God's purpose in creating Adam and Eve was to build a community of people to have fellowship with each other and their Creator! Everything God created has a unique beauty to glorify his name. God is glorified when we live in harmony and love, respecting and caring for each other.
Adam and Eve loved each other and enjoyed their intimate fellowship with God for a while. God restored this broken relationship through Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross. With a revived soul and heart, we now speak directly to our Father in heaven like his children.
God desires to see healthy relationships. He wants us to build and maintain friendships and bless and touch the lives of many. God has called us on a mission. He has chosen us to be his ambassadors and share the Good News of salvation with others to revive lives. We can't force people to listen to us, nor can we change their minds. Instead, when our talk matches our honorable walk of life, they see, trust and follow the Lord. It's such a bliss seeing people come to know the Lord and find a joyful and peaceful life! God's utmost desire is to see everyone saved and receives eternal life.
Building long-lasting friendships is an art. It requires knowledge and wisdom and sometimes deems only possible by making sacrifices and spending time, but it's rewarding. The following are a few suggestions to help us succeed in our mission:
Listen: Think about what people say and avoid dominating the conversation. Listening is an art that requires patience and practice to master. When you want to respond, try speaking after a 2-second pause. That makes your audience feel respected. If you pay attention while others talk, they will listen to you when you speak!
Notice the positive things: You can observe many good things in people by careful listening and observation. Then, commend them when you notice or hear something good.
Empathize: People don’t usually talk about their painful experiences, but will share more deeply as the friendship deepens. Be careful not to poke into their lives. Instead, empathize with them; for example, you may say, “So sorry to hear that. It should have been hard on you”. Ask them how they feel now.
Do not leak out people’s secrets: Once your friends see you are trustworthy, they will trust you more. However, keeping people’s secrets is serious; don’t share them with anyone, not even your loved ones, without prior permission.
Delightful Conversation: Provide concise and meaningful answers, and don’t let a conversation turn into a debate. We are at war with evil, which will use all tricks to lure us into engaging in a different and divisive conversation. Avoid answering an unrelated or divisive question and falling into a trap, even if you have a solid and convincing answer. Instead, focus on what you had in mind about sharing your faith. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so. When responding to a question, remember that the entire audience listens to you, not just the person who asked the question. People hear your response in your words, body language, respect for your opponents, and calm and loving attitude. Admitting that you don't know everything invites others to engage.
Taking One’s Side: When there is a debate between different groups, one group may try to fit you into their group to take their side, especially when arguing political views. So try to avoid answering questions that create more tension and division, even if you fundamentally agree with one group.
Can't win all. Although you should be the first to initiate a friendship with others, you can't expect everyone to like you and accept your company! That is the reality!
People and Doctrines: It’s unfair to judge people who don't know what they do is wrong. For example, one may not realize that losing a temper or getting drunk is a bad habit and sinful. So, instead, share the biblical truth lovingly. But suppose someone misinterprets the Bible and teaches against the principal doctrine of the Bible. In that case, you want to rebuke them in public without reservation so that everyone becomes aware and stops spreading false teachings. So, for example, if someone teaches that homosexuality is OK, that is against the principal doctrine of the Bible.
When helping someone understand what they do is wrong, you may share examples from your past. For example, if you had a drinking problem, you may say, "Many years ago, I used to get drunk because I didn't know it was wrong and damaging to my family. But when Jesus came into my life, he opened my mind and gave me strength to avoid getting drunk again."
Admitting and Apologizing: We may be tempted to hide our mistakes to look perfect. But that is not a godly lifestyle. We'd rather be honest than be afraid of apologizing; because admitting our mistakes and apologizing is a sign of strength! When people see our truthfulness, they will draw closer to our Lord!
Accusations! We may have grown up in a home or a society where our siblings, friends, coworkers, spouses, and parents constantly accused us and each other. So we learned to defend ourselves habitually by blaming others, especially our accusers!
Jesus came not to accuse but to forgive us and have an exemplary changed life. Now that we are born again, if someone accuses us falsely, we keep our cool and simply respond with "That is not true" without accusing our accusers! People prefer to be friends with those who are calm and non-judgmental.
Words have power: The spoken words of God created the whole universe! Since we were created in the image of God, what comes out of our mouths has power. So when we say something, either positive or negative, whether it is about ourselves or others, we reap the fruit of our words first! The moment we think and say something negative, it starts poisoning us! And when we say something positive, it heals and builds our inner being! Positivity honors our Heavenly Father!!
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalms 19:14 (NKJV)
Ridicule! Our new lives and lifestyles represent God’s love. While it’s easy to be respectful toward people who like us, it may be hard to resist the temptation of making fun of our opponents. But God is honored when we stay calm and keep an optimistic and courteous attitude toward everyone. Therefore, we pray when we face criticism and rejection or when people accuse us falsely. These are critical moments the audience will keep watching our responses. Please remember that our dignity and tone of voice speak much louder than words!
The news media constantly make fun of people they disagree with. Unfortunately, watching or listening to the news may inadvertently influence our good hearts, and we may feel persuaded to ridicule others. But the Scripture instructs us to speak respectfully of all people:
“Blessed is the man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand on the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in Yahweh’s law. On his law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the streams of water, that produces its fruit in its season, whose leaf also does not wither. Whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalms 1:1-3
Pray! It’d be wonderful to pray not once but for a week or a month for those who asked for our prayers. It’s a good habit to add their names to our prayer list so we don’t forget to pray regularly. Then follow up with them by phone or face-to-face and find out how they do. This is how we show we care for them!
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- God is glorified when we live in harmony and respect everyone.
- When we do wrong, we shouldn’t admit every mistake since people may take advantage of us.
- True! Our loving and respectful relationship with each other Glorifies God!
- False! We should always apologize when we hurt someone, even if no one complains.