On Sunday, I preached a message called “What destroys relationships and what builds them.” I focused on two attitudes: selfishness destroys relationships but selflessness builds them and pride destroys relationships but humility builds them. Today and tomorrow I want to share two more attitudes that destroy and build relationships.
Insecurity destroys relationships
“The fear of human opinion disables.” Proverbs 29:25
When I’m so insecure that all I’ve got to think about is your opinion and what you think of me, that disables my life. What is the problem with that fear? What does that problem cause us to disable in relationships? Well when I’m afraid, it tends to cause us to try to control each other, and that destroys relationships.
Do you know what’s beneath that control?
Insecurity causes us to try to control others, and insecurity causes us to resist the control of others and that destroys relationships. It’s an amazing dilemma that as human beings we have. We long to be close, but we also fear being close. We want it, but we don’t want it. We long to have intimacy with others, but we are also scared to death of having intimacy with others.
Insecurity prevents intimacy. You can’t get close to somebody if there is fear in the relationship, which is why living together doesn’t work in the long run because you never know when somebody is going to walk out. There’s no lifetime commitment in that situation. It’s only in a situation where we are willing to say: “I’m committed regardless of whether we get along or not. We’re going to make this thing work” that the fear will vanish. Then the intimacy will begin to rise.
What do we fear in relationships?
Well, we fear a couple of things.
1. We fear exposure.
We fear that someone is going to find out what we’re really like. So we hide ourselves, and we don’t want people to know what we’re really like. And this is the oldest fear. It goes all the way back to Adam. In Genesis 3 verse 10, Adam says, “I was afraid because I was naked and so I hid.” When we’re afraid, we hide ourselves. We cover up. We wear masks. We pretend to be people who we’re not.
What I find very interesting in today’s world is that many people are not afraid at all of their physical nakedness. They walk around half-naked. They walk around showing off body parts that I don’t want to see and they do this with no shame at all. But the ironic thing is that they are scared to death of their emotional nakedness. That’s what really scares them.
And as a result, nobody ever gets to know them and they don’t understand that one of the things that God put them on earth to do and that is to be fully known. Everybody deserves to be fully known and to fully know somebody else. This has to do with soul-to-soul intimacy and God designed the family, the church, to do this.
2. We fear rejection.
But there is another fear that is even deeper than exposure and it is the fear of rejection. And this may be the greatest fear in human beings. We’ve all been rejected at some point, and we know how much that hurts. And so, we fear it and we close ourselves off and say, “I’ll never let anybody hurt me again,” and we build up walls.
Now maybe you have been hurt by rejection by somebody and I want to challenge you to not let that harden your heart. Don’t build up a wall. That’s a self-imposed prison that you don’t want to be in. And when we won’t let anybody get close to us because we don’t want to get hurt again we’re making a terrible mistake.
We’re not living. We’re just existing. I want to encourage you to take the risk. Have the courage to risk love again because if you do you will come alive again in a way you have never ever experienced. Ask God for the courage to take that risk again, to be open, and to be vulnerable.
Insecurity destroys relationships but love builds relationships.
“Love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we’re afraid, it shows that His love has not been perfected in us.” 1 John 4:18
How does that work? How does love expel all fear?
Here’s what it does: It takes the focus off of you and it puts the focus on another person. That’s how it makes a difference.
In any relationship, any place you feel nervous and insecure when you focus on the other person, it has the power to throw fear out of your life. And how do we find that power to focus on other people? We have to realize how much God loves us. We have to realize that He loves you more than you could ever imagine. The moment we begin to realize how much God loves us, that we don’t have to prove ourselves anymore, that we don’t have to spend our life trying to impress other people it is incredible freeing.
Do you know how freeing that is? Do you know how enjoyable it is to live life that way? All of a sudden, our identity, our self-worth, they are not caught up in what others might think of us that day. They’re now caught up in our relationship to Christ. We are not pressured by everybody else’s expectations anymore.
We all want to live with that kind of confidence but where do we get it? The Bible tells us.
“All who proclaim that Jesus is the son of God have God living in them.” 1 John 4:15-17
We know how much God loves us, and we put our trust in Him. As we live in God, our love grows more and more perfect, so we will not be afraid. This is a lifelong process. This is a journey. This is a little bit every day. If I try to have this confidence all at once, I’m going to have to fake it. That’s the only way you can do it quickly. It’s something that grows little by little every day.
If you expect complete confidence tomorrow, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. But you can grow in this. You can grow in this little by little. You can’t defeat insecurity overnight. It doesn’t happen for any of us, but you can take the first step right now. And that is beginning a relationship with Jesus Christ or strengthening you relationships with Jesus Christ. When you say yes to Jesus Christ, you’re saying yes to a kind of love that can throw fear out the back door of your life.
Have you been afraid of being real with other people so you’ve held your cards close and you’ve denied your emotions and you’ve hidden your emotional nakedness?
A book I recommend: