Some people believe we cannot “invest” ourselves in every relationship that comes our way. The main reason given for this is the perceived problem of available time to spend in relationship with others.
I disagree! In fact, it is unbiblical to live this way, and in this article I’m going to show you why all relationships matter, there’s no getting out of having one with others, even if you think you can (or are) and the secret to making a real difference in this world.
How we view “investing” in relationships impacts how we connect and interact with others. If you consider sitting down for the proverbial cup of coffee everyone always talks about, or sharing a meal with someone as your measurement for relational investment, you are right! Time, resources and ability to actually meet-up in real life (or virtually) add conditions that may never be met.
Case-in-Point: How many times have you parted after serendipitously crossing paths with someone, both agreeing to catch-up on an unspecified future date and never did? Each was sincere at that moment. You would love to spend time, to “invest” more in this relationship — but… it never happened. Does this mean you don’t have a real relationship with this person?
Next time — and likely there will be a next time — when your paths cross you sheepishly look at each other and sigh, knowing you failed in just making some time for them in your day (and they for you, in theirs). You smile, thinking how wonderful it will be and wholeheartedly long to get together, but life’s crazy schedules continue to crush the day, so setting aside a few minutes seems impossible.
There is a vast difference between developing relationships with a select few and having an impact with all you meet. It’s important to realize even with a chance meeting, a relationship has begun. Obviously with a deeper long-term relationship, more time is spent. However, even in a fleeting moment a lasting impact can be made on others through our interaction with them. This happens by how we live, walk out our faith, our words left with others, how they see us.
It may seem surprising, but those we meet in brief encounters often do remember. In over 20+ years of service, I have been blessed many times when those I’ve had the privilege of serving in ministry (or encountered in every day life) remind me of something I did or said — often in the moment — that made a real positive difference in their lives. Sometimes this grateful remembrance comes back to me by another messenger — my husband, family, friend or someone I met by chance who heard the story! I call this a double blessing!
Our example is Jesus. He had an inner circle of friends, yet left a living legacy globally through His impact, touching countless lives throughout His time here on earth continues today. Even those who were not His disciples developed a real, life-changing relationship with Jesus when they simply crossed paths with Him. They never had coffee or a meal together, but desired a real relationship — and had one with Him.
Case-in-Point: When Jesus risked asking a Samaritan woman at the well for a drink of water in John 4:1-30. Yes, He said He was thirsty, but probably could have drawn water himself. Instead, in that momentary encounter He sought to speak with the woman at the well. It was life-changing for her. She could draw water at the well, but was still thirsty. He told her of the living water, assured her He was the Messiah and told her how we (as believers) should worship and live.
If Christians endeavor to live as Jesus does, we mustn’t limit our relationships to only those we believe are tangible and important to us. If we allow it, often God brings us together with others who will change our lives, and those whom we may inspire, or encourage to live a more fulfilling life.
It is in those places where our lives are lived for God’s best with a heart dedicated to His purpose, we will have a positive impact in the world, or bless others. It is wonderful (but not required) to have a close-knit group of friends. When we live to serve God, accepting all of His blessings, our lives are to follow His ways, not go our own way. We do fulfill God’s purpose by ministering to others in the moment, serving however we can. Romans 12: 1-2 tells us how we can do this.
Having coffee with someone in need isn’t usually an option. Although they thirst, they need far more than that. Although they may be hungry their need is not often met at the local cafe. In this moment, the latest greatest burger, or extra cream and sugar are not priorities for them. A large latte doesn’t matter. I love what Romans 12: 9-13 says about serving others — it’s a big key for planner peeps — about the importance of being “inventive in hospitality.”
It is also a mistake to think that by being a believer our “relationship” with someone is going to solve all of their problems or needs, like a one-stop fix-it solution. We (nor any friendship outside of one with Jesus) is ever the answer for any of our needs. The answer always lies in Jesus.
Life and everything we encounter isn’t really all about us. Often we hear, speak, sing or think we want to be more like Jesus and much less of ourselves. If we really want to do this, in all of relationships, including any momentary chance meeting we must take the more of Jesus approach.
If we’re honest we don’t have all the answers. We do not know what tomorrow brings. We can’t imagine what’s in store for us today. A collaborative brainstorming session with our best earthly friend doesn’t always result in a satisfactory solution. But God’s Word has the answer to every problem or troubling situation. Time spent in deepening a relationship with Jesus goes a long way to resolving issues and challenges we encounter.
We cannot quench the world’s thirst for knowledge and understanding. We cannot keep the world fed. It’s astonishing to look around and see all the global efforts striving to do this. And still the needs remain — and continue to grow. In John 12:8a, Jesus told us there will always be poor people. He knows it. He could fix it, but it still exists. We are to do our part. We can help.
In our relationships we can begin to make the world better by reaching out and helping others, not waiting to make that coffee chat date. We may provide for needs with our time and resources, but Jesus’ point is the “needs” of all people are well beyond their hunger and thirst, and located well outside the sphere of our desire for meaningful relationships with only a select few.
It is all about Him and His provision (which never runs out ). He always has time for us. It’s all far less about “us” than we often allow ourselves to think and bemoan our pressing 24-7 time limitations as we make our stingy investment of a 2-hour one-time lunch date with a friend so we can check that off our list. We cannot single-handedly solve the world’s problems. Relying on Him, providing the encouragement and knowledge of Him to those in need, we can begin to make a lasting impact, as we wholeheartedly love from who we are, discover the beauty in everyone, and surprise them with goodness.