What Causes Destroyed Relationships?
by Ernest O'Neill
This is an excerpt from a longer talk, "Building Relationships" .
Finally, over the years, that's what destroys these relationships. It's your desire to make the other person what you think they should be. That's why so few of us have deep friendships and so many of us have superficial acquaintances. It’s because we won't extend to our closest friends and our dearest partners, the same freedom to be themselves that we extend to casual acquaintances. We won't. We demand that they be what we think they should be and the result is we destroy our close relationships and this is what the power of evil in the world is after. He doesn't want close relationships. He doesn't want loving friendships. He doesn't want husbands and wives or fathers and mothers or sons and daughters that are close to each other. He wants them to be separated. He wants only superficial acquaintances so that he can continue to divide and conquer.
So the thing that destroys most of our close relationships and friendships is simply this desire we have that the other person should be and will be, and it is our job to make them what we think they ought to be. Moses, you remember had a brother called Aaron whom God had given him to be his spokesman because Moses was not eloquent and through all the plagues in Egypt, all the troubles with Pharaoh, Aaron and his sister Miriam were close to Moses. When the Israelites defeated the Amalekites, it was Aaron that held up Moses' hands for hours so that the battle would prevail for the Israelites. Yet there came a time in their relationship when they too fell into this old evil. You'll find it in Numbers 12:1.
How people in the past destroyed relationships
"Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman," -- that was it. So they were very close to Moses and went through all kinds of trials with him and yet there came a time in their relationship with Moses when they fell into the old trap that spoils our relationships. They started to talk to one another about Moses and they started to point the finger at him.
Now you might say, "Well, yes that was obviously wrong. I mean Moses could marry whomever he wished. They had no right to do that, that's plain and obvious." But actually no, from Abraham's day, God had forbidden the Israelites to marry anybody but an Israelite, and certainly forbidden them to marry the Cushites. So, actually, the strange thing is that Aaron and Miriam were right in what they were pointing at, it was wrong. What they were saying was wrong with Moses, was wrong according to what God had shown the Israelites and according to their law.
Something wrong in people’s spirits
Isn't it strange that still God struck Miriam temporarily with leprosy? It was not only because they were opposing the leader that God had appointed in Moses, but also there was something wrong in their spirit. You see that in that next verse in verse 2, "And they said, 'Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?' And the Lord heard it. Now, the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth." There was something wrong in their spirit. That's what destroys a relationship.
Actually you can be right. You can be absolutely right in what you see to be wrong in your partner or your friend or your roommate or your colleague at business. You can be absolutely right in what you see, but yet God regards it as a leprous thing for you to begin to point the finger at them, for you to take to yourself the responsibility for making them what you think they should be.
Have you tried to change them by the way you speak to them? Have you? Have you tried to compel them to change by the way you don't speak to them? You know it. We take to ourselves this responsibility and it's what destroys the relationship. It doesn't matter whether you are talking about husband-wife, father-son, brother-sister, woman and woman, or man and man relationships. It doesn't matter. That's what spoils our relationships. We subtly, by our own psychological pressures, take it upon ourselves to make the other person what they should be.