When people ask for advice regarding their marriage or budding love relationship, I often tell them that the most important thing is to let Jesus be the boss. No matter how much two people love each other and no matter how much they have in common, they are going to have some disagreements. When that happens, the surest way to know what’s right is to ask the highest authority. If both partners are willing to let Jesus make the decisions, they can avoid the friction and resentment that undermine many relationships.
Our lives involve all sorts of relationships. In fact, relating to people is largely what life is about. Relationships, when based on the right foundation and growing in the right direction, are wonderful, rewarding experiences. Each new relationship also brings with it an exciting new set of challenges and surprises. And of course no relationships are as challenging or full of surprises as romantic relationships.
A stray dog moved into the Smiths’ neighborhood the same day the Joneses moved in next door, and the dog immediately began to wreak havoc, scrounging in trashcans and tearing up flowerbeds in both yards. The Smiths were irked that the Joneses had brought such a nuisance into the neighborhood, and the Joneses found it inexcusable that the Smiths made no attempt to control their dog. For several weeks neither couple said anything to the other, while bad feelings festered on both sides. Finally Ms. Smith could stand no more and gave Ms. Jones a piece of her mind. “Oh,” Ms. Jones replied, “we thought it was your dog!”
Keep it positive and uplifting.
Proverbs 15:23: A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
Proverbs 27:9: Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.
Ephesians 4:29: Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
A team of songwriters, musicians, and singers had worked well together on various projects over the space of several years. They were a rather motley crew and had had their share of ups and downs, but had always managed to hang together somehow. So when nearly everyone’s inspiration level hit an unprecedented and inexplicable low at the same time, the couple leading the team was naturally concerned. They were Christians who depended a lot on prayer, so they asked God to show them what had gone wrong and how to turn things around.
The answer they received was short and simple: “You’ve been cutting corners on love.” Everyone had gotten so wrapped up in their work that they’d all stopped taking time to show one another love and appreciation—the very things that had made them such a good team in the first place.
I was going through a rough time in my relationships with others. Instead of “winning friends and influencing people,” as the title of the famous book by Dale Carnegie suggests, I was losing friends and putting people off. It was time to get some help. I picked up my prayer telephone and dialed Jeremiah 33:3—“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
Jesus picked up right away. After the usual affable greetings, our conversation went something like this. …
The same food can taste quite different, depending on how it is prepared. There are hundreds of ways to prepare potatoes, for example. Some foods I like when served one way, but I absolutely dislike them when served another way. Eating a raw vegetable or piece of fruit is a totally different experience than eating it cooked.
In her poem “An Evening Prayer,” C. Maud Battersby captured what should be the prayer of each of us every day.
When you’re talking to people and you’re not sure that you understand what they’re trying to tell you or how they really feel about the matter you’re discussing, you should ask them. It probably sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do that. It’s usually either because they think they’re supposed to understand but don’t and are afraid to admit it, or they’re afraid that their asking might embarrass the other person. It really does help to ask, though, because some people aren’t always quick to open up and give their honest feelings.
Loving, wholesome, wise speech has a positive effect.
Proverbs 10:11: The mouth of the righteous is a well of life.
Proverbs 12:18: The tongue of the wise promotes health.
Proverbs 15:1: A soft answer turns away wrath.