Acceptance, cooperation versus rejection and despitefully using others are the two fundamental opposites in this Biblical perspective. Understanding these two sides of the relationship coin help us understand Biblical thinking to mutual relationships. The result can be a clear view of how God can work in the Christ believer to bring wholeness. The love of God can be exercised by this wisdom.
The first three sections following will not hold many surprises. However, the fourth section called "despitefully using" will have a unique application worth remembering.
Acceptance is self defining. But, on what basis does God accept us and upon what bases do we accept each other?
We can accept God on faith. That faith is inspired by His gracious activity. He accepts people on the basis of their faith in Him through relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. In the first three commandments, in the great commandment of Deuteronomy 6:5, God commands us to love Him. This is acceptance. He explains in many verses throughout the Bible how He loves His faithful.
Christ told us that people would know we were His disciples by our love for one another. There is a Holy Spirit within the Christ believer that becomes what we call a "kindred spirit" that creates affinity among believers. "Do you love Jesus? Well then, you love the Jesus in me. Give me a hug."
Aside from relationship through mutual belief in Christ, people find other reasons to accept one another. Mutual respect, shared interests, mutual physical attraction, mutual goals, mutual friends, honored accomplishments, admiration of talent, and so on.
Acceptance forms the basis of cooperation. Cooperation is also a self defining term. We decide to cooperate with those we accept. The Bible might say, we "walk together" because we are agreed. Christ tells us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. Keeping them is a form of cooperation. Keeping the Ten Commandments, loving others as ourselves, and all of the other commandments are a form of cooperation with God.
There are many ways we cooperate with others whom we accept. As partners in marriage, in business, in politics, in social functions, in class rooms, etc.
The basis of all of these is acceptance upon the basis of the worth of the other person.
Rejection is self defining. But, on what basis does God reject and upon what bases do we reject others. On God's part, He describes His rejection on the basis of jealousy. In the 20th chapter of Exodus, through Moses, God tells us that He is a jealous God. He is jealous because He loves the world (John 3:16,17). So, God has offered His love to all mankind but has been rejected by so many of them.
Despising in Biblical terms simply means to set at no value. It does not necessarily mean hating another person. Although, in modern terms, despising is often the same as hating. For this writing, despising is just setting at no value for any reason. Rejection is a result of despising. Often, despising comes from valuing an alternate. So, we may despise God in favor of elevating ourselves in pride.
People reject God by reason of proud disobedience on the belief that this will allow them to pursue life under self control. Thus, the love of God is spurned because loving God in return means cooperating with Him through obedience.
People reject others on the bases of the opposite conclusions Lack of mutual respect, no shared goals or values, etc. The list of reasons for rejection are as long as the list of reasons for acceptance.
The opposite of cooperation is despitefully using. Remember, we are saying that despising simply means setting at no value, not necessarily hating.
If people reject one another for any reason does not necessarily mean they dismiss the useful interaction with them to gain some advantage. This often happens in business and politics but can also happen in marriage, like marrying another for their money.
We might say that this is actually a cooperation for mutual self interest. Enemies could be said to be cooperating for temporary reasons.
However, this is a Biblical viewpoint. The Bible clearly discusses relationships in terms of love at various levels and rejection, of obedience and disobedience.
People often try to relate to God in order to take advantage of the power of the Creator. They ask blessing of Him without commitment to loving obedience to Him. What they have in mind sets no value upon the Person of God but only upon the capabilities of God. That is despitefully using God.
When people despitefully use each other, they may reject the value of the other person for some reason. Perhaps the other person has hurt them in the past or has a history of being untrustworthy. But, they appreciate what this other person does or can do for them in a practical way and so they appeal to the other one, pretending to respect or love so as to access the benefits the other provides. This is despitefully using.
When we discover we are being so used, we may simply say, "This person is just using me." Often, we reject further relationship or cooperation with the other who does this to us. But, what if this exists in a marriage?
Jesus said for His believers to pray for those who despitefully use us. That is a form of loving the one who has set us at no value. Only the gracious work of the Holy Spirit within the Christ believer can perform such a tremendous task. The Holy Spirit must be allowed to do so because this is a way of cooperating with Christ even in the face of rejection by the other person.
Thus, the Christ believer can be lifted above the normal frailty of human pride and enabled to wholeness in the strength of being loved by God through Jesus Christ.