Godly Men Are Relational Men

My title is a bold statement that some men dislike. They argue with me, dismiss the truths the statement holds or  can’t be bothered to spend the few minutes of introspection the statement invites. They maintain that they can be godly while maintaining almost no relationships. And they argue with what the word ‘godly’ represents, what lifestyle it describes.

This post is my attempt to defend the truths of the statement that is my title. Let me start with one of the summaries the Apostle Paul gives us of a person who could be considered to be pursing a godly life.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22

The chapter this verse is found in also contains a list of characteristics that oppose these listed in verse 22. Those are found in verses 19-21. Paul makes the conclusion about those who practice the ‘negative’  list in verses 19-20 – ‘they will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.’ They are ungodly characteristics and are practiced by ungodly people. It is important to note that he is emphasizing the ‘practice’ or ‘habit’ of those characteristics and not the occasional slip up. 

The fact about both these lists is that they are both lists of characteristics we exercise in the context of relationships. Look at them carefully. None of these things happens outside a relationship. Some are more descriptive of our relationship with God but all of them also pertain to our relationships with people.

With this in mind, let’s consider some true things about the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ and how bearing that fruit can only happen in the context of relationships.

Consider these statements:

  • Love, joy, peace, patience, and all the other ‘fruits of the Spirit’ are tested and practiced in the context of relationships. There is no other ‘proving ground’, so to speak.
  • We cannot define love outside the context of relationship.
  • Relationships are the testing ground of kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and, in fact, all the characteristics of godliness. 
  • Everything we do involves God or people. We may think that when we are in our garage alone, enjoying our hobbies – Or out on the lake – Or in our workshops or hiking trails – that we are not influencing any people or our relationship with God. Not true. Enjoyment of excessive “alone-ness” is often a warning sign that we have neglected the relationships that enable the Spirit to create fruit within us.
  • Everything we know about God is relational. The fact that He communicates is relational. The reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit is relational. The earthy ministry of Jesus was relational. His desire to dwell with us, to prepare a place for us, to call us to Him, to sustain us, to provide for us, to give us gifts, to express His love in a thousand ways every day, is all relational.
  • Relationships demand communication. Many men think that if they provide materially for their families, their job is done. Anyone can send money to a stranger. They can even give enough to sustain someone for their entire life, and do it anonymously. That is not a relationship. But many men do little more than bring their paycheck home and count it as relationship. (This is only one example of how men excuse themselves from relationship, there are many more)
  • Without relationships, we bear no fruit. Without fruit, we cannot prove for ourselves that we really belong to God. Bearing fruit is the evidence that the Spirit of God is conforming us to the likeness of Jesus.
  • God craves relationships. It’s an inherent part of His nature. A surface reading of the Bible makes this impossible to deny.

I could go on but I think the point is made. Without relationships, we cannot be godly. We cannot imitate Jesus. We cannot be said to be reflecting our Creator or His characteristics.

Take Home Thoughts

I think this is enough for one post.It’s heavy, especially for those who lean toward being introverted, and most especially for those who are disconnected (Men {or women} who are unaware that they are relationally and emotionally unavailable to those around them). Nonetheless, it’s true. We cannot practice godliness without practicing relationships. Let’s meditate on this until next post.

Don’t be mistaken, a disconnected man is a man living in sin, unintentionally hurting those close to him. If you’re just coming to the realization you are disconnected or looking for more insight on how to connect better with others, make sure to pick up my book and learn about my personal journey The Disconnected Man.