Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
Building relationships speaks to the heart of daily life. Good relationships are hard to form, harder to maintain, and easy to destroy. Do you find this statement true? Can you think of a time you would like to turn back the clock and treat differently a relationship that was broken?
I cringe at some of the boneheaded things I have done that made a good relationship with good people turn bad. Let me share with you some things from the Bible I have learned. Actually, this installment is the first of two. Today I will point out how bad relationships are a common problem, and then focus on the importance of love, encouragement, and respect. Next issue I will focus on accepting responsibility, breaking deadlocks, managing emotions, and prayer.
Bad Relationships: A Common Problem
The New Testament directs intense attention to rectifying relationships gone sour – among Christians!
I give one example by Paul to the church at Corinth, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ…for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1, 3).
While it is true that Paul dealt with many theological problems, and outside persecution, he suffered much grief and spent enormous amounts of time dealing with people problems – tense and riled relationships among Christians. Solving relationship problems consumed a big part of his time.
In this article, I suggest three building blocks to building relationships.
Building Block 1: Love
I have created a Bible study about love elsewhere on my website. You can turn there for more detail, but now just the introduction. Love is the starting point for good relationships. We must have the genuine interest at heart of the people we relate to, plus express sincere friendship.
Many problems in conflicted relationships involve power struggles, people feeling excluded, and the absent of brotherly affection. These problems are remedied by the expression of both agape and phileo love.
Paul described both concepts, “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for you own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:2-4).
Building Block 2: Encouragement
A major problem that retards positive relationships is criticism. Research indicates that in good relationships there is a five to one ratio in favor of positive encouragement over negative criticism. That is, for every critical remark we make, we need to offset the damage by five positive remarks. However, they need to be real and genuine – not fake or flattery.
Paul emphasized the importance of this building block: encourage, don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. He wrote, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29; cf. Colossians 4:5, 6).
Make people feel important. Use their name, be friendly, and smile. Learn to listen and understand their interests and point of view. Talk about what interests them. This will take you far in building positive relationships.
Building Block 3: Respect
If I constantly criticize you, it will eventually descend into contempt – on both our parts. The opposite response is to express respect, which is part of the process of building positive relationships. I think Paul had this concept in mind when he wrote, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).
To me, Paul describes contempt. The opposite is to show respect. He said, “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). That is showing respect. Perhaps that is why Paul instructs wives to, “respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).
Positive relationships. They are important. They can turn bad, but three building blocks are love, encouragement, and respect of the other person. Next issue I will explore with you four more building blocks. Have a great day!!
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