“All the believers kept meeting together, and they shared everything with each other.”
Acts 2:44 (GW)
Acts 2:44 (GW)
The early church seemed to have met together quite a lot. And that is good. As believers, God has called us to be a part of each other and to meet together to receive the Word and encourage one another, and to live out our calling and mission as believers. Without being a part of other believers (the church), you will never be successful in fulfilling God’s destiny for your life. We need each other. We need each other in order to function as God intended for us. And the reality is that whenever you have people coming together, you will also have the potential for many relational issues to arise. Therefore it is important to learn how to relate to people in a healthy way.
As Christians, we live in this world but we certainly are not of this world. Many Christians tend to forget this. The ways of the world are very different to the ways of God (Isaiah 55:8 KJV; 1 Corinthians 3:19 KJV). If we follow the pattern of the world we will get the world’s results, and it doesn’t matter how good they may seem – God’s results are far better and so we should be following His pattern. The world is constantly training us on how to live life and how to relate to others and so it is vital that we be purposeful in learning what God’s Word teaches and embracing it.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 (KJV)
If we aren’t being purposeful in renewing our minds (changing our way of thinking) then we will automatically conform to the pattern and mold of the world. You won’t be successful by accident; you will need to get into God’s Word and study it, and then start choosing to believe it. What you believe will determine how you experience relationships and all of life.
The world tells us that love is “give and take” and that you are the most important person in a relationship (not just in marriage but in all relationships). With that kind of belief you will always go into a relationship looking to get something out of it. That’s called self-centredness.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (NLT)
The Biblical approach to relating with others is to seek to be a blessing, not to be blessed. Jesus taught this many times (Matthew 6:27-28, 32-33, 36). Now I am not saying that you should allow people to abuse you, and I am certainly not saying that you have to be friends with everyone. If you are in an abusive relationship, I don’t believe that God would want you to stay in it – you are valuable. And you don’t have to be friends with everyone – but you should befriendly and be able to walk in love towards everyone. The truth is that you don’t have the capacity to be friends with everyone in your life. We should certainly be friendly and hospitable with everyone, but we can’t build deep friendships with everyone. Jesus didn’t either. He had thousands of followers during His earthly ministry, and then He had His core team of 12 close friends. Within that core team, Jesus had a few even closer friends.
It’s also important to note that good relationships are two-way. You can extend love and grace towards someone, but it will accomplish nothing unless they receive it. Sometimes you won’t be able to build relationally with someone because they are not participating; they’re rejecting you. And that’s okay. You just keep on doing your part and keep a good heart towards them. You are 100% responsible for 100% of your side of any relationship. You cannot force people to receive your goodwill, or to respond positively to it, but you can love them anyway.
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 (KJV)
You choose how you respond to others. When people do evil against you, choose not to respond like the world would. Choose to pray for them and then you focus on God’s love for you. As you do, His love will flow in your heart towards them.
“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” Matthew 10:14 (KJV)
In context, Jesus is saying that when you go to minister to people and they don’t receive you or what you’re saying, then move on. I believe it can apply to relationships too. If someone isn’t receiving your goodwill towards them, then don’t curse them and cause a scene, rather simply move on. You cannot be friends with everyone, but you can be friendly with everyone.