Growing Together

February 2014: A Word From Dr. Stanley

Relationships are among God’s greatest blessings. Just imagine how empty life would be if you were alone on a deserted island and had no one to speak or rejoice with.

This blessing, however, can also be the source of some of our biggest challenges. That’s why we need to carefully consider how we treat others at home, in church, on the job, and in public. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit to help us interact in ways that bless others and honor the Lord.

We also have God’s Word to instruct and guide us in our relationships. First Peter 3:8 tells us to live in harmony with one another. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone about everything. The Lord created us with all kinds of personalities and abilities. We’ve had different experiences and see life from unique perspectives. But rather than focus on our differences, we can choose to blend together, the way choir members harmonize while singing a hymn. God has graciously given us one another, and without companionship, we can’t thrive in life.

God instructs us to pursue peace and give a blessing—even to those who don’t deserve it.

At times, though, our relationships seem more grating than gratifying. How does God want us to respond when faced with insults, conflicts, or mistreatment? As difficult as it may seem, He instructs us to pursue peace and give a blessing—even to those who don’t deserve it (vv. 9-11). There have been times when I’ve wanted to defend myself against affronts, but the Lord told me to hold my tongue and trust Him to be my defender. I’ve discovered that refusing to be drawn into a heated argument is a profound witness to others. Sometimes, in fact, God actually puts us in sticky situations just so we can demonstrate love toward those who mistreat us.

As Christ’s ambassadors on earth, we have a responsibility to represent Him with our conduct, words, and attitudes. Those who don’t know the Lord are more influenced by how kindly we treat our fellow man than how much Scripture we know. Living peacefully and harmoniously with others will not only improve your relationships; it will also fill your life with blessings and joy. So praise God for the people He’s placed on your path, and commit to helping them grow in Christlikeness—even as you strive to do the same.

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