4 Principles to Have Normal Interpersonal Relationships
By Wang Jing
Interacting with others is a profound lesson for everyone, and Christians are no exception. We all want to handle interpersonal relationships well. So I would like to share with you four principles of practice.
First, in our interactions with others we shouldn’t follow our emotions or preferences, but should treat others in accordance with the principles of truth.
In our interactions, we always treat others based on our own individual preferences. When we meet someone whose character, temperament and lifestyle are in line with our own, we will be willing to interact with them, and we’ll think whatever they say or do is right. Even if they point out our deficiencies to us, we will be willing to accept it. However, when we meet those who are not like us in all aspects, we will discriminate against and shun them; we will be unwilling to accept or obey the suggestions they give us even when we know that they are right. These are all manifestations of acting on our own emotions and preferences. There are no principles of truth in our interacting with others this way, and so our relationships might fall apart at any moment because of our temporary displeasure. This shows that interacting with others based on emotions and preferences can only bring us constant distress, and that such relationships won’t last long. Moreover, it is at odds with the Lord’s will. Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life said, “Some people, when fulfilling their duties among the brothers and sisters, are incompatible with anyone else, their relationships with others are abnormal. There is no love in their relationship with others, there is only hate. They always get close to this person and distance that person, always fight with this person and beckon that person. They have no normal interpersonal relationship with others.” “A person who genuinely loves the truth has a hallmark: He or she likes all those who practice the truth. He or she not only respects them, but also is willing to maintain contact with them and communicate truths together with them in order to gain from it. … A person who genuinely loves the truth likes seeking the company of other people who are honest and love the truth. No matter what their character flaws are, they like fellowshiping with them because they can benefit a lot and gain something that they cannot get from those who don’t like truth.” These two passages of fellowshiping show that the most important thing in our interactions with a person is to first see whether or not the person sincerely believes in God and loves the truth, as opposed to seeing whether or not their temperament and character are like our own. When our interactions with others are established on the principles of truth, with regard to all those who are humane and love the truth, we can be honest with each other and love each other, and then we will naturally be light and liberated; with regard to those people who do not have good humanity and do not love the truth, we only need to maintain an ordinary relationship, instead of a deep relationship, with them so that much unnecessary vexation will naturally be avoided.
Second, treat the failings and corruptions of others correctly and don’t delineate or judge others arbitrarily.
The Lord Jesus said: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Mat 7:1-2). The Lord Jesus taught us that regardless of what transgressions others have or regardless of what corruptions they reveal, we shouldn’t judge or delineate them arbitrarily. We should be loving toward others, tolerate others, and help them. It is recorded in the Bible how the Lord Jesus treated transgressors: Pharisees brought an adulterous woman before Jesus to see how He would deal with her. In accordance with the law, this woman should have been stoned to death, but the Lord Jesus didn’t condemn her but just told her not to sin anymore. From this practical example, we can see that the Lord Jesus particularly sympathizes with our human weaknesses. Regardless of what transgressions we commit, as long as we truly want to repent, God will give us opportunities, and He will wait for us to repent and change. If we don’t view others with an eye for development, but treat others by relying on our satanic corrupt disposition by making harsh demands of them, trifling over minor matters, and arbitrarily judging and defining them when they reveal some corruption, then we simply won’t be able to get well along with them.
For example, there was a sister in our church who never attended meetings on time because of her passivity and weakness. I tried to help her many times, but she was still the same. I decided that she was not a sincere believer in God so I didn’t want to support her anymore or pay any more attention to her. Afterward, I saw that in the Bible it says: “Let not him that eats despise him that eats not; and let not him which eats not judge him that eats: for God has received him. Who are you that judge another man’s servant? to his own master he stands or falls. Yes, he shall be held up: for God is able to make him stand” (Rom 14: 3-4). When I read this I felt quite ashamed. I thought back on how God moved some brothers and sisters to support me and fellowship God’s word with me when I was negative and weak and felt defeated. This helped me to understand God’s intentions and have faith and strength to feel myself renewed. The situation with the sister was the same as my previous situation. It was because she didn’t understand the truth and was bound by family entanglements that she couldn’t attend meetings on time. So when she needed our loving support, I should have continued to communicate God’s will with her so as to help her understand the truth, shake off the shackles of Satan’s dark influence, and return to God’s presence. However, not only did I not understand her difficulties, but I also gave her the cold shoulder and defined her as a believer who wasn’t sincere in her belief in God. How arrogant and conceited I was! After realizing all this, I prayed and repented to God, and was willing to change my wrong attitude. Then I fellowshiped with her based on love and patience, and shared my experience and knowledge with her. This way, after several times of fellowshiping, she understood God’s intentions, her situation changed, and she started to attend meetings regularly and even to perform her duties in the church. Through this experience, I understood that during the period that God works to save us, no matter what weaknesses and corruptions we have, as long as the essence of our nature is not bad and we truly believe in God and pursue the truth, God will give us opportunities to repent. Therefore, we should also tolerate and help others out of love, and treat everyone according to God’s attitude toward mankind. We must not arbitrarily define or judge others. Treating others like this is the truly fair way and conforms to the Lord’s will.
Third, when interacting with others, we should set aside our egos and learn from each other.
The Bible says, “But in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phi 2:3). When interacting with the brothers and sisters, we always see people and things according to our corrupt disposition of arrogance and self-importance. We feel we are better than other people. Especially when we have a certain level of ability and possess a little caliber and talent, we look down upon those who are not talented or gifted, or those who are foolish and of poor caliber, even more. This reveals our arrogance, which is the disposition of Satan, and it does not please God. The Lord Jesus said, “And whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Mat 23:12). We should take stock of ourselves, and examine ourselves often. When we realize that we are not much better than anyone else, we will not be so high and mighty and will put our egos aside and look for and humbly accept others’ strong points to make up for our own deficiencies. This way, we will keep growing in life and get along well with others.
For example, during a meeting, a sister said that my fellowshiping about the truth was unrealistic, and that it had nothing to do with my experience and knowledge of God’s words. She asked me to cite principles in my fellowshiping and then read a passage of God’s words for me. After hearing this, I didn’t say anything, yet, in my mind, I was very defiant and thought: “What do you understand? How many years have you believed in God? How much understanding do you have of the truth? I have been nurturing and shepherding the church for a long time. Don’t tell me how to fellowship!” I was unwilling to talk to her or listen more. At that time, the atmosphere was a little embarrassing, and the blame in my heart increased. So I prayed to God in my heart, and then thought of the words in the Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life, “Don’t think of yourself too highly or consider yourself much better than others. If someone else suggests something or gives you advice, look into it, accept it if it’s right, and don’t attack others if it’s wrong. Who doesn’t have times when they are wrong? Who sees everything the right way all the time? We fellowship to make up for each other’s shortcomings, so simply accept and use the correct fellowship. Nothing could be easier! …Why can’t you listen to someone else’s opinion? If someone else is wrong, you can stop listening, if they’re half correct, accept the correct half, and if they’re completely right, then accept all of it. That benefits both you and God’s house, and benefits God’s chosen people even more.” I realized that it was because of my arrogant disposition that I was unwilling to listen to the sister’s words, and so the relationship between us was abnormal. When I thought carefully about what she said, I found it was right and beneficial to the work of God’s family. I should have put my ego aside and accepted her opinions, and learned from those exemplary things in her fellowshiping to make up for my own deficiencies. After I put this into practice, we both gained something new. Through the experience, I appreciated that only when putting our egos aside to accept others’ opinions can we gain something and will our relationships with others be more harmonious.
Fourth, when seeing others doing things in a way not in keeping with our own ideas, we shouldn’t fixate on anyone else’s issues but should first learn to know ourselves.
The Lord Jesus said, “And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother’s eye” (Mat 7:3-5). In our interactions with others it is impossible to avoid some minor friction. But we shouldn’t blindly fixate on others, be obsessed with right and wrong, or look to others for causes, thinking that others are wrong and at fault. We should learn to examine and recognize the problems that exist within us. When we gain knowledge of ourselves, we will not treat others based on our own corrupt disposition, and at the same time our corruptions will be resolved.
I have deep experience of this. Some time ago, a sister I was paired with raised the issue of my deficiencies with me many times, saying I didn’t shoulder enough of the burden of the work of church. Not only did I not see this as coming from God, but I thought that her manner of speaking was harsh, her opinions were too candid, and that she was picking on me purposely and making things difficult for me. So I developed preconceived ideas of the sister and didn’t want to coordinate with her for a while. Afterward, I reflected on myself. What was the reason that I was unwilling to accept her opinions? When she pointed out these problems that I had, I didn’t reflect on my own problems and instead focused my attention on the sister, thinking that it was because she picked on me purposely and her attitude and manner of speaking were bad that the relationship between us wasn’t harmonious. Actually, some things that I did were not correct either. When she pointed out my inadequacies, I directly rejected her suggestions before I understood them. That I wasn’t ready to accept the truth caused others to be unable to coordinate with me. At the thought of this, I asked her for suggestions and listened to her communication with patience. At that time, I came to understand that what she said was completely for the sake of safeguarding the interests of the church, which was not what I had imagined. Moreover, those suggestions she put forward were what I was lacking. Finally through communication, we were spiritually linked and became as harmonious as before.
Thank God! The above four principles are some gains and understanding based on my experiences. May every one of us find the principles of easily interacting with others according to the Lord’s word and achieve the result of glorifying and bearing witness to God through the way we live. Amen!