Morning Devotion: Gaining wisdom is vital to thriving. Let’s talk about relationships-great ones set you up to go further, draining ones sabotage efforts. God desires we have mutual and life giving relationships.
I had a very bad habit of giving people too much; too much access to me, too much availability, too much sacrificing for their benefit. They say you can never give too much-this is a lie.
Giving without wisdom is just as bad as not giving at all.
Giving in the wrong places, sowing into the wrong soil is just as bad as not sowing.
Let me break it down with examples. If I had a million dollars and gave it to someone who flushed it down the toilet, was that a good investment? No! They put the million dollars in the toilet and flushed it. They had no value for what was given to them. So they wasted it. Say they come back a few weeks later and asked for another million. It would be utter foolishness to give them another million. Yet let’s say you did and they flushed it down the toilet. They come back another time and ask for a million dollars. If you keep giving it to them, it’s pure foolishness.
How many times in Christian relationships is there a push to just give, give, and give with no wisdom? There is this push to give money, volunteer everywhere, give people-even toxic ones full access to your life, and just keep enduring abuse and mistreatment.
Jesus was not foolish. God is not foolish. God is a wise investor. Yes God allows His goodness to flow over the just and the unjust. God also invests wisely. God knows before He pursues us who we will become. God knew though Peter denied Jesus who he would become. God is purposeful, not aimless. There is a divine purpose behind everything God does and everything God allows. Even God has a boundary on who has full access to Him. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father unless they come through the Son.” God also has an expectation on His love. God tells us He expects to be loved in return. He freely gives us love. Love given relationship with God IS expected to be returned.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
Jesus answered him, “‘Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.’ This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is like it in importance: ‘You must love your friend in the same way you love yourself.’ Contained within these commandments to love you will find all the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.”~Matthew 22:36-40.
We are actually told the greatest commandment is to love God. God anticipates mutual love. I know this is not always taught, yet it’s biblical. God loves without our love. He does not cease loving if we do. God still expects mutual love in relationship. I truly believe one of the reasons humans struggle with loving other people is due to a lack of understanding of how to love God. God is their Mr. Fix it, or trunk monkey. He is not someone they engage with just because they love Him. Therefore they do not know how to just love other people.
We are invited to be good to people, even our enemies. This does not mean we become unwise and foolish. Get wisdom the bible says.
A prudent person with insight foresees danger coming and prepares himself for it.
But the senseless rush blindly forward
and suffer the consequences,~Proverbs 22:3.
Say goodbye to a troublemaker and you’ll say goodbye to quarrels, strife, tension, and arguments, for a troublemaker traffics in shame,~Proverbs 22:10.
Walk away from an angry man or you’ll embrace a snare in your soul by becoming bad-tempered just like him,~Proverbs 22:24-25.
So stop fooling yourselves! Evil companions will corrupt good morals and character.[c]~1 Corinthians 15:32.
[c] 1 Corinthians 15:33 This is likely a quotation from the Athenian poet Menander (Thras. 218). Paul is using this quote to encourage the believers to stay away from those who deny the resurrection.
If Suzie only calls you to download her issues and problems, when she is bored, and sucks up hours of your time needed elsewhere, why are you answering the phone? Suzie is responsible for her own life and you yours. Yes we pray for people. Yes we love people. We also set boundaries.
I have sent people to ministries that have 24/7 prayer support, told then to pursue a counselor or life coach or soul healing or told them I could no longer be their stand in crisis person. Why? I am not God. I don’t want to be Jehovah Jr. I have limited time, tons of obligations, my own issues, and limited emotional capacity. God has no limits. I can not do all things. I can do all things God purposes me to do. Everything and everyone is not my assignment, nor yours.
If we are not careful, people will put us into the God spot. We do not belong there. Only God can be God. We have some limitations.
If Lucy has a bad temper and goes off on you regularly, and you have addressed this behavior with her and she never apologies and continues to verbally abuse you, why are you hanging out with Lucy? Why? Lucy has demonstrated with her actions that she does not care about you. Continuing to pursue closeness with Lucy is not helping Lucy become a better person. Lucy knows no matter how poorly she treats you, you will be back for her to verbally beat up again.
I am going to say something that may be shocking. Love sets boundaries! I repeat, “Love sets boundaries.”
What are boundaries? This is where someone else’s freedom ends where ours begins. It is self care, not selfishness. It is saying, “I value myself and I value you.” It is also wise stewardship. God expects us to love ourselves. We are told to love our neighbor AS we love ourselves. Boundaries examine what God has placed inside us and around us that needs guarded from just anyone and everyone having access.
I love the phrase, “Build a fence, not a wall around your heart. People can see its beauty, yet not everyone has access.”
If we do not gain wisdom in relationships, we can end up in toxic, abusive, one sided, life sucking relationships. How can I say this? I have walked it out. I just wanted to love people and love lavishly gives without expectation of return (in my mind). Like Oprah’s giveaways, I was going around to any and everyone, “You get love, you get love, you get love.” I would befriend anyone and drop my priorities to help other people. I would take vacation to help other people. I learned the following:
1. Without boundaries people treat you like a doormat or worse; you are something to wipe their muddy feet on and they do not respect you. Lack of boundaries leads to mistreatment, being used, and sometimes even abuse.
2. God did not ask me or you to be the sacrificial lamb for everyone. We are to follow the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit. Yes give, yes love people, and also LISTEN to the Holy Spirit. I had an instance with street ministry where the Holy Spirit told me not to stop for this man begging. I did anyway thinking, “This could not be God. This man is in need.” That man was super nasty squared! God was trying to save me from wasting time, I refused to listen.
3. Some people and things are a distraction! Hear me again. They are a distraction. They come and suck up time and resources when God has other things for us to do or other assignments. Put some prayer on it. God do you want me connected to this? Everything that sounds good or looks good is not God. Learning to set limits and say no is vital.
“Thank you for your offer, I am unable to do that at this time.”
“Thank you so much for thinking of me. I am not able to participate.”
We can lovingly say no.
4. Lack of boundaries is a lack of love for self. I have always hated the love God, love your neighbor, then love yourself last. It is wrong. The true order is receive love from God, love ourselves and God, then love our neighbor AS we love ourselves. God expects us to love ourselves. How do we want to be treated? Why are we tolerating less than that?
5. Lack of boundaries fuels entitlement. Entitlement says, “This is owed to me.” Believe it or not, I have had people demand I be in relationship with them. Or they were quite toxic in choices, behavior and expected close friendship or tried to manipulate me into friendship. Ummmm no. Friendship and relationships are gifts, not obligations. We give thanks for relationships and try to steward them with love. They do not owe us relationship. If we are a poor steward, we may lose relationships.
There are people I love and pray for that do not have full access to me; their access is limited. They have shown repeadily that they are mean spirited, unrepentant, some hostile, and grossly selfish. If they were hungry, I would feed them. Naked, try to get them an outfit. I pray for them. I do not invite them to hang out and talk about my deep inner world. Why? They are going to trample it under foot or go flush it down the toilet. I do not drop my schedule anymore to help others unless God tells me too. I have priorities, obligations, and assignments from God.
This does not mean if someone needs 911 I ignore it. It does mean if I have project work to do and someone needs a ride they can call Uber. It does mean some calls can go to voicemail. It does mean I give people tools to see their own personal breakthrough. It does mean I don’t drop what I am doing for everyone. If I did, I would be driven by people not the Holt Spirit. It does mean I now take a year or so to assess people before I share my inner world-call them a friend.
I have offered way too many people friendship who came into the garden of my heart, poured gasoline, and lit it on fire. They were destructive. I am not wounded nor jaded. I learned something.
I stopped initiating with people who never ever initiated with me or only contacted me if I first contacted them or gave them something or they need something. I learned. Oh baby did I learn.
When people show us who they are, I believe them. I believe what people show me. I am not criticizing nor putting them down. I am assessing a situation based on the evidence. I then set boundaries based on who they are, not what they say. People can chant, “I love you all day,” yet their actions scream indifferent, just here for what I can get, or hostile. Yes we look for the gold, we also gain wisdom! We also function with discernment. We learn to hear and follow the Holy Spirit.
Finally, God wants us connected to people who will steward our hearts, time, and resources like He would. God takes NO delight in toxic relationship. Would we want our children mistreated? Hopefully no. God’s heart is far bigger than ours. God loves His children FAR more than we do.
1. If you have children or had a child, what kind of friends would you want them to have? Write it out. Do your friends match that list? Are you that type of friend?
2. Assess who gets most of your time or resources? How are they stewarding what is given? You can waste time with those who have no value for what you offer. How can you better steward the time and resources?
-I have pulled back from super investing as a mentor in people who do absolutely nothing with what is given to them. Why? There are other people who will steward it well.
Bless you! Have an amazing Saturday!
P.S Be sure to check out my latest book Confident & Free Paperback and Confident & Free ebook. If you wish for a signed copy and love in the USA or Canada, please stop by my business website Lamb Enterprises LLC (Live Empowered & Free).