PRINCIPLES FOR GOOD RELATIONSHIPS
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Below are several Biblical principles that we choose to live by. We believe these principles provide a practical way to cultivate and keep relationships healthy and strong. We have discovered that friendships are not preserved by sincerity and love alone, but by keeping clearly defined agreements that individuals make with God and one another. When we walk together according to godly ethics, we find God’s favor and truly prove that real friends love at all times. (Proverbs 17:17)
1. The Forgiveness Principle – I will choose to walk in forgiveness and not easily take offense against me.
The Scripture: Acts 24:16 - “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”
Giving as well as receiving forgiveness is a must for the Christian who wants to live in peace and joy and in fellowship with God. The scripture is clear on this subject. Since, we as believers have the nature of God, we know that God delights in us portraying His character by forgiving others even as we have been forgiven. Our lives are filled with choices. We can choose to not be offended and forgive anyone who has directed hurtful words or actions toward us. In Proverbs 19:11 it says, a person's wisdom gives them patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
The Question: Can you just forgive and move on? Are you a forgiving person? Are you committed to choose forgiveness first?
2. The First Word Principle - You will be the first person to hear about any problem I have with you.
The Scripture: Matthew 18:15 - “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend.”
So often today when people get hurt or offended, instead of forgiving and moving on, they choose to get other people involved in their painful situation. Instead of obeying the simple instruction of Jesus to go first to the person who offended you, they often go to friends or family members and talk about the offender. This only makes the situation worse because it complicate things by further alienating the offender and possibly creating many secondary offenses in the other people brought into the situation. When friends and family members hear about these offenses, they tend to get offended for the injured party. This could be avoided by simply obeying the scriptures and going only to the person who offended you. We’ve all heard the old saying, ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships.’ Loose lips also create breaches and alienate people. Therefore, we should do what Jesus said and be reconciled to our brother.
The Question: Have you spoken to anyone else about this offense? Will you commit to go first to the person who has hurt or offended you?
3. The Faithfulness Principle - Faithfulness to our relationship outweighs the importance of any offense between us. I will not allow any problem to override the principles by which we live.
The Scripture: Proverbs 27:6 – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
Problems in the form of misunderstandings and differences of opinions will arise from time to time concerning issues that are usually minor. These problems will try to divide us. Therefore, it is important for us to determine beforehand that our relationship is the most important thing and outweighs our problems and issues. We must always be strengthening our relationships by letting the people we love, walk and work with know they are
important to us. Concerning the essentials, we must strive for unity; in the non-essentials, we will allow for liberty; and in all things love will prevail.
The Question: Is this problem or your concern a threat to our relationship? Will you value the relationship above the non-essentials in order to walk together in unity?
4. The Friendship Principle - It is my responsibility to approach you if I need your help. I will not expect you to interpret my actions or recognize my heart’s condition.
The Scripture: Proverbs 18:24 - “Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.”
The essence of this principle is that no human is a mind reader. Only God knows the thoughts and intents of a person’s heart. If you need my help or assistance, it is your responsibility to approach me and ask for help.
What happens so often is that individuals find themselves in a place of needing a friend, family member or co- worker to assist them or come to their aid. When this doesn’t happen, they may be prone to take offense and accuse the other party of not being sensitive or caring. Therefore, the friendship principle says it is each one’s personal responsibility to approach another if they need help.
The Question: Are you offended that I did not recognize you were troubled? Are you willing to assume the responsibility of letting others know if or when you need help?
5. The Four-day Principle - I will not allow any problem I have with you to go unresolved for more than four days.
Scripture: Proverbs 28:13 - “You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.”
Someone may ask, “How did you come up with four days?” Would it not be better to immediately go and approach the other person? In some situations the answer would be yes, but we have discovered that occasionally some people need time to cool down and to process what has transpired. When a few days have passed people generally give the problem to God and are at peace with the situation, or they are in a different frame of mind and are willing to talk without being so emotional. Why four days? In the Scripture when Jesus' friend Lazarus died, Jesus was four days in getting to Lazarus' home. When Jesus and his sisters approached the tomb where Jesus would raise Lazarus him from the dead, his sister stated, “He has been dead four days, by now he will have a foul odor." So when things are not dealt within a few days, they produce a foul odor. This makes it obvious that the problem really needs to be dealt with in order to preserve the friendship. Life can come forth, but holding on to unresolved issues for months or even years only damages relationships.
Question: How long have you been troubled about this problem? Are you willing to confront in a gentle and peaceable way before the end of four days?
6. The Final Word Principle - I will believe and act upon the last words we spoke concerning our relationship.
Scripture: Philippians 4:8 - “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on ...the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”
What we said or agreed upon when we last spoke is so often easily forgotten. When we haven’t heard from someone in quite a while, it is so easy to think that something has gone wrong in the relationship. We all are prone to vain imaginations. We can begin to think we either did something wrong or they have changed their
mind concerning the value of our relationship or what we agreed upon. To live according to this principle, we must choose to believe the other person was sincere and honest with the last words they spoke to me. Please note… it is incumbent upon either party to notify the other person if they are uncertain about what was last spoken or need an update as to what is presently believed.
Question: Did you forget or disregard what we last spoke to one another concerning our relationship? Are you willing to believe what was last spoken to you?
7. The Flexibility Principle - I will search out options with you in making possible adjustments in how we relate to one another.
Scripture: Isaiah 1:18 - “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord...” Malachi 3:16 - "Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name."
Good and sincere people can change over time. If the nature of the relationship we had in the beginning is not working as it once did, we will approach one another and talk about the need to readjust our agreements so we can continue to walk together and work together. We want to be the kind of people who can be flexible and accept the inevitable changes in life. I have discovered that amiable people are a joy to be around. James 3:17-
18. This enables us to come together, work together, and stay together.
Question: Are there adjustment in our relationship that need to be made because of changes in our personal lives or circumstances? Are you a flexible person?
8. The Frustration Principle - When all efforts to apply these principles have failed to the point of frustration, we will commit ourselves to appeal to a person with higher authority for the sake of the relationship.
Scripture: Hebrews 13:17 – “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”
Who doesn’t get frustrated at times? We believe that if we live by these principles there will be fewer problems in our relationships. The frustration principle simply states that once we have put all these other principles into practice as best we can and one of us is still frustrated, he will inform the other person that he will seek help from a third person who has authority to help him resolved his internal conflicts. There is no perfect system of how to relate, but the God who values relationships desires for us to live together in unity and can give us wisdom to be friends with those He has brought into our lives.
Question: Have you followed through with all the other principles? Do you have a leader or a person higher authority in your life you can appeal to if needed? Are you committed to make such an appeal?