Setting Priorities – Part 2
Healthy, Godly Priorities
In an identity dependent life, our relationship priorities got skewed. We took upon ourselves the needs of others, based on our own compulsions, shame, and guilt. We believed we needed to focus on others, more than on ourselves. But these misplaced priorities led to numerous problems. Rather than attempting to change everything in our life that isn’t working in our physical-world circumstances, we need to choose to live each day based upon God’s priorities.
- We must seek an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ first and foremost, above everything and everyone. This will be the entire goal of our days and the entire purpose of our lives.
- We must open our heart to allow God’s truth to enter into our life. That means our heart must be able to receive the gifts He gives, and we must get rid of our selfish and prideful tendencies.
- We must learn to serve and love people in the way God asks us to serve and love. We no longer feel obligated to react to others, but we allow the Spirit of God in us to lead us to respond to situations in Biblical, Christ-like ways.
The nature of our relationships won’t necessarily change right away. One of the most difficult lessons to learn in life is that we can’t change other people. But God does give us the ability to change ourselves as we submit to Him. He transforms us through His love and grace and teaches us to live by His relationship principles. These become the foundation for building healthy relationships in our lives. Working these principles into our daily lives by first experiencing them with God, and then transferring them into our relationships with others may take some time. It is a maturing and growing process. By understanding these principles and encountering Jesus at the heart level, we have the opportunity to apply these same principles to every relationship we encounter.
- Love. The basis of God’s relationship with us is based on unconditional, agape love (see 1 Corinthians 13). We learn to give away the same love to others. We don’t love people based on whether they are lovable or not or whether they deserve it or not. We love them because God first loved us.
- Holiness. The basis of God’s relationship with us is His holiness. We should never condone or allow sinful behaviors. We can learn to hate negative, destructive behaviors in our relationships with others, and realize we don’t need to allow them into our life. We do have the choice of saying no.
- Freedom. The basis of God’s relationship with us is free will. He doesn’t ever operate by controlling us in order to force us to surrender our will to His. Likewise, in our own life, we honor the free will of others and avoid the tendency to attempt to control their behaviors. If their choices could harm us personally, we can set boundaries that protect us and impose consequences on them.
- Grace and mercy. The basis of God’s relationship with us is grace and mercy. Grace is receiving the things we don‘t deserve. Mercy is not receiving the consequences we do deserve. As we receive these amazing gifts from God, we offer them in our relationships with others.
- Discipline. God loves us enough to discipline us when we do things that take us away from His best. His discipline is evidence of His love (see Hebrews 12:6). We apply godly discipline to our relationships where we stand in a position of authority or leadership, using the same form or loving discipline that we have experienced from God.
- Forgiveness and reconciliation. God reconciles us to Himself through forgiveness. Forgiveness is the bridge that continually gives us access to enjoying God’s intimacy, peace, and love. Our relationships are reconciled and restored through that same forgiveness. Sometimes we need to forgive ourselves. Sometimes we need to forgive others.
- Personal development. God seeks to build us into a vision He has for our life. This means everything He offers in our relationship with Him is to nurture us to become like Jesus and to fulfill His purposes in and through our lives. In the same way, we must learn to offer others the freedom to become the people God created and intended them to be. We don’t interfere or attempt to make others into our own idea of what or who we think they should be.
- Intimacy. The highest desire of God’s heart is that we experience continual intimacy with Him through our relationship with Jesus Christ. This is closeness where we deeply know Him, and we allow Him to deeply know us. The highest desire in our close relationships is this same intimacy. When we learn to be authentic, vulnerable, and honest, we have the potential to grow close to others who reciprocate and honor that intimacy.
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