the longest are the friends we keep forgiving.
You were not born knowing God, but He knew you. He knew you when you were in your mother’s womb (Jer. 1:5, Ps. 139:14). The ultimate goal in life is a loving relationship with the one who created you. The most important relationship you will have in life is your relationship with God. Your relationship with God will affect all of your other relationships. Life begins and ends with God. The greatest need of the children born into our families is to be born again into God’s family. Relationships can be complicated! We have to remember that our significance is found in God. He loves you like you are the only one on earth. If God had a refrigerator your picture would be on it! Through Him we can be the friend, spouse, parent, or employee He’s called us to be. Through Him we can forgive when we’ve been wronged. Through Him we can heal from past hurts. And ultimately, through Him, we have a relationship that will last forever!