Each one of us struggles at one time or another with our relationships. They can be a source of great joy and contentment, but they can also be frustrating and inadequate. Perhaps you argue with your husband, can’t talk to your teenager, wish you had a better relationship with your parents, barely survive your toddler’s temper tantrums or wish your neighbour’s were easier to get on with?
You may wonder what the Bible would have to say about relationships, yet God’s advice is practical and relevant to us today.
It can be ok to feel angry (some anger in the Bible is just) – however, it’s what you do and how you handle it that matters:
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger… (Ephesians 4:26)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20)
Have you managed to make the transition from “child and parent” to “parents as friends”, or is your relationship with your parents still a work in progress?
A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother. (Proverbs 15:20)
Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. (Ephesians 6:2-3)
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
Marriage was originally designed by God and the Bible is full of advice for the married, and those who would like to be:
When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband entrusting his heart to her has an unfailing prize. (Proverbs 31:10-11)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)
Raising children is a challenging role, full of joy and tears!
Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3)
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. (Proverbs 29:17)
The Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Proverbs 3:12)
We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power and the wonders he has done. (Psalm 78:4)
Relationships with neighbours can be difficult and frustrating, yet God offers clear advice to help resolve the conflict:
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
A man’s wisdom gives him patience: it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:43-45)
God’s love for us
The most rewarding relationship of all is the one we can have with God through his son, Jesus Christ:
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:5)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. (Psalm 103:11)