Keith Wishum: The give and take of relationships

Published 2:12 pm Saturday, June 22, 2019

Relationships are reciprocal.

How are yours today? Are you getting along well with your family? Do you have good relationships with the people at work or school? You can if you’ll remember that relationships are reciprocal.

What that means is that we tend to treat people much like they have treated us. If you hurt me, I want to hurt you. On the other hand, if you buy my lunch this week, I’m inclined to buy your lunch next week. That’s how relationships are reciprocal.

Often, we use this reciprocity principle as justification for our actions. “He started it,” we’ve been saying since we were old enough to say anything at all. But, Jesus prescribed a different approach which sees this principle as a great opportunity.

Instead of reacting and blaming others, Jesus taught that we should control relationships. Isn’t that what he was saying when he gave us the simple golden rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12)?

He places the responsibility for the relationship on us. Don’t blame others if you don’t get along. Instead, take the initiative to act rightly toward them. That not only benefits them, but it also influences them to treat you better. You are likely to receive back what you give — to reap what you sow.

And this is no minor matter. Jesus added to the golden rule the rather astounding statement: “for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” It’s a foundational principle.

It’s even true of our relationship with God himself. If we “Come near to God” guess what happens? “He will come near to you” (James 4:8).

In every relationship, we have enormous opportunity to make life better — for others and for ourselves. If we follow the golden rule, everybody wins.

Would you like better relationships? What are you waiting for? Put this principle into practice now.

Be nice to your spouse today and instantly make your marriage better. Treat your kids or your parents well and watch the relationship improve. Same with those folks you work with or go to school with. If the relationships need improving, don’t waste time blaming others. Take it upon yourself to start making things better.

And, most of all, take a step toward God. See if he doesn’t respond by moving closer to you.

Relationships are reciprocal. Make the most of yours!

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.