Brian is a Catholic Christian, who strives to uphold the Word of God and integrates it in his writing deliberately.
In my previous article, I have shared some tips on how to nurture a healthy and meaningful relationship with your spouse. This time around, I shall touch on a few generic aspects of cultivating quality relationships with people within your social circle.
The term relationship comes from the base word ‘relate’, and it entails the connection between two or more people. As we co-exist with others in this big world, we would have established countless connections with numerous people. It will most likely be our immediate family and followed by our extended family members. Of course, there will also be friends and acquaintances that we meet along the way which will expand our social circle. Basically, our life revolves around relationships, be it with God, family, friends, neighbours, classmates, co-workers, and even business partners. Therefore, being able to relate well to different groups of people, who may be from diverse backgrounds is an essential life skill.
What does the Bible say about relationship? God is a relational God. He is relational within the Godself, in which He is the Father, who relates to the son, who relates to the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, we Christians identify God as the Holy Trinity. Let it be known that we are made in the image of God, and as such we are created to be relational as well. We are created to be in a relationship with God our creator and are encouraged to nurture our relationship with each other as well. A healthy functioning relationship will be a truly amazing experience for the people involved. Consequently, such a wonderful bond and connection will encourage a person to lead a fulfilling, loving, and purposeful existence. All things considered, such positive and constructive outcomes are essentially the manner in which God intended for a relationship to impact our lives.
For some of us who have encountered a bitter experience with certain people in our lives and may still be burdened and hurt by our past wounds, do not let it hinder you from building another connection. If the hurt is caused by someone very close to us, the emotional baggage that we carry from the incident will take time and patience to heal. There is no shame in feeling vulnerable and hurt. It only makes us human, and experiencing such feelings may be uncomfortable, but at times necessary for us to grow as a person.
Each person’s life experience is unique and different. Depending on your exposure to the community and the people in your social circle, each of us may have different stories of how our relationships either enrich or drain us. At times, establishing relationships with people can be hard, hurtful, emotionally draining, and even toxic as well as damaging. Despite that, we will be able to understand the importance and significance of relationships to God when we read through the Bible. In the Bible, Jesus showed us the importance of relationships in the way He lived His life and through the words He uttered.
We shall explore further on the dynamics of quality relationships and the essence that will allow us to nurture and manifest them in our life. In order to do so, we shall reference certain Biblical principles and wisdom written in the Book of God as our point of reference.
The relationships we form with people are indeed varied and complex. The kind of relations and the emotional investment into nurturing it depends on several factors. It is fundamental that we recognise the factors that influence how we move forward in our relationship with others and ensure its sustainability over the long term.
In John 15:12-13, the bible says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
The fact that God commands it means that it is not an option in our life. It is not something that we do when we feel like it. Instead, it has to be a deliberate response to another person whom we know to be in the family of God, regardless of our feeling or perception towards that person. One thing we can be sure of is that God will never command us to do something that is futile.
The secret to putting this into practice is being aware that we are to love, as He has first loved us. This kind of love must arise out of the same kind of relationship that He has with the Father that made it possible for Him to love us. In this same manner, and from the same source, we are to love one another with similar intensity and passion.
He loved us because God is love, and He was indwelt by the Father. He was in the Father and the Father in Him. As He yielded to that relationship, love flowed out. It could not be helped that God is love, and we shall allow love to flow from us if we yield to the relationship we have with Him. God’s love for us is out of this world and goes on to define to us the love which we ought to show to one another.
Honesty is of the utmost importance in human relations. Every social activity and interaction between people, especially those that require them to act in concert will be impeded when people are not honest with one another. Honesty is the basis of every relationship and should be practised in the form of open communication. The presence of honesty is required to build trust, which is another fundamental aspect of a healthy and fulfilling interaction between two or more people.
The lack of honesty would lead to deceit. What does being dishonest mean in this context? We may relate deception with the act of lying or speaking untruth. What does the Bible say about lying? A lying tongue is not only something God hates but an abomination to Him. Proverbs 6:16-19 says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
According to the Bible, anything that is not the truth is a lie in God’s eyes. As believers, we must not tell lies. Christians must not exaggerate or embellish their speech, which is a form of lying. Any distortion of the truth which is meant to deceive is frowned upon.
Well, there might be some of you who will argue that there should be an exception of being allowed a ‘white lie’ on occasions when it is needed. The purpose of telling a ‘white lie’ is to avoid conflict and from hurting people that may be involved in the situation. Albeit it being told for a good reason and noble purpose, it does not change the fact that it is a lie. Often, one must pray and ask for wisdom, carefully selecting one’s words as the Holy Spirit guides us, but one must not let a lie slide from your tongue so easily.
Another form of lying is making false promises in which we have no intention of seeing through. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?” The implication is that, when a person makes a promise but then decides not to honour it, will result in him or her being a liar. This is due to the fact that he says one thing but does another, which is not truthful.
Then there is the half-truth, in which a person divulges certain things that are technically correct but deliberately leaves out important facts or tells the story in such a way that leads people to reach a false conclusion. For instance, in Genesis 37:31-33, Joseph’s brothers sold him to be a slave. They then took his coat and dipped it in sheep blood, took it to their father Jacob, and said that they had found this coat. Of course, Jacob concluded that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal, which is exactly what the sons wanted Jacob to believe, though they never came right out and said so. Nevertheless, they had deliberately deceived their father to believe a falsehood.
Lying and deceit are not reconcilable with righteousness. If a person is honest and trustworthy, then they do not lie or deceive. Being honest and dependable is an integral part of being righteous. Proverbs 13:5-6 says: “The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves. Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”
Trust is basically a measure of honesty, goodness, and fairness of another party in any form of relations and interactions. A healthy relationship is built and sustained by trust. You will be unable to find happiness in your interaction with another in the absence of trust. It is one of the key ingredients for a healthy and meaningful relationship. The reason trust is a critical component in any relationship is because when trust is established, the people involved will become more honest and vulnerable with one another.
Trust in a relationship should be more than just intention. We need to be true to our words and follow through with actions that substantiate the promise made. Thus, it is important to think carefully before making any promises. Once a promise is made, it is on the person who uttered the pledge to honour it.
1 Corinthians 13:6-7 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and, always perseveres.” People who do not trust make poor leaders and it is dangerous to have them around during tense times of conflict or war. This type of people will not permit others to take the lead even if it’s necessary. Any idea other than theirs may work, but their lack of faith in the capability of others will not allow them to admit it.
Our God is a faithful God. Faithfulness is a key element in the way that God relates to us. Scriptures in the Bible repeatedly declare the intensity of God’s faithfulness towards us. As such, we are called to reciprocate. The Bible says, because God is faithful, anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.
Faithfulness is not only limited to romantic relationships, whereby both man and woman should avoid cheating on your partner. Instead, this virtue also applies to your relationship with others. If we are faithful to people, it will increase the trust level and will make them more open and honest in return.
The bible says in Proverbs 3:3-4, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
We are made to co-exist peacefully with others in this world. In John 13:34, the Bible says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Other scriptures in the Bible also point out to us that God wants the human race to exist together peacefully.
As additional references, you may refer to the Book of Matthew for more examples that will reinforce the notion that God wants us to promote a healthy and quality connection with others. In Matthew 5:9, Jesus talks about being a peacemaker and Matthew 6:21-26 speaks about handling our anger carefully. Matthew 6:33-37 explains the need to keep our word whilst Matthew 6:38-42 warns about not seeking revenge. Subsequently, Matthew 6:43-48 emphasises on the fact that we should love our enemies. Lastly, the book of Matthew 7:1-6 calls us not to judge others. All these commands are for us to maintain a healthy relationship with one another.
Let us pray
Heavenly Father, You have said that to truly love You, I must also love my neighbour. This may sometimes be difficult when we disagree due to lifestyle clashes. Yet in overcoming those difficulties, it is possible to see the miracle that You love me.
Teach us to love as you command us, Lord Father. May we look at others through your eyes, less judging, and focus more on loving instead. Bless the paths that we may come across today, the old friends and strangers with whom we might share a pleasant greeting, a smile, or maybe a deep connection.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Brian (author) from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on April 29, 2021:
Yes, Ms Dora. Our Heavenly Father wants only the best for us. He encourages us to build meaningful and healthy relationships with others and these teachings are consistently featured throughout the Bible. Most importantly, He would want us to nurture good relationship with Him first.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 29, 2021:
"One thing we can be sure of is that God will never command us to do something that is futile." I like that. I can vouch that quality relationships, especially with people of faith are worth establishing and maintaining.