Life At Its Best: Living a covenant life
Contracts are a normal part of business. They signify an agreement between two parties to perform specified obligations. When both parties perform their responsibilities, the contract stands; however, if one person breaches the agreement, the other can walk out.
A contract is completely different than a covenant. Unlike a contract, in a covenant relationship, there's no calling it quits. It's not a conditional promise based on sufficient performance; it's an unconditional commitment to remain faithful.
I learned the value of a covenant relationship while playing football with my brother and his friends. We were ahead by only a few points, and the other team had the ball. They hiked it, and my opponent dashed toward the end zone. He started to pass me, so I did what any great defender would have done - I tripped him.
He quickly got up and sprinted my direction. I was prepared for a serious beat down; however, to my surprise, my brother came and stood between us. He said, "If you mess with him, you're messing with me." After hurling a few insults, the boy left.
I was so relieved. I didn't deserve for someone stick up for me. My brother could've left me to suffer the consequences of my decision. But thankfully, he didn't. He chose to stick by me.
That's not to say he didn't address my actions. He let me know I did wrong. But he also assured me that my mistakes would never change his commitment to me as my brother.
Those are the kinds of relationships God desires us all to have. He wants them to be based not on performance but on a passion to stand by and support each other. That doesn't mean we're to ignore wrong actions.
We all are challenged from time to time, but we must remember that no one's perfect. We all have problems. And when we learn to love each other despite those problems, we begin building covenant relationships that bring forth God's best.
1 Corinthians gives us the characteristics of a love that leads to those kinds of relationships. The first thing it says our love should provide is protection. We're called to have each other's backs. We must be willing to shield each other from wrong people or decisions that cause harm.
This may require speaking up about things that could bring danger. It takes courage and can often be a little uncomfortable. But to truly love, we must become a source of safety and protection for our loved ones.
Then, not only are we to protect, but we're to persevere. There is no perfect friend. Everyone makes mistakes and will disappoint us at times. But we can't let imperfections keep us from forming lasting relationships. Instead, we must live committed to believing in and standing with each other in every season.
What kind of relationships are you building? I encourage you to build covenant relationships, not contractual ones. Commit to protecting and persevering. Let right connections lead you to better destinations.
Jim Graff is the Senior Pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. faithfamilyvictoria.com.