One of my favorite games we used to play when I was a kid was Barrel of Monkeys. If you’re anywhere north of your mid-to-late-30s, you know what I’m talking about. Those of you who are younger, well, just Google it.
As I look back on it now, I find it somewhat humorous just how simple the instructions were for this particular game. Here they are:
“Dump monkeys onto table. Pick up one monkey by an arm. Hook other arm through a second monkey’s arm. Continue making a chain. Your turn is over when a monkey is dropped.”
Simple enough, right? Well, it wasn’t until I was older that I began to realize the deeper life-lessons that the game was teaching me at the time… and that is the power of relationship. You see, the thing about the game is that you could not reach the intended goal of completing the chain of monkeys if you only had one monkey to play with. I’ve since come to understand that this is a powerful life principle; it is always better working towards corporate goals within the context of relationship, whether it’s with other people, your spouse, co-workers, or a group of friends on a similar journey.
GOD WIRED US THAT WAY. We were not created to do life alone. We were never intended to live in isolation. We were not made to fly solo. In fact, we were uniquely designed to crave relationship—doing life with others.
From the very beginning, in the Genesis account of creation, we see that when God created Adam, there was an obvious void, an emptiness that even God Himself apparently could not fill in Adam’s life. Think about it, God and Adam had uninterrupted relationship together, yet in Genesis 2:18 God says something very peculiar:
“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
If ever there were a seemingly perfect formula for ultimate relational fulfillment, one would think that uninterrupted fellowship with the Divine would be it, right? However, we clearly see in this portion of Scripture that there was still an element of aloneness in man’s heart. So, God created another human being for him to enjoy doing life with. Why? Because we have been hardwired from the very beginning to desire connection with others. And nothing is more powerful than when two or more people are connected for a common cause and a singular purpose. The Apostle Paul goes to great lengths to share the power of relationship within the context of biblical community in Philippians 1:3-11. I would strongly urge you to go there and read it with fresh eyes on relationship.
In Romans 12:10 we are compelled to…
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other”(NLT)
Did you catch that? Not only are we expected to love others…. we are actually admonished to take it one step further by “honoring each other.” And not grudgingly, mind you, but to literally be delighted in doing so!
Years ago, the Salvation Army was holding an international convention and their founder, Gen. William Booth, could not attend because of physical weakness, so he cabled his convention message to them. It was one word: “OTHERS.”
What a simple, yet profound way to communicate the purpose of the organization that he had founded. The original goal of the Salvation Army was simply to serve others by meeting their needs!
The Church was established and built on this very principle. Jesus died and gave His life for “others.” He filled us with His Spirit so that we might be better equipped to reach “others.” The local church is designed to be a safe-haven from the storms of life for “others.” All of life is designed as such that it only works properly if shared with “others.”
May we continue to grow in the area of honoring the “others” in our lives, and demonstrate with even greater authenticity the Jesus-centered life. After all, the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands–Loving God and Loving Others (see Matthew 22:37-39).
Why not pause for just a moment and pray this simple prayer with me… “God, teach me to love, serve, and honor others better than I have, and help me to see the value in every person that you bring into my life. Amen!”