The relationships that you have with other people are some of the most important things in your life. Whether it’s the relationship that you have with your spouse, other members of your family, your friends, or the people you work with, it’s crucial that you nurture these relationships so they can be the healthy, stabilizing force that God wants them to be. The Bible is clear about the importance of relationships and how to keep them thriving.
Have you ever taken a careful inventory of the relationships in your life? It’s easy to think about your relationships with others, and only focus on the ones that you have with the people in your home. Obviously, your relationship with your spouse (if you are married) is the most important relationship that you have with another person. If you have children, those relationships are every bit as important. However, those relationships are only part of the equation when evaluating the people who God has placed in your life. If you never have, take a moment and spend some time thinking about all of the relationships that you have with others. Friends, co-workers, employers, employees, or anyone else who is a daily part of your life all factor into the equation.
God wants us to have connections with other people. The importance of having trusted friends and family members in your corner cannot be overstated. However, it’s crucial that you understand how to nurture these relationships in order to keep them healthy. Relationships are a two-way street, and while you can’t control how the other person handles the relationship, you can take the steps to ensure that you’re doing everything within your own power to create lasting, thriving relationships with others.
The Foundation of Friendships
1 John 1:7-8 (TPT)
But if we keep living in the pure light that surrounds him, we share unbroken fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, continually cleanses us from all sin. If we boast that we have no sin, we’re only fooling ourselves and are strangers to the truth.
One of the most important aspects of building friendship and fellowship with other people is to be authentic. Authentic, foundational friendship is not based on a surface level agreement in which you both only put your best foot forward. Instead, the kind of friendship that God wants us to have with other people allows you and the person you’re friends with to be authentic with one another.
One of the most important things to remember when cultivating healthy friendships is that neither of you are perfect. Both of you bring your own set of idiosyncrasies, habits, and issues into the friendship. However, when we truly love one another the way that Christ said we should, we can move past those issues and focus on the relationships that God has placed in our lives.
Find friends who you can be “real” with. However, if you do that, it’s important that you allow your friends to be equally as real with you. Friendship shouldn’t be based on maintaining some sort of public image. Instead, you and your friends should be able to share your victories and your defeats with one another.
Make sure that you and your friends have a relationship where it’s safe to be vulnerable with one another. People aren’t always strong, and things aren’t always going the way that we want them to go. In those moments, it’s even more important that you and your friends have the ability to encourage one another.
Relationships Require Courage
2 Timothy 1:7 (TPT)
For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you might power, love, and self-control.
The emotions that you approach any relationship with will have a direct impact on the overall health of that relationship. When you are riddled with fear, anxiety, and doubt, those emotions will bleed into our relationships with others. While the other people we’re in relationship with should be there to encourage us during moments of fear and anxiety, we cannot assume that we can constantly act in the way that those emotions cause us to act while maintaining the viability of our relationships. Remember, having a moment of anxiety is not the same thing as being crippled by the spirit of fear. Instead, when we allow the spirit of fear to be the driving force in our lives, it will lead to damaged relationships with others.
Fear damages relationships in multiple ways. First of all, it leaves you unable to trust the people around you. When you’re afraid of one thing, it doesn’t take long before you reach a state of paranoia. It’s important to understand that being paranoid doesn’t always look like it does in movies and TV shows where an individual is hiding somewhere convinced that someone is trying to capture them. Instead, it simply means that you think that others are being less than honest with you and are trying to force you out of their circle of friends.
When we start to believe that the people around us aren’t truly there for us, we begin to distance ourselves in the name of self-preservation. Isolation is not God’s design for humanity. Remember, when He created Adam, He said it wasn’t good that Adam was in the Garden of Eden alone, and He created Eve to be a helpmate for him. When you allow fear to creep into your relationships, you’re more likely to isolate yourself, because you fall into the trap of believing that you’re the only person you can really trust.
James 4:1 (TPT)
What is the cause of your conflicts and quarrels among each other? Doesn’t the battle begin inside of you as you fight to have your own way and fulfill your own desires?
One of the easiest ways to damage the relationships in your life is to be envious. While it’s easy to sit back and say that you would never be envious of a friend or family member, that’s not always the case. Imagine that you’re friends with someone you work with, and a promotion becomes available. Both you and your friend apply for the promotion, but the company picks the other person. How do you feel in that moment? Obviously, you’re disappointed that you didn’t receive the promotion, but do you still have the ability to be happy for your friend? If not, you’ve opened the door for envy to creep in.
At the beginning of any relationship, you probably work hard to remain unselfish. You care about the other person’s happiness and wellbeing, often being willing to put their desires ahead of your own. But as familiarity sets in, it’s easy to start looking at how fortunate the other person is, allowing a hint of jealousy to set in.
According to James, the primary cause of bickering and arguments in relationship is the need for self-promotion. Humans have an innate desire to advance. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that desire. The desire to make a better life for yourself and your family is what motivates us to get a good education, advance at work, and do what we can with the skills that we have been given. However, that’s not a license to become jealous.
In another verse, Paul says that the person who plants a garden of selfishness not only ignores the needs of others, but also ignores God (Galatians 6:7-8)! Obviously, ignoring others and ignoring God is not the best way to achieve a healthy relationship with other people. Make sure that you’re taking a selfless approach to your relationships, regardless of how long you’ve had them. Doing so will cut down on the number of arguments and quarrels that we are all prone to experience.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, today I’m asking You to help me better manage the relationships in my life. Whether it’s at home or at work, with family or with friends, help me to take a Scriptural approach to every relationship in my life. I know that You want me to be connected to others in a healthy manner. In Christ’s name, Amen.