10 September 2010

Question of the Week:
Relationship Priorities?

by Anne Lang Bundy

“Should you go to the person who needs you more or the person you love?”
~ Renatta Szukhent, Michigan

We are to love everyone. Everyone has needs we can meet. And the Bible's directions on how we respond to others is usually put in the context of relationship. So let’s look at priorities with one another based on relationship.

The greatest commandment gives God primary priority. Only when we first love Him with all heart, soul, mind, and strength are we able to truly love others or effectively minister to them.

The second commandment says love neighbor as self. Like the airline directive to don your own oxygen mask before assisting others, nurturing our own souls in God’s Word, Spirit and love enables us to love others equally.

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
~ Philippians 2:4 (NKJV)

Here are priorities set by the Bible:

First: Spouse (with whom we’re one flesh, part of “self”) –
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
(Ephesians 5:28-29 NKJV;
also see Matthew 19:4-6 & 1 Corinthians 6:18)

Second: Immediate Household (parents and children) –
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
(1 Timothy 5:8 NKJV;
also see Ephesians 6:1-3 & 2 Corinthians 12:14)

Third: Household of Faith (Christians; called “brother” or “brethren”) –
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
(Galatians 6:10 NKJV;
also see Ephesians 4:1-6 & Romans 12:4-5)

Last: All Unbelievers (as the Lord brings them into our lives) –
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all ...
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 NKJV;
also see 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 & Luke 10:29-37)

[LATE ADDENDUM TO POST: – There is actually one more category of people the Bible places after this: the person who claims to be a Christian but lives in flagrant and continuing immorality, committing serious sin without repentance, bringing disgrace to the name of Christ.
See Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.]

The unbeliever might seem to have greater need for love and ministry than the believer, but the Bible gives preference to other Christians, with whom we are to be united.

We might seem judgmental to categorize others as "Christian" or "unbeliever," but the Bible makes that distinction, and also between "judgment" which condemns and "discernment" which protects.

No one is able to meet all the needs of others, no matter how close their relationship. The Lord alone is able to meet all human need. Maintaining a close relationship with the Lord enables us to discern how He desires to meet their needs through us.

And incidently, even God needs us—He needs the praise, worship, and fellowship which flow naturally out of our love for Him.

: : :

When she posed the above question, Renatta also asked about the difference between religion and spirituality. Next week's Q&A will tackle this.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source: 21stcenturystrategiesinc.com


  1. I've always wrestled with convicting feelings about the second. I have my own family now, but how much does that include my sister...and what a can of worms that opens...

    ~ Wendy

  2. I apologize if my attempt at brevity was misleading. The Bible accords priority to parents and children. Siblings are considered part of a person's household only while they are children, or when a widowed (or perhaps otherwise single) woman returns to her father's house. I would give priority to siblings according to their status as a Christian, an unbeliver, or the person who claims to be a believer but discredits the name of Christ (a category added late to the post).

    I have family members outside my immediate household of all three categories. My love for my siblings is more powerful than for anyone else in those three categories. I truly understand what it is to struggle with how to apply the priorities outlined in the Bible when love is so overwhelming and long-standing.

  3. ahhhh. this is an area that i've really struggled with this week but in relationship with love concerning another believer. there's a question concerning sin in his life that is quite unsettling to say the least. he has asked for my help which in turn helps others in their great need. i don't know for certain whether or not the accusations against this brother are true or not. if it is true, not only is he giving life to others...but he is also destroying lives. as a victim of what he is accused of...the "love" just isn't there on my end of it. it involves children...

  4. btw...my dilemma is: how can i help him? should i limit my help to only prayer? a pastor/friend/missionary told me once. the ends don't/doesn't justify the means. there's a catch in my spirit. i don't have peace in helping him but i don't know where it's coming from. is it because i'm so close to this. don't know all the details. the pedophile from my childhood was disguised himself as a christian. this involves an old/single missionary...

  5. Bud ~

    If I understand you correctly, you are being asked to assist another Christian with a worthwhile ministry to children, but you are aware of accusations against him which make him unfit to be around children.

    Credible accusations should be taken seriously until either proven or disproven. I believe you have a responsibility to share what you know with an authority over this man and ask for further investigation. If he is guilty, accountability is appropriate. If he is innocent, he should have his name cleared.

    As far as the ministry, I believe we live in an era when it is unwise to have adult men minister to children alone. They are best accompanied by another responsible adult, so that there is no opportunity for either inappropriate behavior or unfounded accusations. It seems the best thing you could do—both while waiting for any accusations to be investigated, and after his name might be cleared—is to do all you can to assist him and/or ask for assistance so that he doesn't minister to children alone.

    Many churches have policies of doing background checks on anyone involved with children's ministry. It may seem like an extreme measure, but as pedophilia becomes an increasing menace, I think all churches have a responsibility to take sufficient measures to protect the children entrusted to them.

    "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." (Luke 17:2 NKJV)

  6. I like the Bibles hierarchy of love. Thank you for sharing Anne!

  7. T ~

    When you use the word "hierarchy," it occurs to me that our present privilege is as children of the Father, but will one day be consummated as bride of the King.

  8. It seems to difficult a concept to wrap my head around. We must be purified to a incomprehensible degree toe ever be in such a place of privilege to either be a child or a bride. Who are we really that He esteems us so highly?

  9. T ~

    We're nobodies. Precious, beloved, esteemed-by-Almighty-God nobodies.

    Which makes us more than somebody. Amazing.

  10. Thanks for sharing this sis.

  11. Denise ~

    Thanks for being here.