There’s nothing that hurts more than a broken relationship. In our world, we see marriages crippled, friendships fizzling out, partnerships dying, co-workers not getting along, and siblings battling it out.
When I was younger, I had a really good friend. We got along great, had fun together, and supported each other. We gave each other baby showers, watched each other’s kids, and hung out all the time.
Our families went on vacation together. She was one of the best friends I’ve ever had. We never argued.
As time went on though, and our kids got older, we seemed to go in different directions. We started spending less and less time together. Busyness got in the way and eventually, we drifted apart. I haven’t spoken to her in years.
Oh, how I’ve mourned that friendship. I wish I would have fought harder to keep it from fizzling out.
Can you relate? I realize that some relationships we just cannot hang on to and that’s okay. But today I want to talk about those permanent fixture relationships in our lives. Some are temporary, but others are for the remainder of our life. These are relationships that need to be strong for our well-being.
In order for our marriages to thrive, our friendships to flourish, our work places to prosper, and our partnerships to succeed, we need to have strong healthy relationships.
So, let me offer to you 5 ways to build stronger relationships. Of course, and as always, we will seek our advice from Scripture. There is not a better reference.
1. Put others’ needs above your own!
Basically, we need to take the form of a servant. Humbling ourselves! In John 13, we read a touching story. After dinner, Jesus got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet (John 13:4-5).
Jesus, their Lord and Teacher, had taken on the role of a servant. Something unheard of in those days. Peter questioned it. All twelve were caught off guard.
Then Jesus tells them what it means. He said, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet” (John 13:12-14).
Some people feel it’s beneath them to become lower than others, especially when that person has been difficult. Jesus knew that Judas was a betrayer before he ever walked out of the room that night. Yet, Jesus didn’t treat him any differently. He washed his feet, too.
Paul says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:4).
2. Get rid of jealousy!
The topic of coveting what others have stems all the way back into the Old Testament when God laid out the Ten Commandments. The 10th commandment is this: “You must not covet your neighbor’s house…” (Exodus 20:17).
We often want what others have: their jobs, their families, their looks, their style, and their gifts and talents… among many other things.
We read in Colossians 3:5: “Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of the world.” I guess this verse puts jealousy in a whole new light. It’s wrong. It’s a sin. It’s worshiping stuff rather than God.
And jealousy will ruin any relationship.
We need to be content. We need to stop coveting what others have and embrace who we are in Christ and what He’s given to us.
3. Find your identity in Christ!
The strongest relationships I know are those that are centered on Christ. Why? Because Jesus never fails.
When a parent finds their identity in their kids, they can become controlling and overbearing when their kids don’t act a certain way. Thus, the good relationship they want with their kids can becoming strained.
When a wife finds her identity in her husband, she can become distraught and withdrawn when he fails to meet her expectations.
When a friend chooses to identify herself by her friendship, the relationship can be broken when the friend fails to come through.
People are human and will fail. Perhaps a good assignment would be to go through Scripture and write out what God says about you. And then believe it.
There’s not a more powerful verse on forgiveness than this one: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13).
It’s not easy, though, is it?
Forgiveness is not for the perpetrator. It’s for us!
Unforgiveness turns into bitterness and bitterness is like a cancer that grows until it consumes our bodies. Eventually we die inside.
To have strong and healthy relationships, we must learn to forgive. We must let the pain and hurt go.
But here’s the thing: we cannot do this on our own. We need God’s help. So, if you’re having a hard time forgiving someone, then ask God to help you. He’s done it for me. He can do it for you, too.
5. Always build up!
The Apostle Paul writes: “Encourage each other and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
My Grandma used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Oh, how true this is.
The Book of James is a great resource on the tongue. It tells us that the tongue can be used for good or for evil (James 3:9). I guess we should evaluate the way we use our tongues.
I try to speak only words that encourage. Perhaps we should all try this.
Encouragement is one sure way to keep relationships strong and healthy.
I hope this post has given all of us some food for thought. I hope that we will work on building stronger relationships – relationships that will bring glory and honor to God.
Love and blessings,
Upcoming Bible study – January 2016
Joshua: Heaven’s Mighty Warrior