The Hard Work of Relationships – In the World (marketplace) - Friday, August 17th

The Hard Work of Relationships – In the World (marketplace) - Friday, August 17th

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity., so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:5-6

Today's thoughts from today's verses:

How true it is that we struggle in some areas of life in an ongoing and constant way. Improvement in these areas is very much called for. There is a kind of tension we experience from these ongoing, constant areas of life that nag at us. This is particularly true of this week’s area of consideration: relationships.

The primary source of tension in relationships comes from the fact that people at their core are selfish. We want what we want and we want others to do what we want. The problem of tensions in relationships because of selfishness, runs through all the settings we are looking at this week. The setting for relationships we are looking at today is the world (marketplace).

“The World” sounds like an awfully big setting, doesn’t it? It would seem to encompass all the settings we have addressed this week. Perhaps in a sense it does, but the way we want to look at “the world” is more specific than that. For our purposes we are talking about the marketplace. The marketplace consists of those gathering places where the general populace shows up to engage in and benefit from sources of commerce, cultural activity, social services, education, entertainment, etc.

Most of us rub shoulders with people in the “marketplace world” every day and how we conduct ourselves in these relationships is extremely important. Today’s Scripture tells us to conduct ourselves with wisdom toward outsiders. There is a sense that everyone we relate to in the “marketplace world” is an outsider. Most likely they are outside all the other settings we have addressed this week in which relationships take place. Usually, we do not know with certainty where these people are in regard to “faith in God.” So, thinking of them as outsiders to us is appropriate, but only in a very preliminary sense.

Conducting ourselves with wisdom toward marketplace people (outsiders) is all about not relating to them and treating them as “outsiders.” How often Christians in our world today view and treat marketplace people in ways that make them feel like they are “the enemy,” “have nots,” or “a target.” This is not making the most of the opportunity. It is often what we have to say that gets us into trouble and usually we say the wrong thing because we selfishly allow ourselves to be offended by the people of the marketplace world.

Today’s Scripture says this: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt.” Often people in the marketplace world are absorbed in the culture of the world and not the culture of heaven. It is not our job to point out any of the discrepancies between the two that we see in their lives. It is our job to be a blessing to them. We must genuinely embrace them for all that they are right at that moment with genuine care and consideration.

While embracing a person of the marketplace world in such a manner often helps build a bridge from them to God, we must avoid engaging with them solely to reach them. We must simply engage another person as one real person relating to another real person. When we get this right, we will be ones who know how to “respond to each person” appropriately. When we have relationships with people of the market place world that follow the pattern outlined in today’s Scripture, they will be blessed with love, grace, and acceptance. It is this kind of conduct that helps open the doors of people’s hearts to God’s love and the provision of grace offered through Jesus Christ.

Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

Lord, forgive me for the wrong attitudes, behaviors, and speech I have had toward people in the market place world. Help me to deal with the discrepancies of my own life. Teach me how to relate properly to people of the marketplace world. Show me how to engage the culture in beautiful ways. Thank you for your patience and grace in my life, Lord. Amen!

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