Read The Relationship Project: Moving from ‘You and Me’ to ‘We’ . In this book, Dr. Bill Strom addresses relational loyalty in Chapter 6: “Committed Faithfulness as More Than Good Intentions”.
“A deacon must be faithful to his wife…” 1 Timothy 3:12a
A few years ago I began studying faithfulness as a virtue we exercise with people close to us, especially our spouses. I found that most think faithfulness means being sexually loyal, not messing around, and remaining exclusively devoted to just one person. That’s a precious meaning.
But I also discovered two other dimensions, specifically mental and emotional fidelity. Being mentally faithful means stopping our thoughts from wandering into wondering—I wonder if life with that person would be better? Or I wonder if sex with him/her would be amazing? Of course such thoughts might flit across the screen of our minds without warning, so the question is whether we stay for the whole movie or make attempts to leave the darkened room.
Dwelling on mental unfaithfulness can lead to emotional infidelity, or allowing ourselves to lean on others too deeply for their support to cope with life. Most devastating is if we start sharing our marital problems with a sympathetic opposite-sex friend or colleague. All too easily his or her listening ear and warmly offered advice seem like the solution to our own relational problems, and crossing the line into sexual betrayal is tempting.
When Jesus commanded us to love God with our mind, heart and strength, I think he was telling us to steward our whole person. He could just as well have said I want you to steward your thoughts, emotions, and body. I ask that you bring all these gifts under my Lordship so you may exercise fidelity not only with me, but also with people closest to you.
Dear God, you have given me this life. Help me give it back to you as a gift of faithfulness with people I love. Amen.
Remind someone today that you are faithfully committed. If you have stumbled, ask God to forgive you. Ask a friend to keep you accountable toward faithfulness.
How are you stewarding your thought life and heart life? Are you checking your wandering from wondering?