As part of what we are focusing on this month at SHCC – ‘Growing to Fruitfulness’, one of the key aspects for the body of Christ (church) is to build and nurture healthy relationships. As Paul says in Eph 4: 11-13, unity among brethren is key to the maturity of the church. This will then lead to “….attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Each member ought to commit to building godly character through maintaining high levels of conduct and speech in relationship.
There are five principles, which can be used to cultivate and keep relationships strong and healthy. We have discovered that friendships are not held together by sincerity and love alone, but by covenantal agreements. When we agree to walk together according to godly standards and ethics, we find God’s favour and truly prove that friends are at all times.
Proverbs 17:17 [A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.]
(1) THE FAITHFULNESS PRINCIPLE
Faithfulness to a relationship means loyalty to a person. When problems are the primary focus of a relationship, principles are laid aside in order to air differences. The importance of sharing feelings often takes priority over character.
Psalms 133:1 [Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! ]
COMMITMENT: Faithfulness to our relationship outweighs the importance of any offence between us. I will not allow any problem to override the principle by which we live.
QUESTION: Is this problem a threat to our relationship?
(2) THE FOUR DAY PRINCIPLE
Resolving conflicts preserves friendships. Offences between friends are spiritually, emotionally and physically harmful. Bringing issues to closure within a reasonable amount of time maintains the health of a relationship. (The Lazarus Principle).
John 11, Proverbs 28:13 [He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.]
James 3:17-18 [But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.]
COMMITMENT: I will not allow any problem I have with you to go unresolved for more than four days. If within that length of time, I have not come to peace about the issue, I will communicate this with you.
QUESTION: How long have you been troubled about this problem?
(3) THE FIRST WORD PRINCIPLE
Jesus instructed us to go to an offending brother privately. When we obey Jesus, we are able to reconcile with our brother much more easily than if we had revealed the problems to others before speaking with him.
Matthew 18:15 [Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.]
COMMITMENT: You will be the first person to hear about any problem I have with you
QUESTION: Have you spoken to anyone else about this offence?
(4) THE FINAL WORD PRINCIPLE
We believe God’s Word. We should also believe the words of our friends. If we respect the words we hear from each other, we do not need constant assurances of the well being of our relationships. We can be confident that all is well because we have not been told otherwise.
Proverbs 14:5 [A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies.]
Proverbs 14:25 [A true witness delivers souls, but a deceitful witness speaks lies.]
1 Corinthians 13:7 [love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.]
Ephesians 4:15 […but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– NKJV]
COMMITMENT: I will believe and act upon the last words we spoke concerning our relationship and live as if you will do the same. If anything changes on my part, I will inform you.
QUESTION: Did you forget or disregard what we last spoke to one another concerning our relationship?
(5) THE FRIENDSHIP PRINCIPLE
God is the only one who knows what is in a man’s heart. One should not expect that a friend discern what is happening inside of him. Therefore, the need to be understood is met with friends communicating one with another.
Proverbs 17:17 [A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.]
COMMITMENT: I will befriend you by being honest. I will not expect you to interpret my actions or recognise my heart’s condition. It is my responsibility to approach you if I need your help.
QUESTION: Are you offended that I did not recognise you were troubled?