Joy in Our Relationships
Psalms 133:1 says “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Our theme for this year is joy. So far in our monthly newsletter we have covered the vision of joy and the theme of joy. This month I want to encourage you to strive to maintain joy in your personal relationships because it is “good and pleasant for us to dwell together in unity.” Personal relationships inside the church can be a source of great joy and blessing. Loneliness is the alternative. Loneliness is the starvation of the soul that comes from living off the substitutes of social media and the sense of “belonging” in a story or the life of a TV show. The soap opera or primetime TV family becomes the source of “fellowship” for many; they are living off of substitutes. They are satisfied with social media and entertainment when God offers them joy and fellowship in the real family of God. Joy in the fellowship of the church should be normal and expected, but this is not always the case. The joy in personal relationships is not automatic, it must be maintained.
Though we have been made new as Christians, every once in a while the old sinful nature rears its ugly head and causes a rift in our relationships. James 3:2 says, “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” The truth is, sometimes we offend others with our words and actions and we cause a break in the fellowship. God has given us the remedy to restore the relationship.
Two passages give us clear instruction on how to begin the process of reconciliation so that the joy of fellowship may be restored. Matthew 18:15, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” Luke 17:3 says, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” The simple steps to restore a relationship are:
- If your brother has wronged you, go to him.
- Do not tell anyone else about this conflict.
- Go directly to your brother alone.
- Tell him, as a brother, what is bothering you and by God’s grace you gain a brother.
Paul followed these steps as he pursued joy in his relationships with God and man in Acts 24:16, “ And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” The reason why relationships are broken and joy is lost is because we do not follow God’s instructions in resolving personal conflict, but instead follow this pattern:
- You fret and stew over how you have been wronged.
- You seek another’s opinion to see if you have a case.
- You ask another Christian to pray about it with you.
- You discuss it with a pastor or a deacon.
- You avoid the issue and the offending brother.
To maintain joy in your personal relationships you must gain your brother. God’s way is better—gain thy brother and maintain the joy!