Life would be easy if we didn’t have to deal with people! Would you agree with that? People are the sandpaper of our lives. Far more than any other single thing we deal with, people cause more difficulties and are less controllable than anything else. Yet life would be boring, lonely, and unfulfilled if we didn’t have lots of people in our lives.
We all have two types of relationships in our lives: covenant relationships and contractual relationships. Having previously examined covenant relationships, I will now look at the other kind of relationships we have—contractual relationships.
The contractual relationships of our lives are those which, though sometimes important, can indeed be filled by someone else. Our role is an important part of their lives, but guess what—if we walked out tomorrow, somehow they’d survive without us. For example, your church is a vital part of your life; however, when it’s time for you to move on to another church or another job in the church, someone else will come along to fill your role.
We owe a lot to our contractual relationships, but they should never have as high of a priority in our lives as our covenant relationships do. If we get the priorities reversed, it can cause a great deal of harm and stress.
Do you have some really good friends—the kind who build your faith and encourage you in the Lord? I hope so. Those good friends are not in your life by accident. You have a responsibility to them. In Proverbs 17:17 we read, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” A good friend is loyal and is there when things are tough. Have you been that kind of friend?
At all times includes those times when a friend may not be giving us what we need in the relationship. But if we’re the friend we should be, we will love at all times, even when it is not reciprocated. At all times includes the middle of the night, or in the midst of a busy schedule. Can you think of some good friends who need a listening ear or a helping hand? It’s not an accident that God has put you in their lives to help them.
In Romans 12:15, we see where we are to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Do you know a friend going through a rough time? Perhaps you are there in their life to cry with them. Maybe you have a friend who has just had something wonderful happen. Have you celebrated with that friend? This is your responsibility; this is one reason they’re in your life.
In Proverbs 27:6 we read, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted. . . .” That sounds strange, doesn’t it? A good friend wouldn’t wound us, would they?
My friend was telling me of a woman in her Bible study who was complaining that God didn’t seem very close to her anymore; she couldn’t pray like she used to. She kept talking in these vague generalities, so my friend, Nancy, continued probing with love and gentleness. Finally, this woman confessed that there was an area in her life where she was being disobedient to God. The next day she called Nancy and said, “Thank you for not letting me get by with my weak excuses and forcing me to face myself. I didn’t like it at the time, but I needed to get that out in the open.”
Nancy wounded her, gently and with great love and concern, but in so doing she helped her to get things right with the Lord and restore fellowship with him. Now, you have to earn your right to be a friend who wounds. We can do great damage to a friendship if we do this kind of thing in the wrong way at the wrong time. I have friends who have earned their right to be a friend who wounds, and how I thank God for those friends! Those are wounds that can be trusted.
Think about your good friends today and ask this question: What is my purpose in their lives right now, and what is their purpose in mine? They’re not in your life by accident!
I well remember when I had a very difficult boss in my life; all I could think about was how quickly I might find another job and get out of there. For one year I tried my best to “fly away and be at rest,” as the Psalmist puts it, but nothing worked. Finally, that inner voice of God’s Spirit clearly said to me, “You’re here for a purpose.”
I thought, What purpose could be served by working for this very difficult, humiliating, and intimidating man? But I began to pray differently: “Lord, I believe that no one is in my life by accident. I accept this difficult boss. Please help me to see him through your eyes.”
What a difference it made when I finally stopped rebelling against him being in my life and truly accepted it for some good, good which I could neither see nor understand at the time. But now I can tell you that the next two years I worked for him prepared me to be self-employed, which in turn enabled me to start and run this ministry. Over the past thirty-three years, God has chosen to grow this ministry from one station to over 400, and I could have never done that without the freedom of being self-employed. God was using this difficult man to prepare me for his work, though it is only in retrospect that I can now see that.
Who is that difficult person in your life? Can you trust God that he has that person there for some good reason? Can you put that person in a different frame—a positive frame—and start praying for that person? When you do, God is then able to work miracles for you and turn that pain into gain for you.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:14 Paul gives some practical instructions for us as to how we should treat three specific kinds of people: “Warn the idle, encourage the timid, help the weak.”
Idleness is never acceptable to God. Ecclesiastes 10:18 says, “If a person is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks.” Idleness leads to disaster.
Are there some idle people in your life? If so, ask God to give you an appropriate opening to lovingly warn them of this problem. If you can help them overcome that tendency, you will be doing them a great favor. Physical laziness will lead to deterioration of assets and property, loss of income, and loss of jobs or career opportunities. Spiritual idleness will lead to moral failure, loss of fellowship with the Lord, and lost opportunities to do eternally significant things. Those idle people are not in your life by accident. It could be that the Lord wants you to warn them of the dangers of idleness.
Timidity can be very painful. Frequently timid people avoid contact with others simply to eliminate the uncomfortableness they often feel around other people. You’ll notice they hang back in a group, are reluctant to say anything, and are often the last to come and the first to leave a function. They appear to be loners, and many times people leave them alone because they think they want to be alone. In fact, they may even claim that they prefer to be alone.
But often deep inside they are longing for someone who will be persistent enough to get to know them and to include them in the group. We can encourage those who are timid by watching out for them, learning to include them, and trying to make them comfortable in our presence.
Psalm 41:1 says, “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.” And Psalm 82:3 states, “Defend the weak and fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”
Who are the weak whom we are supposed to help? First, those who are weak in body. God is honored when we help those who physically can’t do everything for themselves like we can. As I watched my mom and dad in their latter years before going to be with Jesus, I gained a new appreciation for those who are there for the weak and helpless. What a ministry that is.
Most of us have someone in our lives who fits that category. How much do we do for those who are physically weak? We can visit nursing homes, help handicapped we see in public areas, offer to go shopping for someone who is elderly, just to mention a few. Help those who are physically weak.
The weak are also those who are poor. That means giving some money to people who have less than we do. I imagine you can think of someone right now who fits that description. Why not give them some money? It doesn’t have to be a large amount, but give them something. You’ll be greatly blessed.
I remember when a friend in our Sunday school class was out of work and needed money to move. We had been praying that God would send her the money, and at church that day she was sharing her need with a friend in a conversation. Someone else overheard her and, even though they didn’t know her, that person wrote her a check to cover her moving costs. Right there on the spur of the moment, she reached out a helping hand to one who was temporarily financially weak. I am certain she was even more blessed than my friend who received the money.
In Romans 14:1 we are told to “accept the one whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” The person who is weak in faith is not a second-class Christian. This is the first thing we need to understand. How easy it is for us to judge those who are weak in faith instead of to help them. We can help those who are weak in their faith more by example than we can by words. Love them, don’t condemn them. Pray for them, and then watch God work some miracles.
I hope you’ll remember the title of this message: No One Is in Your Life by Accident. When you start to believe that, God is going to show you marvelous reasons why he has put people into your life. You’ll be able to accept the difficult relationships much better, and appreciate the good ones so much more. You will find yourself reaching out to many people with the encouragement that God has given to you.more