Session 14: Relationships 101- Eternal Principles in dealing with anyone
1. “No Man is An Island”
- The quote is attributed to John Donne (1572-1631), a clergyman who painted the picture that everyone is part of whole, and that no one is meant to be in isolation.
- This is in fact a biblical concept that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when God said that “it is not good that man should be alone…” (Genesis 2:18). This is especially true in light of our previous presentation, which addressed the church and how we are to relate to each other (1 Peter 3:8,9), and how we are to do it together (Hebrews 10:24-25)
- Even if you look at this idea from a non-biblical view, it still holds true as evidenced by survey done on 2000 adults in the UK. Quoting the Head of Marketing of the team that did the survey – “It seems that in an overly complicated and stressful world we’re looking for ways to reconnect with what really matters.... Family, friends and the beauty of nature make people happiest.” http://bit.ly/lifesimplepleasures (accessed Nov 18th 2013)
- Additionally, a cruel experiment by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II also shows that this is something that has lasted through the ages. According to the Chronicles of Friar Adam of Salimbene, as quoted by Coulton – “He made linguistic experiments on the vile bodies of hapless infants, “bidding foster-mothers and nurses to suckle and bathe and wash the children, but in no way to prattle or speak with them; for he would have learnt whether they would speak the Hebrew language (which had been the first), or Greek, Latin, or Arabic, or perchance the tongue of their parents of whom they had been born. But he labored in vain, for the children could not live without clappings of the hands, and gestures, and gladness of countenance, and blandishments.”
(Coulton, George Gordon. From St. Francis to Dante: A translation of all that is of primary interest in the chronicle of the Franciscan Salimbene; (1221-1288). London: Barnicott &Pearce, 1906.)
2. Biblical Principles in Relationships – L.O.V.E
L – Look to God
- The story of Adam and Eve (Genesis chapters 2 and 3) signifies the importance of a relationship with God. Both Adam and Eve had an intimate relationship with each other while still having a close walk with God. Both the horizontal and vertical components were in harmony.
- However, when they sinned, the vertical component with God was broken, and eventually the horizontal with each other was as well as it became a matter of blame and finger-pointing. To truly restore relationships, we have to look to God. This doesn’t mean that a relationship without God will fail; it does mean that from a biblical perspective, a relationship focused on Him follows the original purpose of creation and relationships. Not only that, it gives us the strength and ability to mend relationships where the affections aren’t mutual, such as in the case where one party has really hurt the other and where forgiveness is needed.
- Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving debtor in Matthew 18:21-35; in it the servant is owed 100 denarii, which is about $28,000 (based on the ABS average weekly wage of about $1400; 1 denarii = 1 day wage). However he himself owed 10,000 talents (1 talent = 6000 denarii), which comes up to about $16.8 billion dollars. While the $28,000 definitely hurts, as in the pain done to us does hurt, the only way we can mend that relationships and to forgive is to look at the debt that God paid Himself for us at the Cross of Calvary. Without looking to God and what He has done for us, we will never be able to forgive.
- In looking to Him, He will give us what we need, including love (1 Corinthians 13) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25)
O – Overcome Obstacles
- God tells us to pursue things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another (Romans 14:19). That means there are things which do not make things, and things which we cannot edify one another – they are obstacles in our relationships.
- These include addictions, which includes gambling, alcohol, pornography and many more. In the case of pornography, a recent study at Cambridge showed that men “aged 19 to 34, had tried and failed to break their habit and had lost relationships and jobs as a result. All fed their habit using online porn.”
http://bit.ly/pornonthebrain (accessed November 19th 2013)
- The Bible of course gives counsel on this (Matthew 5:27-28, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5), but more importantly God tells us that we can overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13).
- One of the best ways to overcome obstacles is to think of whatever is true, honourable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8)
V – Value Your Relationships
- A study conducted by Wendell Johnson http://bit.ly/psychologicalexperiments (accessed Nov 20th 2013) showed that negative responses (as opposed to “positive therapy, in which children were praised and encouraged), were badly affected in terms of their psychological health.
- We need to value our relationships and view people through God’s eyes.
- An example of this is Onesimus, who was a slave. In writing to Philemon, Paul tells him that they should be viewing Onesimus no longer as a useless slave, but a beloved brother that’s useful to the both of them.
- God of course views us as worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus Himself (Romans 5:8), and we should be viewing others the same (John 13:35).
E – Establish Environment / Boundaries
- Our environment and boundaries will determine the extent of our relationship; thus we need to create healthy ones and stay away from those that may be detrimental to us (1 Corinthians 15:33, 2 Corinthians 6:14).
- However, regardless of the situation that we’re in, God will give us wisdom on how to handle it as long as we ask (James 1:5).
- We still have our part to play, to condition ourselves (i.e. “Pavlov’s dog”), and some examples include not going to bed angry (Ephesians 4:26-27) and to be quick to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19-21)
While the “L.O.V.E” principle will not fix your relationships, it certainly will provide a basis on how you can improve your relationships, be it with your spouse or family or friends. Just remember that it all comes back to the first point – to always look to God.