We all put up walls in our relationships sometimes. Why? Because we feel the need to protect and defend ourselves against hurt feelings and rejection. But it is the walls that shut out our happiness and destroy our relationships, whether they are with spouses, friends, relatives, or co-workers. We build walls to protect ourselves but are miserable when the walls are there. Still, we are afraid to tear down the walls because we are afraid of what will happen if we do. We are afraid of being weak and vulnerable.
We think keeping up walls will protect us, but what they really do is shut out our happiness. They make you feel isolated, estranged from others. Walls are easy to build, but hard to bring down and hard to maintain because it is difficult and miserable to be around the people you have built walls against.
In Joshua, Chapter 6, Joshua and the Israelites successfully brought down the mighty walls of Jericho with God’s powerful hand. While their objective was to conquer the city, our goal of bringing down walls is not to conquer anyone, but to claim happiness. While the story of Jericho’s walls is literal and physical, the lessons we can learn from it can help us to successfully tear down our emotional walls and claim our happiness.
1. Do it God’s way.
God instructed Joshua and the Israelites to march around the city of Jericho once a day for six days and then seven times on the seventh day. Until the last lap was completed on the seventh day, no one was allowed to speak or make a sound with their voices while marching around the city. The priests were to carry the Ark of the Covenant and blow their trumpets.
You can imagine what the Israelites must have been thinking when they received these instructions. What kind of military strategy is this? What other army has ever won a battle this way? We will look stupid and silly doing this. We will look weak and vulnerable. What if Jericho has archers on the walls and they shoot arrows at us while we are marching? What if we get hurt while doing this? Aren’t some of these questions the same ones that we are afraid of when dealing with our emotional walls?
Even though it may have seemed crazy, the Israelites did as God commanded, and they won the victory. On the seventh day, after the seventh lap around the city, God told the people to shout, and the walls came tumbling down.
If we do as God instructs us, we too will win the victory and claim our happiness. So, what is God instructing us to do with our walls.
Love anyway and love much
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
How has Jesus loved us? He has loved us even though we don’t deserve it. He has loved us in spite of all our faults, in spite of all the bad things we have thought, said, and done. He has loved us anyway, so we should love the people in our lives anyway.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)
Let’s try to stir up loving behavior in one another instead of provoking one another to act badly.
“Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:8)
If love never fails, this means it ALWAYS wins. If you want to win, love is your answer.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” (I John 4:18)
If you want to break down the wall between you and another, you should not fear the results. Do it through love, and you will be rewarded.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Show kindness and forgiveness whether someone deserves it or not, because that is what God has done for you. Most of the time when you have a wall between you and another, that other person is just as miserable as you are, and all it takes is for one person in the relationship to have the courage to step out and show kindness, and the walls come tumbling down!
2. Practice the golden rule
“And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31)
So much of the time, we maintain walls with people because “he/she did or didn’t do such and such for me, so why should I for them? When we learn to treat all people the way WE would want to be treated, we prevent the need for walls.
A good way to practice the golden rule is to follow this advice:
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interets, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-5)
3. Include God
The Israelite men of war were instructed to march around Jericho with the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant, which represented God’s presence.(Joshua 6:3-8) When you make up your mind to break down a wall between you an another person, you should definitely allow God’s presence to be with you. Pray about the situation and ask God to be with you when you approach this other person. Ask God to show you what to say. Ask God to show you how to love the other person properly. With God’s presence, you cannot go wrong.
“Then he said to Him, ‘If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us?'” (Exodus 33:15-16)
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, n or shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, th e Holy One of Israel, your Savior…fear not, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 43:2-5)
4. Be quiet and listen to the Holy Spirit
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Oftentimes when we build walls in our relationships with others, we are constantly hearing the voices in our heads about what “I should have or should not have done, and what that person should and should not have done.” Instead of listening to these voices that can drive us crazy, we should be quiet and listen to the voice of God. Let God comfort you, give you peace, and give you wisdom and good judgment about how to bring the wall down.
5. Mind your words.
The words that come out of your mouth can make a huge difference in either building or breaking down walls. One wrong word can destroy a relationship, while one kind word can melt down the walls that stand between you and another.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
“Let your speech always be seasoned with grace, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:6)
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” (James 1:19)
6. Be patient
It took patience to march around the city Of Jericho every day and then seven times in one day on the seventh day! Tearing down walls in our relationships cannot always happen overnight. Sometimes, it takes patience.
“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4)
Before the Israelites had ever begun the march around Jericho, God had promised them victory.
And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.'” (Joshua 6:2)
God also promises that if you do things His way, He will give you victory in tearing down your walls and claiming happiness. Love never fails—that means it always wins! You can take confidence in this. When you do things God’s way, you will be victorious, and God will give you plenty to rejoice about!
“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5-6)
Make up your mind today to break down the wall you may have between yourself and another. Ask God to show you how to do it in love. Use kind and wise words. Be patient. Let God control the situation, and soon enough you will be rejoicing and claiming your happiness.