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3 Principles for Christians’ Interacting With Others – Spiritual Growth
In this complex society, we have to deal with all kinds of people every day. Each person’s personality, hobbies, habits, temperament, etc. are all different, so in our interactions some conflicts and misunderstandings will inevitably arise. Getting along well with others is not easy—this brings great difficulties to our work and life, and can be physically or mentally damaging to various degrees. Though this is very distressing for many people, they also feel like their hands are tied, and there are quite a few Christians who are no exception. So what exactly should we do to achieve harmony in our interactions? Here we will share simple fellowship on three principles. If our practice is in line with these three principles below, these headache-inducing interpersonal issues will surely be resolved.
The first principle of getting along with others is to love each other. The Lord Jesus taught us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). It is recorded in Matthew 18:21–22, “Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” From these verses we can see that the Lord requires us to love each other, have a forgiving heart, and be tolerant of others’ mistakes. Since we’re all of different ages, of different calibers, we have different hobbies and backgrounds, plus we all have some weaknesses and shortcomings, if the foundation of our interpersonal relationships is built upon mutual love and we consider things from others’ perspectives, we will encounter fewer conflicts and misunderstandings and will be able to get along well with others. Some people have love for others and a compassionate heart; they love to help others and are able to comfort those who are suffering and experiencing hardships. People like this please God and others are fond of them as well. However, those who lack love for others and always think of their own interests cannot possibly get along well with others. Even if they do have love for others, it is temporary and conditional, and they only help and are tolerant of those who are kind to them and have never hurt them. Once someone hurts them or infringes upon their interests, though they may appear tolerant on the outside, in their heart they are filled with dissatisfaction and hatred. They can’t practice the Lord’s way. They are detested by God and disliked by people. Therefore we should practice the Lord’s words in our interactions, and love others as we love ourselves, as the Lord requires; only then will we be able to interact harmoniously with others. But perhaps there will still be times we’re unable to willingly be tolerant of, patient with, and forgiving of others. What’s required of us in this sort of situation is to pray more to the Lord and ask Him to give us a heart of genuine tolerance and love for others. When we truly rely on the Lord to practice tolerance and patience, our prejudices and dissatisfactions with others in our hearts will gradually disappear. However, there are also principles for loving others as we love ourselves. God does not want us to love others blindly. It’s just like how the Lord Jesus was full of mercy and love toward His believers and followers, while He was full of condemnation and curses for those hypocritical Pharisees who opposed God. The Lord’s different attitudes toward these two kinds of people embody God’s righteous disposition. Therefore, we should treat brothers and sisters who truly believe in God and practice the Lord’s words with great sincerity; we should be loving and helpful. As for Satan’s forces that oppose and condemn God, we should draw clear boundaries and clearly distinguish between love and hate.
The second principle is to treat others properly. The Lord Jesus said, “And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3–5). When we are in conflict with others, we always feel that the other person is wrong or the problem is with them. In fact, at these times we are living within our satanic disposition of arrogance and self-righteousness; we’re being entirely self-centered and looking down on others. We’re unable to treat others objectively and fairly. This is why we should first resolve our own corrupt dispositions, reflect on and know our own shortcomings and deficiencies, and seek the truth that we should enter into; only then can we treat others properly. If we always fixate our gaze on others’ shortcomings, we will never be able to get along well with anyone. For example, we tend to see our family members’ shortcomings when we spend time with them; we feel like our spouse doesn’t know how to take care of others, they are inconsiderate, the food they make isn’t to our taste, our child is temperamental and hard to discipline, and so on; when we are with our colleagues and friends, we find that one of our colleagues is selfish, another one tends to judge others behind their backs, or some friend likes to take advantage of others, etc. This is often distressing for us because we do not know how to get along with them. In fact, regardless of whether others’ personality and behaviors are compatible with our preferences or not, we should not be prejudiced against them and just treat them however we like. We are all people who have been corrupted by Satan; we ourselves possess quite a few problems just as others do, so how are we qualified in any way to make demands of others? Additionally, God has bestowed different strengths and advantages upon every one of us in the hope that we can absorb the strengths of others to make up for our shortcomings. Only by doing so can we progress more quickly. Once we have this kind of understanding, when others do something that we do not like, we can deny ourselves, not ask too much of others, and not force what we think is right on others. Instead, we can consciously discover others’ strengths and absorb their positive qualities—this is how we can treat others properly. Furthermore, in our actions we should not only think of ourselves, but we should also be considerate toward others, learn to care for others more often, and let others benefit. Only then can we get along well with others.
The third principle of harmonious interaction with others is to not focus on life philosophies, but instead, focus on establishing a proper relationship with God. In real life, we often use satanic philosophies of life to maintain our relationships with others, such as, “Think before you speak and then talk with reservation,” “One more friend means one more path; one more enemy means one more obstacle,” “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” and so on. When we base our interactions with others on these life philosophies, we curry favor and engage in flattery with others so that we can maintain a good relationship with them. We only talk about their good points and dare not point out their shortcomings; we protect our interpersonal relationships even if it means going against the principles of the truth. The Lord detests this kind of behavior, because what we exalt are Satan’s philosophies, not the Lord’s words. What the Lord requires of us is the ability to have a proper relationship with Him and do everything in accordance with His words, such as being honest people in line with His requirements, and not saying anything false in our interactions or ingratiating ourselves with others. He also requires that when we see brothers and sisters do things that are not in line with or violate the Lord’s teachings, we should help them out of love; we should not be afraid to offend them but instead point out their mistakes and help them resolve their problems. In short, all of our interactions should be established on the foundation of the Lord’s teachings. We should put into practice whatever the Lord requires of us. No matter who we are interacting with, we must be able to directly face the Lord and accept His scrutiny. Only with this kind of practice can we have a proper relationship with the Lord. Once we have a proper relationship with the Lord, our relationships with other people will become proper as well, and then we’ll get along harmoniously with others very naturally.
Above are the three principles of practice regarding harmonious interactions with others that we as Christians should enter into. If we are able to frequently put these three principles into practice, many of our difficulties with others will be easily resolved, what we live out will gain the Lord’s praise, and we will become people who bring joy to the Lord.
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