Cultivation of good relationships with fellow believers

This is taken from column “Now, That is a Good Question!” of the PCC Bulletin, 18 May 2008. References of Bible verses have been copied as well. May it be helpful to you.

Q: In a nutshell, what would you recommend for the cultivation of good relationships with fellow believers?

A: I must confess that I am still a student on this subject who can hardly speak authoritatively on it. But let me try to give a list of pointers from the Scriptures that I will use to remind myself. Hopefully, it will be useful for you too.

  1. Think of others as charitably as possible. Be extremely reluctant to conclude malice or “hidden agenda” in those who interact with you (Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.–Philippians 2:3-4)
  2. Maintain a forgiving spirit. Even if you believe someone has wronged you, seek to hold no grudge even if he did not seek forgiveness (Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.–Luke 23:34; Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.–Romans 12:19)
  3. Refuse to speak evil about anyone, refrain from countering slander with slander. Blessed are the meek (To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.–Titus 3:2). If you have nothing good to say, better say nothing.
  4. Be swift to hear, slow to speak (Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.–James 1:19)
  5. Seek to build up rather than tear down with the tongue (Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.–Ephesians 4:29; If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.–Jms 1:26). Before saying anything to anyone, ask (a) Is it necessary? (b) Is it true? (c) It is kind?
  6. Make a few promises, seek to keep them faithfully and as soon as possible (cf. When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?–2 Corinthians 1:17). Better to do what you did not agree to do, then to agree on something and then forget to do it (But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.–Matthew 21:28-32)
  7. Flatter not, but do not allow any opportunity to compliment or to say anything encouraging slip by (A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.–Proverbs 29:5; cf. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.–Matthew 25:21; But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.–Matthew 5:44, where ‘bless’ can be translated ‘compliment’)
  8. Admonish when necessary, but do so sparingly, recognizing that you can see the mote in your brother’s eyes more clearly than you can see the beam in your own eye (He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.–Proverbs 29:1; And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?–Matthew 7:3). Refuse to admonish when you are an aggrieved party. Let others do it.
  9. Refuse to be defensive when admonished. Humble yourself and say rather, “Thanks for highlighting it, let me think about it.” (A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.–Proverbs 29:23; And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.–Matthew 23:12; But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”–James 4:6). Then examine yourself before the Lord, and seek to change if what is said is true.
  10. Refrain from ‘pulling weight’ when you are in a position of authority, but always deal respectfully with those men who have authority over you even if you feel they do not deserve your respect (To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”–1 Peter 5:1-5).

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