Leave it better than you found it! That’s what Boy Scouts are taught to do. What a good idea! I’m taking a look at how we, as Christians, can leave things better than we found them. One such thing is our jobs: When we leave our jobs, do we leave them better than when we were hired? Another area of our lives I want to encourage you to consider is this:
We should leave our relationships better than we found them.
Relationships are the sandpaper of life, are they not? We all need to live in relationship with others, and yet getting along with the people in our lives can be the toughest assignment we have. How can we leave our relationships better than we found them?
Let’s start with what we call The Golden Rule which Jesus gave us when he said, “Treat other people exactly as you would like to be treated by them—this is the essence of all true religion” (Matthew 7:12, J.B. Phillips New Testament). Jesus says that we should take the initiative to improve the relationships of our lives, not wait on the other person to do it. Has someone treated you unkindly lately? If so, are you willing to put this Golden Rule into practice and respond to them the way you wish they would respond to you? If you do, you will definitely improve that relationship.
Here’s another relationship principle from the Bible that will definitely leave a relationship better than we found it, and it comes from Philippians 2:3-4:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
Putting others first is a sure winner when it comes to improving relationships. I remember when I read that passage, I just shook my head because I couldn’t figure how in the world I could ever live up to it. Value others above myself? That doesn’t come naturally for me. How about you?
I began to pray and ask God to show me how to put this into practice. God showed me that it begins with an attitude of the heart. An older New International Version says to “consider others better than yourself,” to think of others in that way. I find that if I change my thought life—if I remind myself that truly, others are just as important as I am, and that what they’re doing is just as important as what I’m doing—then I can start to genuinely look to their interests and not just my own.
If we practiced these two principles in our relationships, there is no doubt we’d see great improvement, and we’d leave them better than we found them!