By Wang Jing
Interacting with others is a profound lesson for everyone, and Christians are no exception. We all want to easily handle the interpersonal relationships well. Now 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 with others, we always treat them based on individual preferences. When we meet someone whose character, temper and life habits are in line with our desires, we will be willing to get close to him, and think whatever he says or does is right. Even if he raises our deficiencies with us, we will be willing to accept. However, when we meet those who are not after our hearts 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. Such are the manifestations of acting on our own emotion and preferences. There are no principles of truth in our interacting with others this way, and so our relationships with others will fall apart at any moment because of temporary displeasure. This shows that interacting with others based on emotion and preferences can only bring us constant distress and that the relationships won’t last long; moreover, it is at odds with the Lord’s will. Sermons and Fellowship on Entry into Life said, “There are some people who couldn’t get along with anyone when they cooperate with brothers and sisters. They don’t have a normal relationship with other people. They have only hatred instead of love. They are always close to this one, but not that one; they always suppress this one, but rope in that one. So they don’t maintain normal relationships with others.” “A person who genuinely loves the truth has a hallmark: He likes all those who practice the truth. He not only respects them, but also is willing to come into contact with them and communicate truth together with them in order to gain more. … A person who genuinely loves the truth likes seeking the company of people who are honest and love the truth. No matter what their character flaws are, he likes fellowshiping with them because he can benefit a lot and gain something that he cannot get from those who don’t like truth.” These two passages of fellowship show that the most important thing in our interactions with others is to first see whether or not the person sincerely believes in God and loves the truth as opposed to seeing whether or not his temper and character are after our hearts. 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.
Thesaid: “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, forbear with 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 would 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 weakness. Regardless of what transgressions we have, as long as we truly repent, God will give us opportunities waiting for us to repent and change. If we don’t view others with an eye for development but treat others relying on satanic corrupt disposition: making harsh demands of others, trifling over minor matters, and arbitrarily judging and defining others when they reveal some corruption, then we simply cannot get well along with others.
For example, there was a sister in our church who always didn’t attend meetings on time because of passivity and weakness. I helped her many times, but she was still like that. Then 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 the Bible say: “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. Thinking back on how God moved brothers and sisters to support me and fellowshipwith me when I was negative and weak and fell in defeat so that I could understand God’s intentions, and have faith and strength to feel myself emerged anew. The current situation of the sister was the same as my previous situation. It was because she didn’t understand the truth and was bound to family entanglements that she couldn’t attend meetings on time. Now when she needed our loving support, I should communicate God’s will with her so as to help her understand the truth, unbound 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 God. How arrogant and conceited I had been! After realizing these, 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 experiences and knowledge with her. In this way, after several times of fellowship, she understood God’s intentions and, with that, 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 man, no matter what weaknesses and corruptions we have, as long as the essence of our nature is not bad and we truly 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 man. We must not arbitrarily define or judge others. Only treating others this way is fair and conforms to the Lord’s will.
Third, when interacting with others, we should set aside ourselves 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, feeling we are better than other people. Especially when we have a certain level of capability and possess a little caliber and talent, we would even more look down upon those who are not talented or gifted, or those who are foolish and of poor caliber. 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 stand in our place, and often examine ourselves. When we realize that we are not much higher than anyone else, we will not stand on high but put ourselves aside to learn to find and humbly accept others’ strong points to make up our own deficiencies in our interaction with others. In this way, we will keep growing in life and get well along with others.
For example, during a meeting, a sister said that my fellowship about the truth was unrealistic, and that it had nothing to do with my experience and knowledge of God’s word. She asked me to cite principles to fellowship and then read a passage of God’s words for me. After hearing these, I didn’t say anything, yet, in my mind, I was very defiant: “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; don’t I know how to fellowship? You are telling me!” 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 the relationship between us was abnormal. When I thought carefully about her words, I found they were right and beneficial to the work of God’s family, so I should put myself aside and accept her opinions and learn from those exemplary things in her fellowship to make up my own deficiencies. After I put this into practice, we both gained something new. Through the experience, I appreciated that only when putting ourselves 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 thoughts, 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. We shouldn’t blindly fixate our eyes on others, be obsessed with right and wrong or look to others for causes, thinking that others are wrong and at fault, but 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 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 my deficiencies with me many times, saying I didn’t have any burden in the work of church. Not only did I not receive it from God, but I thought that her speaking manner was harsh and her words were candid, and that she was picking on me purposely and making things difficult for me, so that I developed preconceived ideas of the sister and didn’t want to coordinate with her. 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 speaking manner 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 had directly denied her words in my heart before I understood her suggestions. It caused others to be unable to coordinate with me that I didn’t have readiness to accept the truth. 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 like 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 results of glorifying and bearing witness to God through our living out. Amen!
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