As I reflect on the successes and failures in my relationships, I understand how focus determines reality within them. When I sought (i.e., focused on) getting my own needs met, no lasting progress was made. But when I purposed to meet needs and to prefer others over myself, genuine connection and authentic affection resulted.
For me, this focus on others involves a genuine motivation to show I value them. In other words, if I force myself to do whatever because I know I should, the relationship lacks authenticity. But when I act out of a desire to please God, authenticity flourishes.
The Bible points toward this type of authenticity in our relationships in a variety of ways.
“Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:10)
“Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
When I read instructive verses like these, I like to list all that I am to do. It helps me focus on how to live out what God desires. For example:
- Genuinely love others by showing fond attachment, devotion, and love.
- Don’t be selfish and focus on my own reputation.
- Be humble and focus on meeting the needs of others.
- Be interested in others and care about what they are doing.
Reading about Jesus’ life and ministry (i.e., the four gospels) motivates me toward focusing on others because of the example he set of doing just that. He also loves me in these ways, and loving others similarly is a way for me to show my gratitude for what he’s done for me.