“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV)
Yesterday we talked about the first of five factors that influence your identity. We have all been made wonderfully complex and full of flaws, but until we embrace who we are — including our flaws — we cannot make the changes in our lives that will bring about true transformation.
The second factor that influences your identity is your connections. Your connections give your life purpose, meaning, and identity. If you grew up with dysfunctional relationships, then you question your purpose and struggle with identity.
Jesus said that the most important thing we should do is love God and love other people (Mark 12:30-31). Life is not about your accomplishments or acquisitions, your popularity or prestige. It’s about how well you love.
There are three problems that keep us from loving fully as God intended:
1. We’re all imperfect. There are no perfect relationships because there are no perfect people.
2. Sin disconnects us. Adam and Eve had the first broken relationship and disconnected themselves from God and from each other. We’ve been excusing ourselves and accusing the people we love ever since.
3. The more disconnected we are, the more fearful we become. We crave intimacy, but we fear vulnerability. We crave acceptance, but we fear rejection.
You are a product of your relationships. Study after study shows that our identity is largely determined by what we think the most important people in our lives think of us. That’s why you should make sure that Jesus is the most important person in your life, because he will love you unconditionally.
We all have different connections: some healthy, some broken, some non-existent. It’s important to have healthy connections because it plays such a large role in determining your identity. People who have healthy relationships don’t have to ask, “Does my life matter?”
You may not have had a say in the hand you were dealt in life. But God sent his son as your savior to transform your cards into a winning hand. No matter what connections you’ve made in life — whether good or bad, you will be held responsible for what you do with your connections today.
Will you let God affect your connections? Will you trust him for your future in spite of a difficult past? Will you nurture, protect, and build relationships so that God is more fully glorified in your life?
Resolve today to build healthy and not hurtful relationships with God’s help.
Talk About It
In what relationships do you need to invest more time or more of Christ’s love?
How are you doing with “loving your neighbor as yourself”? How about with your difficult relatives, co-workers, or in a broken relationship?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.