Most recently, my son kind of put me in my place as to how I talk about relationships. If you recall, when Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment in Mark 12, He talks about relationships. He is says the most important thing for us to do is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The greatest commandment is for us to give all that we are to our relationship with God. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. So, second only to God, we should put all of our energy into our relationships with other people.
That all seems pretty cut and dry. Jesus leaves no room for loving stuff or for being selfish. Yet, that is what we tend to do. We often focus on ourselves, our desires, and our stuff much more than our relationships. That is part of our sinful nature. That is part of being human. That is why it is so hard to do right.
My son recently started school and has a sweet Transformers backpack. As he was randomly wearing it around the house, because that is what kids do, I decided to pay him a compliment. I said, “Man, I love your backpack.” Then speaking to me as if I were a child and he was an adult, he replied, “Daddy…we don’t love backpacks, we love people.”
Wow. I know I don’t really love his backpack, although I may be a little jealous. But that really got me thinking about how I talk about “stuff” and how I talk about my relationships. If everything I said was an accurate interpretation of my feelings, it would be very clear that I value food, sports, television, food (are you really surprised that I said food twice?), and possessions much more than I value my friends and maybe even my family.
How sad is that? I am so careless with my language that relationships seem to be at the bottom of my priority list, when they are supposed to be at the very top. And just think, if I took all the time I spend talking about these earthly things and dedicated it to my relationships, I would be a much better Christian, husband, father, son, brother, and friend. I would be much closer to being the person that God wants me to be.
How about you? Are your relationships the most important things in your life? Does your language, your attitude, and the way you spend your time reflect that?
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 NIV)