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This past fall I spent time with family in the mountains of New Mexico. We shared work, food, and conversation, and in doing so, came to know each other better. We used Talking Point questions ( to dig deep and uncover the uniqueness of who we all are and came away from this time encouraged and refreshed.

As human beings, we are eager for these kinds of rich relational interactions because we are made in the image of a relational God. Yet if we are to understand and pursue relationships rightly, we need to take our cues for relationship from the One who created us to be like Him.

God’s covenant or relational name is Jehovah (LORD), a name and truth He revealed about Himself from the beginning. Genesis 2 with its account of creation is replete with references to God as Jehovah:

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven. Now no shrub of the field was yet on the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living person. The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Genesis 2:4-8

It was in the garden, the perfect environment for man, that Jehovah God walked with and interacted with Adam and Eve. While Scripture is silent about how long this fellowship lasted, it is very clear about the ways in which sin interrupted the communion of that perfect relationship between God and His creatures. The brokenness that followed extended to human relationships as well. By its very nature, sin destroyed, and continues to destroy, relationships both in the earthly and in the spiritual realms.

It was as Jehovah that God pronounced the consequences for sin (Genesis 3:14-19), and it was as Jehovah that God made the first provision for sin (Genesis 3: 21). His slaying of an animal provided the covering that Adam and Eve needed, and by taking this action, God as Jehovah demonstrated His commitment to reinstate a relationship with sinning man. Arthur Pink, a pastor in the early twentieth century, explains the significance of God’s act:

It was the first Gospel sermon, preached by God Himself, not in words but in symbol and action. It was a setting forth of the way by which a sinful creature could return unto and approach his holy Creator. . . . It was a blessed illustration of substitution—the innocent dying in the stead of the guilty.

Scripture also records the first formal covenant enacted between Jehovah God and His people, the one He made with Abraham (Genesis 15). In order to understand the significance of this institution between a holy God and sinning man, we must understand the practice of covenant making.

When covenants were made in the ancient Near East, the two parties would kill an animal, cut it in half, and then both of them would walk between the two halves. It was a solemn and symbolic way for each person to say to the other: “If I break this covenant, may the same thing happen to me. May I be destroyed if I don’t keep this covenant.”

In entering into covenant with Abraham, Jehovah God walked alone between the pieces of the slaughtered animal while Abraham slept (Genesis 15:12-18). In this covenant agreement, God made a commitment to His people that He alone would keep. When His people broke the covenant, He paid the price. This price was paid in full by the death of His Son, Jesus, and it is through Him that we are restored to relationship with Jehovah God and to each other.

How then can we understand our relationships in light of His example? As those created in His image, how can we image Him accurately in our relationships?

These kinds of relationships—the highest expressions of love—are sacrificial. In order to emulate His example, we must remember that we are saved by the cost He paid (1 Peter 1:17-21). We must also remember that we are called to finish His work by entering into relationships in sacrificial ways (John 15:12-14).

In practical terms, this means that we as women are to love our husbands and children (Titus 2:4-5), our neighbors (James 2:8), and even our enemies (Matthew 5: 43-48). We must love even when people don’t “deserve it,” for in doing so we image the love we have received from Jesus when we didn’t deserve it.

Questions for personal reflection:

  1. Who is God asking me to love sacrificially?
  2. How is He asking me to love sacrificially?
  3. Loving an enemy may be one of God’s hardest assignments for us. Luke 6:27-28 tells us how to do this well: “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”  Take a few moments to identify someone you think of as an enemy.

•   Confess your lack of love for this person and ask God to give you His love for them.

•   Take the following practical steps of obedience as an outward expression of that love.

      • Make a list of how you can do good to this individual.
      • Ask God to prepare your words so that you are able to return blessing for cursing. Write out what He wants you to communicate when He gives you the opportunity to speak to this individual.
      • Make a list of Scriptures that you will pray for this person and then faithfully follow through on this commitment.

Remember His exhortation to us: “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”  (Ephesians 5:1-2).