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02 Jul '13

A theology of relationships: 7 Biblical guidelines

Posted by T.J. Addington in relationships
Scripture has a great deal to say about relationships - principles that are often violated and which leads to all kinds of dysfunction, misunderstandings and conflict. If, on the other hand we lived out the relational counsel of Scripture there would be far less relational chaos in our world.

Speaking the truth in love
Speaking truth to others is incredibly important. Truth is about honesty. Not being fully truthful is a form of dishonesty which does no parties any good. Of course there are two temptations here. The first is not to speak the whole truth and the second is to speak the truth harshly (without consideration and love). Both will get us into relational trouble

Self definition
This is about the ability to speak the truth to others even when we know that others will disagree. There is often the temptation to tell others what they want to hear rather than what we really think. When Jesus says, "Let your yes be yes and your no be no," He is speaking to the issue of personal honesty (Matthew 5:37). When we give people the wrong impression of what we are actually thinking we sow the seeds of future misunderstanding.

Forgiveness
It goes without saying perhaps except that there are many who refuse to forgive those who have wronged them or for a perceived slight. Not only do we end up unable to restore the relationship when we don't forgive but we start to live in a prison of bitterness of our own making. A fallen world demands relational resets that can only take place when forgiveness is extended.

Making assumptions about motives
Much relational disconnect comes from assuming the motives of others - something we cannot do because we cannot know the thoughts and hearts of another. When Jesus tells us not to judge others but pay attention to the issues of our own hearts he is going to the heart of no making assumptions about the motives of others. We can judge behaviors but we cannot judge hearts and when we do we are usually wrong.

Extending patience and kindness
The fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control ought to be the guiding relational attitudes we bring to bear in every relationship and interaction. It is not easy and they are not called the fruit of the Spirit for nothing - they require the Holy Spirit in our lives to live out. Think of how much relational disconnect would be avoided if we lived that out!

Conflict resolution
When Jesus says not to let the sun go down on our wrath he is indicating that keeping short accounts is critical. The Scriptures say a great deal about peace between individuals and Paul tells us to live at peace with one another - at least as it depends on us. This is a choice we make. Matthew 18 makes it clear that to resolve conflict we must go to the one with whom a relationship has been broken and not to others.

Humility
A posture of humility, seeing ourselves realistically and treating others as worthy of honor is a huge asset in good relationships and one that was modeled by Christ. Pride and needing to be right and have our own way hurt relationships every time. By definition, pride destroys healthy relationships as it is now about me rather than about us.