Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reciprocity In Relationship

I've been thinking much lately about the necessity of reciprocity in all true relationship.
"A man that hath friends must show himself friendly" (Proverbs 18:24).
Giving and receiving forms and informs every genuine bond in our existence, including our relationship with God. "Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you" (James 4:8). Of course, God precedes us in our approach, whether in leading us initially to faith in the Lord Jesus - "No man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw Him" - or in our maintaining and enjoying fellowship with Him thereafter - "It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (John 6:44; Philippians 2:13). Nevertheless, we must respond and reciprocate if genuine communion with our Lord is to be vibrantly experienced. As A.W. Tozer once wrote, "We will know God about as well as we want to know Him."
The same is true in our human relationships. We must devote ourselves to the giving of time, attention, concern and communication in every God-given bond of family, friendship, professional association and other forms of personal acquaintance. And we also expect to receive, not for our own benefit, which we entrust to God. For the benefit of the other person and the relationship itself, however, we recognize that both parties must actively invest in the relationship if it is to actually be a relationship. God Himself made humanity with this fraternal nature that exists in His own triune being, and is reflected in our associations as blessing and being blessed is expected and enjoyed.
One of God's greatest gifts of love to those who believe in the Lord Jesus is the capacity He provides to love Him in response. "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us" (Romans 5:5). Had He left us in our selfishness when we were born again, no real salvation would result. Thankfully, the Lord Jesus constitutes in our redemption a "new man, created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). Genuine relationship with God becomes possible, that is, the giving and receiving whereby both parties rejoice in a oneness of shared devotion, affection and commitment. All glory flows to the Lord Jesus for making such fellowship possible, and for enabling our active participation in relating to the One who so lovingly relates to us. "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).
Upon this basis of relationship with God, we go forth seeking to experience the same with people. We self sacrificially devote ourselves to family, friend, neighbor, associate and even the brief and casual moment we experience with the passersby in our lives. Furthermore, we commit to acting in such a manner as to encourage and enable those whom we love to love in response. Genuine relationships result as the giving and receiving that exists in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit finds in us a willing heart to experience love as it exists in God. There is no other, and the Lord Jesus is greatly glorified as His prayer for us from so long ago is answered in us...
"O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
(John 17:25-26)

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