Maintaining Relationships God’s Way
July 28, 2014
I was talking to an acquaintance of mine, a teenager, a couple of days ago, and she mentioned that she and her boyfriend had broken up due to an argument. When I asked if she still likes the guy, she said she does and that they are trying to work / talk things out. I gave her a suggestion then, based on her stated desire to continue a healthy relationship with the boy, and it really, I believe, is good advice that I myself, and everyone, should keep in mind.
The basics of my advice was that relationships take work, effort, understanding, and empathy from both sides, and that we should all remember that this is so. For though the truth of this is obvious, we still sometimes tend to forget. Sometimes it seems that we take a good relationship for granted and then get careless or lazy when a glitch stops the lovely flow of fellowship. But is it wise or Christ-like to just “throw in the towel” quickly? It’s not. This is the way of the world, and especially the way of the modern world –with all the array of choices now available for attaining conversation, relationship, and (supposed) friendship –weak, disingenuous, and uncommitted though they be. “At first sign of difficulty, annoyance, or disagreement, toss such a relationship to the ditch and move on.” Such is the slogan of the modern world.
But is this God’s way? It’s not. God never treats people like that. Instead, He woos, He waits, He speaks gently, and then He waits some more. Only if a person persists in deliberate rejection of Him does He, after much patience, leave that person to his foolishly chosen destiny.
So, I mentioned to the teen that she should maybe suggest to her guy friend that they decide together to not talk, for maybe a month, about the issue that they had so sharply disagreed about. Furthermore, to decide to look at each other’s good points, enjoy each other while avoiding those actions or words that caused the problem, and let love, affection, and honor soften the hard feelings. Then, after a few weeks of (hopefully) a peaceful, happy friendship, the issue could more easily and respectfully be discussed, though sometimes the issue, I told her, will have already by then, dissolved itself. Surprisingly, this girl responded that she liked my suggestion and would try it.
Looking past the faults of others, especially those whom we have loved for a while and who have shown that they love God and His Word, should be a practice of ours that we hold to with humility. (Rom. 12:10,16,18) “For it is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good” (Gal. 4:18), but sometimes being zealous for one’s viewpoint (whether or not that viewpoint is false or correct) can defeat the work God has been doing in many lives. (Rom. ch. 14) Sometimes, maybe often, insisting upon one’s own way or repeatedly pressuring others to view an issue the way we see it –even if ours may truly be the best choice or what is correct– is to walk in sin. The main sin is pride (Gal. 5:26), for pride is what makes us criticize others whom we think lack insight, what makes us think we see things correctly like no one else, and which makes us, in the name of what is right and true, act upset, even angry, unbending, condescending, impatient, and confrontational, when others do not cater to our wishes or agree with our convictions. Thus pride brings in all sorts of other sins, including self-righteousness and hypocrisy. And with these beams growing in one’s eye, the insistent person only increases in his blindness.
None of us is perfect every day and all the time. We hopefully strive to be –doing so by listening intently to the Spirit of God who is in us so that we press closer and closer to our goal– but if we were already irreversibly perfect in knowledge and behavior, we would not need to rely continually on the Spirit’s help. Therefore, because we know this, we should be very careful about sounding our viewpoints with an air of arrogant insistence. We should be very careful in thinking that we have it all figured out, that our method is the best for everyone, and that our conviction or way is 100% soundproof. Moreover, we should be very careful about twisting others’ words, putting words in their mouths, attaching beliefs to them they do not actually adhere to, making false accusations of any kind, or using untruths to support our view.
God has a way of humbling us if we refuse to humble ourselves. And life has a way of bringing sorrow and aloneness to those who berate others for views those others maintain, especially when those others have sat quietly, studiously, and submissively under the tutelage of the Spirit. For though there is a time to end relationships that shouldn’t be, there is more often a time to humble oneself, show others honor and respect, and reconsider one’s own viewpoint under the Voice of the Lord. In other words, it should be a priority to first get the beam out of one’s own eye so that the facts of a matter can be seen clearly by each person involved.
In this way valuable relationships that the Lord wills to continue because they are beneficial both to us and to others’ eternities, will not end due to foolishness, stubbornness, pride, or any other sin.