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Happy relationships make life sweet, but not everyone knows how to establish and maintain them. When we look around us, sometimes good role models can be hard to find, and some of the relationships we see aren’t the healthy kind we’d want to duplicate. Just because people live together under the same roof doesn’t mean they automatically get along. It’s no accident that solid, stable relationships that endure are biblically-based.
By purposefully studying relationships that edify and encourage everyone involved, we can learn from them and apply what we learn. This is one way to gain wisdom about constructive and destructive family dynamics, and how they can either build us up or tear us down. Conversely, when we’re surrounded by dysfunctional relationships, we can eventually become numb to the resulting emotional and spiritual damage. “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble” (Proverbs 13:20, NLT).
Living together isn’t always easy, and sometimes arguments and disputes can break out. Occasional disagreements are part of healthy relationships, but how we handle them indicates our emotional maturity. Working out our differences and making up after an argument is better than holding grudges, whether we offended someone else or they offended us. “A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel” (Proverbs 18:19, NIV). Forgiveness is a way to let go of the hurt and prevent bitterness after a dispute, and it heals all parties involved.
We can form relationships based on emotional needs, selfish interests, manipulation, fear, or any number of other things, but the ones based on love will nurture and encourage. They have an enormous impact on our emotional state of mind. Positive relationships are gifts from God, and in them are found plenty of godly love and forgiveness. “Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]” (1 Peter 4:8, AMPC).
Not enough good things can be said about love, which should be at the core of everything. Families operating in love are closer and more resilient than families without it. The apostle Paul wrote about the kind of love necessary for us not just to survive but to flourish. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NKJV). God honors and blesses relationships with this type of love operating in the background.
We show true wisdom when we form all of our relationships according to God’s kind of love. This isn’t always easy, because everyone is imperfect, and many are carrying their own emotional baggage. To avoid confusion on this point, we can turn to Jesus as our perfect example. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God… Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:7, 10, 11). If we have Him as our guide, we can’t go wrong.