If I had to pick one thing that all people had in common, besides the normal human qualities of having a soul or a consciousness or human features, like eyes and hair and a mouth and so on, it would be that all humans have relationships. It doesn’t matter what culture you are from, or what life experiences you have, or what religion you belong to. One of the most fundamental of human experiences is that of forming and maintaining relationships. And it can be any relationship – with your parents, your best friend, your pastor, your significant other, the crush you had when you were like, 12. If you’ve had any level of connection or interaction, then you have a relationship with that person.
Obviously, not all the relationships we currently have or have had in the past are going to be good or positive or end well. Some will be terrible – the relationship you have with your brother or sister’s bratty friend who breaks something that is yours is likely not going to be a good one. In the same way, the chances are slim that you’ll have a healthy, positive relationship with the guy who broke your best friend’s heart or with an absent parent who has done little to affirm you or direct you in the ways you should go.
Regardless of who it is, and whether the relationship is positive or negative, relationships are an important part of our lives. Unsurprisingly as such, they’re discussed in the Bible a LOT. In this article, I will only be providing an overview of the biblical perspective on relationships, while the rest of this series will provide you with articles focused on the various specific kinds of relationships each of us have.
The Word of God has made relationships a priority, something that we should take seriously. This is highlighted by Jesus in the way He treated his disciples:
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:12-15 (NIV)
Jesus, the Son of God, saw a group of 12 normal men as His friends. He wanted, and did, have a relationship with them. In the same way, He desires to have a relationship with each of us. This is incredible! And it should serve as a powerful reminder of how much we should treasure our relationships.
The Bible gives several instructions regarding relationships. In this article, I will be giving you three points about the perspective we should have about relationships as Christians.
As we saw with Jesus and His disciples, relationships are important. They have immense value, and it is vital we view them in this way.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.”– Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)
Relationships, friendships, in particular, are so valuable. Friends can be an amazing support throughout our lives. They pick us up when we fall, help us to laugh at ourselves, and keep walking down the meandering, bumpy, muddy road of life.
“As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
This verse doesn’t just speak about friendships, but all relationships. These people we meet throughout our lives…they shape us. You and I would not be the people we are today without God’s grace and the people He has placed in our lives.
If we see relationships as valuable, we should start behaving in a way that respects this value. The Bible provides several good indications of what this behavior looks like.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)
You might be familiar with the verse that talks about loving your neighbor as yourself – the verse above from Ephesians builds on that idea. The relationships that we form, no matter what kind of relationship it is, should be approached in a way that is loving and caring. They should reflect the way we are treated by God.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” – Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)
Love serves as the glue of our relationships. It is the invisible thread that holds everything together. And the love that Colossians talks about is not something that comes naturally. On the contrary, it is impossible for us to achieve such love in and of ourselves. It must flow from our relationship with God.
The final point seems to counter the previous two:
“Do not be yoked together with unbeliever. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common.” – 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)
This verse highlights the need to be discerning in your relationships. Now, I’m not saying that believers need to isolate themselves into these little “Christian Only” groups – please don’t do this! We should have relationships with unbelievers… how else will they hear the Gospel!? This verse from 2 Corinthians is more about not letting our relationships with unbelievers pull us away from God. We need to be careful regarding the people we choose to form close relationships with because in the same way that iron sharpens iron, water causes iron to rust.
Our lives are filled with relationships – good ones, bad ones, average ones, non-existent ones – and all of them play a part in who we are and in who we become. So, I challenge you: take a moment today to evaluate your relationships. Do you see them as valuable, do you behave in a loving way in them, and are you discerning in who you form close relationships with?