Wednesday, September 7, 2022

How To Not Mess Up A Relationship!

Dear Friends,

God created us to be in relationship with Him and to be in relationship with each other. God intersects our lives with the lives of others and has handpicked those other souls to be the ones  with whom we share our lives. He has chosen them to become a part of who we are and to walk with us for awhile on this journey called life. 

By birth and by happenstance, God gives us loved ones – family and friends – those who have been given to us and those to whom we have been given. And here's the way it seems to work. God creates our relationships with others and then, too often, we go and mess them up. Trust me in this. I’m an expert in messing up relationships.

If I close my eyes, I see a kaleidoscope of faces. The ghost relationships from my past. I whisper to my ghosts a plea for their forgiveness and can only hope they have done so. Not for my sake but for theirs. I wish I could tell them that at the time, I was clueless about God’s relationship rules.

From my first teenage crush on Kris Busch, the cute, red-haired girl at church, I've messed up more relationships than I’m comfortable thinking about. I've also had to helplessly watch far too many times as a friend or loved one messed up their relationship with me beyond repair. But no matter who gets the credit for muddling it up, every single one of my messed up relationships got messed up for the same reason. Someone wasn’t following the rules.

Here's the interesting thing that sometimes happens to people who have learned from their own messiness: God uses their experience to help others. He comforts (and guides) us in our troubles that we may comfort and help others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT So, at a previous church, many, many years ago, God transformed the guy (me), who was proficient at messing up relationships, into a counseling pastor and brought me into the lives of those who were trying to repair their own wounded or broken relationships. 

My pastoral job was to help them understand how they got there in the first place, show them how they might be able to restore their messed up relationship and have healthier relationships in the future. Of course, whether it was between two spouses, parent and child, friends, co-workers or even themselves and their boss, the dysfunctional relationships had become fragile and fragmented for the exact same reason. They weren't following the rules.

On Amazon there are over 150,000 books on marriage and dating relationships, but you need only one book and it's already in your home. You know the book I'm talking about. It has everything that you'll ever need to know in order to have successful and fulfilling relationships with others. But it's a big book and I'll simplify things for you. Take a look at the enclosed. (If you are the person who resists following “rules” because they interfere with your personal freedom, then this AMEN Corner isn’t for you.) But if you do want the blessings from living out your relationship God’s way, then these One-Anothers will help you to do that.

Every relationship...Without exception...Every relationship gets messed up when people don't follow the rules of the “One-Another.” If both in a marriage made a three-way covenant with each other and with God to follow the biblical One-Anothers, and both sincerely worked at doing that, they would divorce-proof that relationship and it would truly be a marriage made in heaven. That’s guaranteed!

But in a marriage, we sometimes find ourselves “unequally yoked” 2 Corinthians 6:14 due to circumstances or decisions when we married or because we and our spouse have found ourselves on two different spiritual life-paths. If a spouse is unwilling to commit to following the One-Anothers with you, many times we can use the list as a diagnostic tool to see if there’s something we can do differently in order to improve the relationship. God tells us to imitate Him and walk in love Ephesians 5:1-2 because our Christ-like behavior will often inspire others to be like us.

The biblical One-Anothers are directed to all Christians and show us how to be Christ-like in all of our relationships with each other, but I’ve found this list to be especially helpful for a married couple working to restore or rejuvenate their relationship. And, it takes both husband and wife who are told by Paul to “..submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (meaning a mutual submission). Ephesians 5:21-33 NLT (see note) Two people are to accept one another, love one another, encourage each other and pray for each other and there are twenty-five One-Anothers in our Bible! Relationships can be incredibly easy and fulfilling and free of contention and strife. All you have to do is to follow God's rules. Amen?


in Scripture hold a wealth of guidance for our relationships with loved ones, friends and all those who God has brought into our lives – those who have been given to us and to whom we have been given. If we practiced these “one–anothers,” we’d have far fewer problems in our relationships.
“Be at peace with each other.” Mark 9:50 
“Love one another.” John 13:34
“Be devoted to one another.” Romans 12:10
“Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10
“Stop passing judgement on one another.” Romans 14:13
“Accept one another.” Romans 15:7
Instruct one another.” Romans 15:14
“Greet one another.” Romans 16:16
“Serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13
“Carry each other’s burdens.” Galatians 6:2
“Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
“Be kind and compassionate to one another.” Ephesians 4:32
“Forgive each other.” Ephesians 4:32
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” Ephesians 5:19
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21
“In humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
“Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16
“Encourage each other.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18
“Build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24
“Do not slander one another.” James 4:11
“Don’t grumble against one another.” James 5:9
“Confess your sins to each other.” James 5:16
“Pray for each other.” James 5:16
“Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” 1 Peter 5:5

 Note: The Biblical teaching of submission in marriage has been sadly misunderstood and misused and, in some marriages, has resulted in un-Christ-like behavior and abuse. I strongly recommend reading this entire passage of scripture in the New Living Translation for a clear understanding of what a Godly marriage looks like.

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God's word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. As the Scriptures say, "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one." This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33 NLT

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