As the author of love (1 John 4.7-8), God has much to say about how we love each other through our relationships. And not just intimate relationships (spousal, dating) but through our friendships, familial ties, and even professional/working relationships.
As it turns out, all Godly relationships, regardless of the type, share common pillars that make them healthy and successful. In Romans 12, the apostle Paul shares several foundational principles for walking in healthy relationships according to the ways of God.
In this blog series, we’ve shared 12 pillars of Godly relationships for making strong, enjoyable connections that honor each other and thus God.
Here’s a recap of our pillars so far.
1. A Renewed Mind: Seeing As God Sees — Without God’s perspective and heart, we can’t see and value people as He does them.
2. Grace: Giving What’s Not Deserved — Grace is how God responds to our failures and helps us to forgive and keep a grateful heart at all times in all situations.
3. Humility: Remembering Others — Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
4. Celebrating Our Diversity — Because God created us with differences and loves us just that way, so we should honor and celebrate each other’s differences too.
5. Love: The Choice — Love is choosing someone’s highest good. We don’t always get to choose what or who we like, but we always choose how we respond and treat (love) our fellow man.
6. Honor — When we honor one another in our relationships, we are recognizing their value to us, and more importantly, their value to God.
7. Joy and Patience — People enjoy being around other people that live life out of joy and hope. When trials come, it’s through patience that we express our trust in God and our enduring love for one another.
8. Prayer — When we pray for those that we share relationship with, we create a spiritual bond and heart-link that allows both of us to grow stronger together in Christ.
9. Sharing — Giving nurtures and builds healthy relationships, and models God’s heart. Because He’s made us unique, what one person doesn’t have, another will.
Let’s get into our final 3 pillars every Godly relationship needs.
Bless those who persecute you [who cause you harm or hardship]; bless and do not curse [them]. Romans 12.14 AMP
While some believe that we have a right to withhold forgiveness, living God’s way for our lives means that we forgive and even bless those that offend us (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6.27-28). That’s not always easy to do, but it’s what God calls us to do.
One of the reasons that God tells us to bless those that offend us is because no one is ever more offended than God is. In fact, all sin is ultimately against God. And by choosing to forgive and bless in return, we come to look more and more like Him.
When we bless those that offend us, especially those that we’re in relationship with, we look more like God and thus win people to Him. Being a blessing, even in offense, helps people to really see what God is like (John 3.16). Ultimately, people come to know God and His heart through us.
Because every relationship will inevitably inflict some offense at some point, we would do good to respond in a way that reflects God to the other person. Even when we don’t feel like it. This is also known as ministering or operating in the opposite spirit. Instead of giving offense in return for offense, we can choose to be like God and respond with a blessing.
11. Understanding And Trust
Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. Romans 12.15 AMP
We all share a fundamental need to be heard and more importantly, to be understood. As we can see from the state of the world today, dire consequences are inevitable when we fail to hear and understand our fellow man and woman.
Understanding often means meeting people wherever they’re at in life, keeping an open mind, and a listening heart. It involves being intentional in learning to communicate with clarity but also listening intently so that people feel heard and understood.
We cannot change what we don’t communicate about.
Bishop TD Jakes
With understanding comes trust — a pillar of every healthy relationship. Trust is the choice that we make to be dependent on someone else for something. We trust people that we share relationships with, with our feelings, secrets, vulnerabilities, and most of all, our best interest. Trust can take a lifetime to build and moments to destroy.
People won’t feel understood unless they can reveal themselves to you and they won’t do that until they trust you.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12.16-21 NIV
To be in harmony means, as the King James translation puts it, to be of the same mind. Or in other words, to be in agreement with or on the same side.
Relationships that are out of harmony happen when people are opposed to or against each other. In no relationship does each person agree with the other 100% on everything. But there’s a difference between disagreeing on something and being outright against someone. And in fact, we’re to overcome evil with good.
We are to live in harmony with and associate with those “of low position” — those people that don’t share in the same class, privileges, and standings as we do. The relational pillar of honor reminds us that all people have value to God and to the extent that we honor them, He will honor us.
Pride, thinking more of ourselves than we really are, is the greatest obstacle to harmony. Yet, humility helps us to see ourselves in relation to everyone else. Humility allows us to live selflessly. It’s through humility that we can cultivate harmony which will sometimes mean that we accept “humble duties” for the purpose of loving and serving others well in our relationships.
Notably, the apostle Paul instructs us to live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on you. Some people are impossible to get along or be at peace with. Sometimes it’s for a season of life, and sometimes longer. But we’re not responsible for that — “what they did.” We’re responsible for how we respond. And it matters what we do.
So as far as it depends on us within our relationships, we should strive to live at peace with all, modeling the heart of Christ.
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