One of our pastors at my church recently loaned me some of his teaching notes, and I read in them this paragraph that has really impacted me:
“I am more permanently tied to the people in this room than I am to wife. What I mean by this is that our marriage covenant will end when I die, but my relationship to my brothers and sisters in Christ will remain into eternity. I will know my wife as I do my other brothers and sisters in Christ.”
What would change if we viewed our relationships through the lens of the eternal first; if we viewed ourselves as brothers and sister before we viewed ourselves as spouses, co-workers, roommates or partners in ministry?
Here are four things I think it would affect:
#1 How we respond to others failure.
If we view our failure first through the lens of a wife or an entitled member of the community, then the sin of others becomes about and against us. The first thing we have to process is how they have dishonored the covenant they made with us; how they have failed the vows and commitments they made.
And I’m not minimizing that, but what would happen if our first response was as a sister?
We would table our pain for a second so that we can be for them and on their team. We would remind them that their sin is against God and we’d point them to the truth that Christ stands ready to forgive and cleanse.
#2 How we respond to our own failure.
I think if we could see our role as a sister first, it would mean that as much as we don’t want to hurt our spouse or have them think negatively of us, we would confess our sin to them because we need them as a brother. We would go to them with our sin, because we need their help, and we believe that’s their function in our lives – to present us to God holier than we were when we started this thing.
My roommate has modeled this well for me.
The other day I was processing jealousy I feel about her with her. I know it hurts her to hear the ways that my flesh sometimes roots for her to fail, but she invites me to share with her because she knows that I need her to help me fight this. Her role to help me persevere trumps her fear of pain.
#3 How we view our singleness.
This view-point means I really do lack nothing in singleness.
I have access to every relationship that will last eternally.
#4 How we navigate boundaries in friendships as single folks.
Boundaries are confusing. I sure wish God’s Word was more explicit on that subject, but I’m guessing He stayed silent because He wants us to wrestle and fight for faithfulness in our hearts, rather than follow a law.
I tell you what though, this whole ‘sisters first’ thing has helped me navigate this.
It’s shifted the way I weigh my words and actions. Instead of running everything through the grid of ‘is this going to make someone think well of me’, I’m fighting to view my words through the lens of ‘is this the best way to build up that brother’.
It’s shifted the way I pray. More than praying for a temporary marriage, I want to be someone who prays to figure out how to invest in eternal relationships. I’m trying to shift my prayer life, and I’m praying that shift for all of us right now:
father, show us how to be better sisters. Show us how to build relationships that will last eternally.