a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not." (Isaiah 53:3)
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thes 5:16-18)
Prayer is that constant conversation - both listening and speaking - to God. First and foremost, though - it's acknowledging God's presence. It's the first step in esteeming God. There are many other scriptures in this same line of thinking. The Bible's packed with messages for people to open their eyes to the very real presence of God.
Noticing, acknowledging, and esteeming God - easy to comprehend - but difficult to do. And it gets harder...
What does the Bible say about esteeming people? Well, look at these often quoted scriptures - and look for the idea of "esteeming" within them:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Luke 10:27)
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
When we esteem others - we esteem God. When we esteem God, we esteem others. Funny how that works. When we notice and acknowledge others - we can open our eyes and notice God too. And what we actually do for others - in a practical sense - is what we do for God. And that movement towards action is love. In some ways - it's that simple. But love carries a cross - simple to understand, difficult to follow. Thankfully, we don't follow on our own merit - but on God's work! So, as we stumble along - His work is good enough - His grace is sufficient. But - that's a whole other topic...
It's blatantly obvious that God wants us to love people. The first step in loving others is to esteem others.
Turning the focal point onto the people in our lives, it's very clear that the relationships that we lose over time are the ones that we esteem not. We might get busy, we might move out of the area, we might have major conflict, and we might have completely different goals. Whatever the case, we begin to not esteem our friend - we esteem them not. Ultimately, as time goes by, we lose contact with them and we lose the closeness we used to have.
I've seen this countless times in my relationships. I might have the closest friendship ever - but - over time and distance, the person that I'm friends with slowly exits my thoughts and my mind. They're always my friend, but the real relationship slowly disappears. Sometimes, I'll scratch my head, and think, "Whatever happened to so and so..."
This happens to many families as well. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter become the only time that a family might come together in the entire year. Some esteem their families not.
I know one of my personal problems is that I avoid conflict like the plague. In that avoidance, I'll avoid the actual person - friend - or family member. This creates a bit of a separation - even in my mind - about the other individual. That separation creates a break in the relationship - and I end up esteeming them not. It's not their fault - it's mine.
So - what do I do about this issue? How do I personally esteem my friends? My family?
Well - I'm learning that I first need to acknowledge them - notice them. Just like with God. I think that might be the first step. Often - I don't acknowledge my friends/family - unless they're in my face. That'll have to change if I ever want to have long-suffering type relationships.
A word the Bible uses often - especially in the Old Testament - is a simple word that drives this point home - remember.
I need to remember my friends, my family. It's so easy to disappear into my own agenda - into my own mind. There is definitely a long process of refining that I need to go through - but - writing these thoughts down is part of the process for me.
So - these are the words I'm working on in this long walk home:
May I learn to esteem God, and others - and through that, may I learn how to love better.
Have a great day!