The Bible is a rich storehouse of spiritual and practical advice, and examples of strong relationships are one of the recurrent themes. In fact, Martin Luther commented that the entire Christian life consists of relating to people around us.1
So what can we learn from the Bible about how to succeed with people?
Being a Christian can feel like an uphill fight, because much of what Jesus taught goes against human nature. Look at the list below and ask yourself if what Jesus said comes naturally to you.
Love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you.
Be right with God.
He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.—Proverbs 28:13
If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.—1 John 3:21
The Bible records many instances of Jesus praying.Sometimes He prayed all night.1 Other times He got up before dawn to prayalone.2 Occasionally He prayed in front of His followers as an example to them.3
He prayed for His disciples and for all of us who would come to know Him throughout the ages.4 He offered prayers of praise and thanksgiving to His Father.5 He also prayed in times of anguish and personal difficulty.6
One definition of tolerance is “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.” It’s fairly easy to be tolerant of others when your differences are minor; it becomes more challenging when the differences are major and there is little common ground.
God wants us to live at peace with all.
The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.—Leviticus 19:34 NIV
In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.—Matthew 7:12 NIV
The Bible is much more than a history of God’s dealings with individuals, peoples, and humankind in general, interspersed with a number of prophecies about future events. It was also written for now—whether “now” is AD 112, 1112, or 2012.
What direction, comfort, or assurance does the Bible have to offer? The following worries and troubles resonate with many of us today, and the Bible addresses them all.
In Acts chapter 17 we read about apostle Paul’s first experiences in Thessalonica and Berea, two cities in what is modern-day Greece. Both cities had Jewish populations, synagogues, and apparently a number of prominent Greeks who had converted to Judaism.
In Thessalonica, “as was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,’ he said.”1 Some of his listeners were persuaded, but others were not. Those who weren’t stirred up persecution, and Paul and Silas fled to the nearby city of Berea.
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
2 Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
The natural world was made by God.
Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.—Job 12:7–10 NIV
God foresaw our human weaknesses and personal shortcomings and wove them into His plan for our life. Nothing is outside God’s control, and with our cooperation He is able to bring good out of any situation, even a bad one. In fact, instead of being roadblocks on the road of life, problems often can be turned into stepping stones to bigger and better things.
Here are some biblical examples: