The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper (Proverbs 19:8 NIV).
When we bring joy into the relationship realm, it blesses and builds those we love. Negative attitudes and actions erode a relationship, but joy, gratefulness, and appreciation strengthen relationships. Allowing God to infuse our hearts with these positive emotions aids us in bringing our best selves to T.H.E.M.—to all those we love and value.
Let’s look at four key ideas featured in the Growing a Joyful Heart devotional, which can help us take our eyes off ourselves and on to T.H.E.M.:
Thank God for Them:
Philippians 1:3 models this: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you… People can tell when you appreciate them. We want to live in such a way that when people think of us, they light up with delight. Also, thanking God for someone, with this “attitude of gratitude,” builds a sense of deep respect, honor, and gratefulness toward the person. In short, we like people more and are willing to stay in their life with steadfast love when we are also praising God for them.
Hold Them in Your Heart:
Philippians 1:7 explains: It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace… Our goal is to be “partakers of grace,” as we hold others in our hearts. This means we choose to NOT make a relationship about a list of behaviors. Instead, we carry others with constant love, giving the benefit of the doubt to another’s intentions or motives. When a relationship is based only on behaviors, no one can stay good enough, long enough to succeed. Love’s grace always trumps human imperfection.
Express Joy to Them:
Philippians 1: 4 challenges us to love with joy and prayer: always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy… We are drawn to people who express joy when they see us. Knowing someone is praying for you, with JOY, can build and bond a relationship. That’s why praying for someone—and letting them know you are praying—is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
Multiply Love by Applying God’s Love:
Philippians 1: 9 encourages us to love more like God: And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment… We can deepen our understanding of a verse by reading it in a few translations or paraphrased versions. I find joy in seeing the HOW to love in these verses in The Message:
So, this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of.
As you love like Jesus, your relationships will become healthier and more enjoyable. And as we bring our happy, hopeful, positive attitude of JOY to each relationship, we will be easier to love too!
Pam Farrel is an international speaker, relationship expert, and author of 60 books. Bill and Pam Farrel are co-directors of Love-Wise helping people apply God’s love and wisdom to their vital relationships. Love-Wise.com
Karen Whiting is the author of 34 books an international speaker, certified writing coach, former TV host, and co–author of Growing a Joyful Heart: Devotions of Accepting God’s Gifts for Abundant Living from Joy Givers Past, Present and Future (AMG). karenwhiting.com