Make Room For Real RelationshipsJon Burgess
1Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. 2Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. 3I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 2 Corinthians 7:1-3
Paul is calling us to priortize what we make room for in our lives. We only have so many minutes in an hour, so many hours in a day, so many days in a month, months in a year. Why do we spend so much of it focused on what we don't like about each other? We only have so much room in our hearts. Our emotional and mental capacity is finite. Whatever we spend the most time thinking over and talking about is what is taking up that very limited room in our hearts. So, "since we have these promises" that God will dwell with us, receive us, and move us to holiness, anything that doesn't help us do that doesn't deserve room in our hearts- doesn't deserve our attention, affection, energy, time. Then Paul gets down to brass tacks- the Corinthians have believed lies, have clung to resentments and have filled their hearts with unforgiveness towards him and his pastoral team. There was no room left in their hearts for real relationships because they had filled every square inch with falsehoods, conspiracies and unforgiveness. Despite all of this Paul models for us the correct response to rejection and accusation: "I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such place in our hearts that we would live or die with you." Paul had to consciously choose to make room in his heart towards the Corinthians. He had recieved such a download in his heart for them that he would lay his life down for them. You don't say that about someone you are mad at or angry with. Instead of choosing a defensive posture, instead of choosing a passive posture, instead of choosing to be offended, Paul chose to be fierce in his friendship. He would not give up on his relationships no matter how easy it would have been to walk away after what they had said about him. He allowed his heart to be filled with love and removed everything else that didn't belong through the power of forgiveness.
Recently I moved our family into a house one-third the size of where we had lived previously. This was great news for the budget and bad news for all the "stuff" we had accumulated. There simply is no room for anything but essential things in our new home. No matter much I wanted this picture, that chair, those collectables, if it wasn't essential for real life living we had to get rid of it or store it. I think we need to do this with whats in our hearts. Over this past election cycle our hearts have been filled to capacity with agonizing dissapointements, accusations from all sides, divided relationships, and unfiltered vitriol. We would do wise to take a page from Paul and empty out the house of our hearts from anything that isn't helping heal real relationships. If we hold on to unforgiveness, this unforgiveness will hold on to us. Bitterness starts with a closet, but it's intent is to run the whole castle and rule our relationships with an iron fist. The only way we can move from division to unity in our relationships is to be wise stewards of the square footage of our soul. Anything that doesn't line up with Christ's unconditional love gets kicked to the curb! Let's be fierce in our friendships and forgiving of the grievances against us. This will make room for what matters most- real relationships!
Lord, I didn't realize until reading this that I have been holding on to unforgiveness. It's not takng up my whole heart yet, but it's certainly on the move to do so. I don't want my love to grow cold, calculated, and condemning. Love needs sunlight, air and room to grow. So, I'm opening up the windows, pulling back the curtains, and removing all this bitterness that has become like so much rubbish filling the halls of my heart! I put them in Your hands and ask that You would give me your love for those who have hurt me. Help me to see them the way You do! Thank You for showing me Your heart!