Updated: Apr 16, 2018
People are great. As young children, we look forward to having a big birthday party and inviting as many friends as our parents would allow. As we become teenagers, our friendships narrow and we look forward to “hanging out” with 3 or 4 close friends each weekend. In college, we are excited to find that “special” relationship, and we enjoy spending time with the one we plan to marry. Each life stage is made better because of the people that share them with us.
There is another reality: people can make life hard. Friends can sometimes let us down, and people we love can break our hearts. You do not have to live very long to figure out that our greatest joys in life are made better by sharing them with people you love and we just as easily realize that those same people can cause us pain.
One of the greatest lessons to be learned is to protect relationships. Proverbs 18:19 tells us that once we hurt someone, it can be very hard to win back their trust. It tells us that when there is contention and strife between two people, it can be like “the bars of a castle,” meaning that it is hard to regain access to that person’s heart. If we can do our best to not offend our brother (or wife, or husband, or coach, or employee or friend), then we can save ourselves a lot of pain, frustration and work trying to tear down those bars and win back that city!
The book of Proverbs is full of great reminders of how to protect our relationships. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help us get along with people:
• Be humble
Proverbs 3:7 "Do not be wise in your own eyes.”
• Watch your words
Proverbs 12:18 "There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health."
• Tell the truth
Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight."
• Watch your tone
Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
• Let someone else speak
Proverbs 18:13 "He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him."
• Do not use your words to hurt people
Proverbs 26:18-19 "Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking!’"
• Never spread rumors
Proverbs 25:7b-10 "Whom your eyes have seen, do not go hastily to court; for what will you do in the end when your neighbor has put you to shame? Debate your case with your neighbor and do not disclose the secret to another; lest he who hears it expose your shame and your reputation be ruined."
• Do not be stingy
Proverbs 23:6 "Do not eat the bread of a miser nor desire his delicacies."
If we do our best to follow the Word of God, we will be amazed at how clearly the Lord speaks to issues in which we struggle. The Bible is not an antiquated book that is unaware of our present day battles. Rather, it is inspired by the God who created the universe and who made each one of us and He, better than we, knows exactly where we struggle and what to do to fix it. Follow His Word and fight fewer battles!