What is a Relationship Worth?

     Human beings, while individual creatures, have the ability to form relationships with each other. Some relationships are jump started, if you will, by familial connections. Most of us have a pretty good relationship with our parents and value that relationship highly. From the family flow other relationships with siblings and their extended families.

     Then there are the relationships we form outside the family with other folks. We have relationships with fellow students at school and with co-workers on the job. From these relationships we form friendships, some of which we come to value as highly as any family relationship we might have. From among our friends we often choose (or are chosen by) the person we marry and with whom we have children. These relationships become the most important human connections we have in this life.

     This question comes to mind: “What is a relationship worth?” Without doubt some are worth more than others. But asking the question makes us think about the difficulty inherent in putting a value on any relationship. Children like to “rank” their friendships and try to decide who might be their best friend. But even though we have people in our lives with whom we have great commonality of interest and mutual love and affection, there is still a value to all relationships. That value is difficult to quantify.

     We cannot be surprised that Jesus provided guidance in this matter, both in His earthly ministry and through the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Remember John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” This is one of those places in the Lord’s preaching that He revealed a principle that applies throughout the Christian era. Mutual love was and is to characterize the relationship of one Christian to another.

     Jesus took the idea of loving others to a level many of us find a bit uncomfortable. In Matthew 5:44 He said, “But I say to you, love your enemies.” We may not like everyone we meet; we may not even like everybody “at church” (though we should certainly try). But we are to love them. We can hate sin but not the sinner. To love a sinner is not to dismiss his or her sin. To love an enemy is not to give in to him when he is in the wrong. To love a sinner is to help them see the truth. To love an enemy is to treat them as Christ treated His enemies: He taught them when they’d listen and corrected them when they wouldn’t.

     These passages hold principles that help us see the value of a relationship. The value of it is determined by the nature of the thing that holds it together. And the thing that holds relationships together is love. The more love the greater the value.

     Remember Colossians 3:12-14: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering: bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you must also do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” The implication of Colossians 3 is that there was tension in the church that needed to be relieved. Some of it had to do with the attitudes they had toward each other. In other words, it was about their relationships.

     What was the thing that was going to solve their problems? They had to do God’s will (Colossians 3:17). But they also had to allow the thing that created value in their relationships with each other to have its full and proper effect. The thing that held them together and gave value to their relationships was love (3:14). It is the glue that makes a relationship work, from friendship to family. We begin by loving the Lord (John 14:15). The more we love Him the greater the value of our relationship with Him will be. The more love the greater the value.