Editors Note: This article is written by BCC Counselor, Jack Lezza as part of our series on Relational Health. In this series, our counselors are sharing biblical principles to strengthen and improve all kinds of relationships.
One only has to turn on the news to know that the world today is fraught with conflict. From shootings to domestic issues, violence has plagued mankind since Genesis 3. We have been trained even in literature class that every good story has in it some sort of conflict. As fallen humanity, we cannot avoid conflict, but we seem to get trapped in it while it destroys the quality of our interpersonal relationships.
My marriage got off to a rough start. From my earliest memories, I can recall the fighting of my parents. My sister and I would hide in the closet as my mother and father fought. One of my most vivid memories was coming home to see my dad’s white van and excitedly running to greet him, only to catch a glimpse of the horrible fight that was taking place in the house. These images were seared into my memory and caused me to dream of a relationship that would be free of fighting and full of peace and love. My dad ended up leaving our family and we became a single-parent home.
My aunt had recently received Christ as her Savior and started attending a good church. We began to visit and soon moved out to where the church was located and became members. I met a girl there who became my best friend. We could talk easily and freely. She was fun and disciplined, which I knew I needed. I imagined her being a great mom. We were friends all through elementary and in high school, dated on and off, and went away to the same college.
I ended up marrying the girl of my dreams, and just as every Disney movie has it, I thought there would be a “happily ever after.” That’s not what happened though. We were two young selfish people who wanted peace on our own terms, but where there is no righteousness, there can be no peace.
The days were filled with work, schedules, and selfish leisure time, and we both had ideas of how that should all go. Yet, we didn’t really communicate it well except in frustration, hurt, anger, and manipulation. This eroded a strong friendship to where we could hardly speak peaceably to each other.
Eventually, my wife and I separated for two months and we were certain that we were headed for divorce.
God, in His mercy, got ahold of each of us separately and we ended up repenting and reconciling with God and each other. We began to rebuild the relationship on biblical principles. God not only put our marriage back together but He has also put us in the ministry and allowed us to help many other marriages (2 Cor. 1:3-4). We have served in ministry at the same church for 20 years and God has blessed us with four kids who we are encouraging to follow Jesus with their whole hearts.
Healthy Relational Attitudes in Jesus’ Own Words
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides us a blueprint for living life successfully. More than getting what we want out of life, we experience joy and freedom when our desires and actions align with God’s heart. Our relationships can only be healthy to the extent that our hearts reflect the example of Christ.
Jesus gave us 4 internal and 4 external attitudes that are essential for us to live as true citizens of His kingdom. He desires to make His citizens righteous and therefore producing peace. He accomplishes this by putting His Spirit in each believer which produces a change in our attitude toward God and our neighbor. If we are going to have true peace in our interpersonal relationships, we will need to travel the path of the Beatitudes and pursue these attitudes in our own personal life.
Internal Attitudes Toward God (Love God)
- Poor in Spirit – Citizens of Jesus’ kingdom realize who they truly are and how they are completely sinful, with no merit that would earn God’s favor.
- Mourn over Sin – Citizens of Jesus’ kingdom see their sin accurately and hate the way it controls them and how they think.
- Meek – Citizens of Jesus’ kingdom surrender and are willing to be governed or live for the will of another (God’s will).
- Hungry for Righteousness – Citizens of Jesus’ kingdom see God as He is biblically and admire Him.
External Attitudes Toward Man (Love Your Neighbor)
- Merciful – Citizens of Jesus’ kingdom show forbearance or mercy to their neighbor because they realize they have received mercy.
- Pure – Citizens of Jesus’ kingdom are whole-hearted and loyal to loving Jesus and seeking His kingdom first.
- Peacemakers – Citizens of Jesus’ kingdom are humble and experience the peace of God in their hearts because they are saved and forgiven. They also have Jesus’ goal of reconciliation or peacemaking as their highest goal.
- Persecuted – Citizens of Jesus’ kingdom are not deterred from their goal even in the face of severe opposition.
Healthy Relational Attitudes Transform Your Conflict
As a person travels this path of understanding and growth, there is a distinct change in the way they view conflict. When two people are submitted and at peace with God, there is no such thing as “irreconcilable differences.” There is perfect unity in the Trinity and there is no reason that the Spirit of God in me cannot get along with the Spirit of God in any other believer. The rubs always come when each believer returns to serving their own will.
It is not enough to just compromise or to take turns getting your way. Real citizens of Jesus’ kingdom are transformed from the inside out, and there is true submission to God and His will which brings about all the blessings from this beatitude list.
- Seeing God
- Becoming like God
Healthy Relational Attitudes Bring Hope
If you are looking for hope in your marriage that has seemed hopeless, remember that change is not about something you do on the outside, but something you are becoming on the inside. If you are saved, your potential for righteousness and peace in your relationships is Jesus Christ (Col. 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory [character change]). If we have become cold, unfruitful, and indifferent about the will of God and the righteousness of God, we have forgotten about the gift of God.
“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” – 2 Peter 1:9-10
As my wife and I returned to the invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 to come unto Jesus and learn of Him, we began once again to grow in righteousness and therefore true peace in our marriage relationship.
Do not buy in to the lie that it’s just not possible in your situation. Instead, go to God and begin living by faith and not sight.
Start obeying the commands of righteousness and biblical retaliation in Romans 12:18-21 and Matthew 5:43-47, and you can begin to see the power of God at work in your relationship.