By Zhang Liang
In the church, brothers and sisters all have different characters and hobbies, and everyone’s caliber and view of matters are also different. It is impossible to avoid many disagreements when we live together for a long time. If we are unable to grasp the related truth and the principles, then we not only have no way to get along well with others, but also feel very miserable and tired. So what should we do to be able to establish good relationships with brothers and sisters?
1. We should not practice life philosophies but establish normal interpersonal relationships in line with the principles of the truth.
In our contact with others we generally don’t seek how to accord with, but rely on Satan’s life philosophies, such as “Speak good words in harmony with others’ feelings and reason, as being frank annoys others” and “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” to protect our interpersonal relationships. For example, in the church, when we meet the upper-level leader, we will say something that is pleasant to hear to ingratiate ourselves with him; when we see some of our brothers and sisters are rich and powerful, we will flatter and fawn over them. If they get along well with us, even if we have seen that they have shortcomings, we won’t give direction to help them correct the problems. Instead, we will carefully protect the relationships with them. Even though they do something that harms the benefit of the church, we will still say some words that are contrary to our convictions to cover up for them. What we do has run counter to God’s teaching, which not only can’t bring us God’s blessings but also make us be detested and rejected by the Lord, so that our spirits sink downward and we are unable to feel the Lord’s presence and have no peace and joy in our hearts. We are just in contact with brothers and sisters on the surface instead of speaking our minds to each other and truly providing for each other in our spiritual lives; we feel that we live such a hard and tiring life. These are the consequences that are given to us from our maintaining interpersonal relationships by Satan’s life philosophies.
Then how can we establish normal interpersonal relationships with brothers and sisters? God’s word says, “When your relationship with God has become normal, then you will also have a normal relationship with people. … Be just and honorable when doing all things and make them presentable before God.” “Whenever you do or say anything, you must put your heart right, be righteous, and not be led by your emotions, or act according to your own will. These are the principles by which believers in God conduct themselves.” From God’s word we know that when we interact with others, we should take God’s words as the norm in everything. And we need to practice His words when we encounter issues. For example, in the church there is a co-worker who gets along with us. Sometimes the things he says and does transgress the truth and the principles, are not beneficial to other brothers and sisters, and are not after the Lord’s heart. How do we deal with such situations? At this time we need to pray to God and seek His will in His word. When we recognize that following our emotions and protecting our relationship with him is Satan’s life philosophy and is despised by God, we should be considerate of God’s will, raise the issue with him in a spirit of love and kindness and let him know the harm and consequences of his words and actions. In this way we not only protect the benefit of the church, but also protect the lives of brothers and sisters from suffering loss. Moreover, we can help him understand God’s will and make him come before God to know himself so that he can go through better changes. This is the true love for brothers and sisters. Meanwhile, it is also satisfying God’s will. As thesays, “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27: 5-6).
2. We should possess normal humanity and be able to love, respect, understand, tolerate and exercise patience with one another.
Thesaid, “A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). In real life, sometimes we will push the Lord’s words to the back of our minds. We often fixate our eyes on others’ flaws and shortcomings, and always compare our strengths to other people’s weaknesses. It is okay for us to get along with others for a few days. But after a long time, when we see others’ shortcomings, we come to feel disgusted, thinking that they are hard to get along with. As a result, we can’t get along well with most people. Just as when some brothers and sisters have done some ignorant things because they are weak, we generate resentment or complaint toward them, and don’t help them with a loving heart. Sometimes if their words hurt us, we will have a grudge against them and be stewing instead of practicing tolerance and patience; and so on. These are expressions of having no normal humanity. If we get along with others in this way, gradually we will hold secrets in our hearts, remain friendly in appearance but estranged at heart. As a consequence, we will have no normal interpersonal relationships.
If a brother sins against us, we get angry at once and cannot tolerate him. At the time we need to come in front of God and pray to Him, “Oh, God! The brother’s words have hurt me, and they are too difficult to bear. I feel so annoyed that I neither want to talk to him nor want to forgive him. But I know that this is not in keeping with Your will. Please help and guide me to live by Your word, so that I can put down my grudge against him and live in front of You.” After our, we ponder: How should I treat him to be after God’s heart? God says, “Whether you have truly renounced the flesh, depends on whether you are prejudiced toward your brothers and sisters, and on whether, if you are, you can push such prejudices aside. … you will not loathe them, despise them, make fun of them, or give them the cold shoulder. If you are able to be of service to them, you will commune with them….” When we carefully examine why we always hold biases against others, we will find the reason is that we are too arrogant. We only allow others to speak or do something beneficial to us, but if what they do affect our interests, we will develop prejudices toward them and can’t exercise patience and tolerance. When we practice according to God’s word, take the initiative to open up our own corruption to them, and communicate our own experience and knowledge, they will also recognize the truth that they should practice and enter into. As such, we all live in front of God depending on His word, and also become tolerant and patient for brothers and sisters. Then gradually we can love each other and be in normal relationships.
3. We should seek to be an honest person, and be able to open our heart and speak the words in our heart.
In our lives we often lie and deceive for the sake of our own benefit. We are neither willing to open up our minds, nor willing to show our own ugly faces to the brothers and sisters, even though sometimes we obviously know that we are lying. In this way we just get along with brothers and sisters on the surface, instead of being an honest person to speak our minds to each other. Therefore, they cannot see through our hearts and then gradually stay away from us; meanwhile, we are unable to get real trust of them. Over time it makes our interpersonal relationships quite embarrassing.
God’s word says, “If the brothers and sisters are to be able to confide in each other, help each other out, and provide for one another when they are together, then each person must speak of their own true experiences. If you don’t talk of your own true experiences, and only speak high-sounding words, and words that are doctrinal and superficial, then you are not honest, and you are incapable of being honest. … If people have no verbal or spiritual communication, there is no possibility of intimacy between them, and they can’t provide to each other or help one another.” When brothers and sisters get together, we should not pretend or package ourselves, but talk about our own true experiences. We open our hearts and communicate our own thoughts and minds, difficulties and situations, experience and knowledge of God’s word, and our own corrupt disposition, letting everyone accept positive things and discern negative things. When the brothers and sisters see our hearts and our true faces, we are to be able to confide and trust in each other. In this way, gradually, our interpersonal relationships will thus achieve normality.
4. We should treat others correctly—neither thinking too highly of others nor disparaging others, but being able to treat them both fairly and impartially.
In our contact with others, we are always unable to treat others fairly and impartially, but are either tilted in this one or that one. This is a practical issue existing in each of us. If we treat others in this way, we will never interact normally with others. As time passes, the result is that the brothers and sisters can’t get along well with each other, but cause all kinds of strife and exclude one another. We will feel tired in contact with people this way, and in the end we will not gain God’s praise.
God’s words say, “You cannot treat your brothers and sisters in the same way as the unbelievers treat others; you must treat them fairly and reasonably. You cannot be close to this one, but not that one; you cannot form cliques or collude with others; you cannot bully someone because you have taken a dislike to them, and fawn on those who are strong—this is what is meant by this principle. You must be principled in the way you deal with other people; you must treat them all fairly.” God requires that we cannot be close to one but not the other one in treating brothers and sisters. No matter they are of a high or a low caliber, foolish or wise, poor or rich, we should treat them fairly, neither overestimating nor underestimating any of them. We shouldn’t hold on to the momentary transgressions of them and make a big fuss and determine them as guilty. On the contrary, we should have tolerance, patience and love and treat everyone with equality instead of having prejudice, and we shouldn’t make excessive demands of them. Seeing that we have revealed quite a few corrupt dispositions, we have the resolution to repent and change. Also, we should believe the brothers and sisters have such a resolution to achieve changes. If we can often practice like this, our contact with the brothers and sisters will be more and more harmonious and in line with God’s will. And with God’s love accompanying us, our interpersonal relationships will surely become more and more normal.
If we grasp these four principles of getting along with others, our interpersonal relationships will be more and more proper, and our hearts will be more and more relaxed, liberated and free. All the glory be to God!