The Relationship Tree

Posted By: Dieuner Joseph | Thursday, May 09, 2019

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

The Bible Institute at my church started the 40 Days of Love Campaign this past Sunday. Lesson 1 of that campaign focuses on relationship. During our Bible study last night, the group talked about the difficulty of having a relationship with people they deem to be toxic. Many of them spoke about the steps they’ve had to take to prevent some people from hurting them. One of those steps is cutting off any relationship from the people who hurt them.

I explained to the group that they should each consider themselves as a relationship tree. The people in their life are branches of that tree. Some branches are higher and stronger than others. Each branch has many leaves. Agape love is the soil upon which the tree should be planted. Prayer is necessary to water that relationship tree. The word of God is the fertilizer.

Every now and then, we each have to prune that relationship trip by cutting off the dying leaves so that greener leaves can grow on the branches. There may be a time when the entire branch has to be cut off so that the tree can be more fruitful. For example, if you are in a relationship with someone who is physically or verbally abusive, that person may have to be cut off because they have no intention of bearing any fruit.

The issue with most people is that they want their relationship tree to be a friendship tree. They get disappointed when the people in their lives do not act like a good friend. The Scribes and Pharisees were undoubtedly not Jesus’ friends. But Jesus consistently challenged them and ministered to them until they killed him. He had a messianic and religious relationship with them, though they were not his friend.

Moreover, it wasn’t until the end of his earthly life that Jesus called the disciples his friends. For two and a half years of ministry, the disciples were Jesus’ servants. During that time, he traveled with them, ate with them, rescued them, gave them power and authority over demons, he healed them, and he anointed them to do his Father’s work, but he never called them friends until the end.

Not everyone in our relationship trip should be a friend. God does not ask us to make everyone a friend. He commands us to love. Many Christians are not able to love like Christ because they are emotionally hurt by people they considered friends. Some people cannot even forgive family members because that family member failed to act like a good friend. What they don’t realize is that different people have different understanding and expectation of friendship. By expecting everyone to act like a friend, we are setting ourselves up for frustration and disappointment.

Jesus was able to forgive Peter and kept Peter in his relationship tree because he understood the type of relationship he had with Peter. He did not cut Judas off his relationship tree though he knew that Judas would betray him. Jesus rebukes Peter and Judas on many occasions as part of their pruning. By the time he ascended to heaven, the disciples were spiritually stronger and more mature because they were taught vital lessons about relationships.

In the end, we are called to make disciples of others through love. There is always an aspect of love that can cause heartache and pain. That heartache and anxiety can be exacerbated when we expect people to act like friends. However, if we accept our Lord’s command to makes disciples, it will not be as challenging for us to love them and fashion a spiritual relationship with them, even when they are not our friends.

Prayer- Blessed Lord, I pray for everyone in my relationship trip. I pray they can see you and serve you through my words and actions.

About The Author

Rev. Dieuner Joseph is a dynamic leader, disciple Maker, Writer, Talk Show host, and Spiritual counselor. Reverend Joseph is the founder of the Imani Temple Baptist Church and the Disciple Maker Ministry. He is a skilled Bible teacher who carefully and responsibly exegete the Scriptures to make them relevant to today’s readers. Through his Blog and weekly Christian magazine- The Wednesday Word- he seeks to provide Bible based instructions for dealing with the socio-political issues of today.

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