God made man in his own likeness and image. God made man relational. With these two facts firmly in mind we must realize that God is also relational. He wants to have relationships with each of us. I for one am glad He does. I’ve always enjoyed friendships and companionship. I have especially enjoyed spending time with people who are smarter and more interesting than me. God definitely fits that description. I love talking to God and allowing Him to show Himself amazing to me. I know from reading my Bible that He loves those times even more than I do. What about the other relationships in our lives? Do they have anything to do with the first relationship? Should they?
I say yes! And Yes! Every one of our relationships can be improved by simply involving God. You may be thinking right now that I’m going to preach to you about preaching to everybody you know, but don’t worry. That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that the Word of God has tons of great advice for those of us with relationships. It doesn’t matter what kind they are, spouses, children, parents, friends, co-workers, students, teachers, even acquaintances, all can be affected by your willingness to obey the word of God.
There is one verse that my pastor quotes to EVERYBODY who comes into his office for any kind of relational help. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” There it is! The best kept secret to successful relationships is written clearly in black and white in every printed Bible.
We often think that this advice is not fair because, “we should be able to be ‘ourselves’ with our closest relations.” But please understand that there is a difference between being yourself and being unwholesome in your communications. Your self is shy or outgoing, spontaneous or deliberate. You might always be eager to share your ideas or you might desire to keep them to yourself. Who you are has little to do with your behavior. My family saw a movie once that has a line we love to quote, “You are not a bad person. This is just VERY BAD behavior.” Hollywood actually got this one right. Our behavior does not define us.
We can always share our feelings in ways that do not tear down those around us. We can always address problems in ways that even build up the person being corrected. The beauty of all this is that when we do this, when we build up even while correcting, the person listens. The person receiving correction is actually more likely to correct the problem, without getting defense and without fighting the change.
Please keep in mind that Ephesians 4:29 is actually talking about two things: no unwholesome talk AND talk which is helpful for building others up. This isn’t the only time the author of Ephesians mentions the way people speak to one another. In Ephesians 5:4, he says, “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” It’s pretty easy to understand what Paul means when he objects to obscenity and coarse joking. We call them something like foul language and dirty jokes. Foolish talk might be a little more confusing.
To understand what Paul is talking about when he warns against foolish talk one must understand the word “foolish” as used in the Bible. It does not mean childish or even silly. I have found the word “foolish” used 56 times. Each time it is describing a person (or people group) who has done something they knew they should not have or has not done something they knew that they should. Foolishness is rebellion. Foolish talk, therefore, will be anything rebellious. Anytime we gossip: foolish talk. Anytime we advocate or glorify sin: foolish talk.
I love that in both these scriptures he doesn’t just tell us what not to do, but includes what we should do. We should be talking about things that build one another up and show thankfulness. What could be more simple?
To find out more about Total Access Relationships join us at the Finish Well 12 Homeschooling High School Conference! For information check us out at http://finishwellcon.com/