I don’t know where the rumor started about relationships being 50/50, but it’s not true. I’ve studied many relationships in Scripture, and I don’t see a directive that indicates anything about 50/50. Give and take? Yes, of course. Meeting each other halfway with a perfectly balanced compromise? No.
I’m not recommending unhealthy relationships where one person always yields to the whims of the other. But I’m encouraging you to take an honest, realistic look at your relationships and your attitudes toward what you deserve, need, and want. Perhaps you keep a record of who has compromised to what degree across situations. If you gave up something big in one situation, you want the other person to give up something big next time. You operate on the favor system. Or perhaps you just default to yielding because it’s easier. You operate on the avoidance system. Or you want your way all the time—not because (you think) you’re selfish but because you just know better. You have the best solution, and why satisfy yourself with a less-than-great solution? You operate on the best-only system.
The value of “the best” isn’t determined by the outcome of the situation. It’s determined by the growth of the relationship. Involving others, even when it means settling for something a bit less than what you have in mind, is more important than the outcome. Respect is more important than success. In fact, respect is success. Perhaps the problem is that we personally define success instead of letting God define it. Perhaps the problem is that we personally define compromise in relationships instead of letting God define it.
Any single relationship isn’t 50/50. Both people in great relationships—marriages, friendships, and so on—will usually declare he/she got the best end of the deal. Both evaluate benefiting more than 50% of the time, but 50+ and 50+ combine for more than 100%. It’s more about the perception than the reality, because who can really define the benefits and costs of the relationship—except God? While God defines and directs our individual relationships, he keeps the big picture of our relationships as a whole. He knows what we need relationally, because he created us for relationships. He knows one relationship you have is going to feel a bit needy. You’re going to give way more than you will ever receive through it, but there will also be a relationship that you have the capacity to receive much more than you will ever give. Of course, sometimes we don’t completely trust through God’s guidance and provision. We’re more comfortable giving than receiving, so we don’t get the balance he intends. We then wonder why we’re exhausted. Perhaps you need to improve in asking for help and acknowledging your need for support and encouragement.
In addition to the balance across different relationships, sometimes individual relationships seem imbalanced but are balanced over time. We might have a friendship that seems primarily giving but what we don’t see is a time in the future when we’ll need to be still and accept the other person’s generosity through a time of need. We can’t demand paybacks, but we can trust that God is just and, in our obedience, he is faithful to provide the balance of relationships we need, including both opportunities to sacrificially give and abundantly receive.
Consider your relationship with God. How 50/50 is it? God models relationship with us. He exists in relationship, and he created us for relationship. Our relationship with him is certainly not 50/50. (1) He created us. (2) He provides for us while we’re here on earth. (3) He sacrificed his Son to make a way for us to live with him in eternity. And what do we do? Seek him and respond in obedience—and we don’t even do that well much of the time! It doesn’t seem very balanced to me, but it must seem that way to God, because he designed it that way. Trust his guidance and provision. He knows what he’s doing.
LORD, I trust you. I have said, “You are my God.” (Psalm 31:14)
God’s family is certainly not exempt from hurt, including the hurts that come from within. People in churches are just as vulnerable to unjustly criticize, gossip, neglect, and offend one another as anyone else. It’s true that God sets us apart to reflect his image to the world, but to believe Christ-followers are perfect representations of Jesus will, to say the least, lead to disappointment. What (should) set Christ-followers apart from the world is how they deal with one another to heal the hurt. Will they do the hard work it takes to unite or will they further divide into quarreling, backbiting, judgmental factions? Which will you choose? Welcome to Healing the Hurt, a 10-post series to help hurting communities cope in biblical ways.