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?
God instructs us to be meek and humble in our dealings with others …
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.—Ephesians 4:2 NLT
Try your best to please God and to be like him. Be faithful, loving, dependable, and gentle.—1 Timothy 6:11 CEV
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
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
What practical benefits does faith provide? Here are a few. In essence, it’s a short list of God’s promises.
The life which I now live … I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.—Galatians 2:20
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.—2 Corinthians 5:17
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.
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: