5 Ways to Build Edifying Relationships

Relationships with the Body of Christ can be a frustrating thing…though it’s a necessary part of our walk with Christ. As Christians, we’re called to be in edifying relationships with other believers. However, there’s a lot of division, favoritism, backbiting, hate, and gossip that goes on in the Church that causes harm to the Body of Christ. I’ve not always dealt in a godly way in some of my friendships with members of the Body of Christ.

The Word of God has some things to say about Christ-honoring relationships among His Bride. It was His desire that we use our friendships to build each other up in the Lord and point each other to Him. These are just a few ways He’s called us to go deeper in our relationships.

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1. Invest in other Christians without expecting anything in return. Do we develop friendships because we get something from them? Or do we genuinely love the Body of Christ & unselfishly desire to serve them? It’s comfortable to find relationships that feed our insecurity and our need for acceptance. Being in a friendship because we’re getting something out of it is a selfish and empty way to live our lives. However, these relationships often end in frustration and emptiness. Instead, learning to give and serve others without expectations will bring true and lasting joy to our hearts. Genuine love for others may not always be reciprocated, as I’ve found out before, but I’m learning that it is better to give than receive.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, (1 Peter 1:22 ESV)

2. Give relationships space. It’s easy to have our “foots in our neighbor’s house” in today’s instant communication. Most of our relationships are a mere text, phone call, tweet, email, Facebook message away. Have you ever just wanted some distance in a demanding relationship? I know I have…when I’m constantly getting texts/emails/etc. from someone. It’s made me realize that part of edifying relationships is giving people rest from outside voices, including our own. Being respectful of our friends’ time and priorities is part of genuine love. It’s okay if we don’t hear back from them in the same hour, afternoon, day, or week.

“Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.” (Proverbs 25:17 ESV)

3. Speak Truth in love into your friends’ life. I’m realizing I’m a bit too eager to please in my relationships. It’s gotten me into a couple messy situations I could have avoided if I was willing to stand up for the Truth. In all of our relationships, whether it be with family or close friends, we are called to build up one another in Christ. Part of loving others is encouraging them and exhorting them to pursue Christ. It’s okay for Christians to gently and humbly discuss different opinions and thoughts on the Word of God. It grows us. We shouldn’t be afraid of reproof or debate…if someone is brave enough to humbly point out something to us they feel is contrary to the Bible, then we should be grateful they love us that much! Hopefully, we will be able to do the same for others. And…it’s actually good for us to have people who we’re close to that disagree with us on issues…”likemindedness” can actually be a warning sign for a mediocre Body.

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Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV)
 
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6 ESV)
 
4. Let go of relationships that harm our relationship with Christ. There is a point when we have to let go of a friendship that destroys other relationships in our lives. If a person who claims the name of Christ is dragging us down spiritually, not encouraging us in our walk with Christ, not listening to Biblical counsel and encouragement, and is being a distraction to pursuing a deeper relationship with God, it may be time to let that go. If a person makes us feel guilty for not spending more time with them, it’s time to let it go. When relationships with other believers cause more harm than good, it’s not a sin to walk away and we should seek to do it peacefully and humbly.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (Romans 16:17 ESV)
5. Pursue a deeper walk with Christ. The biggest cause of conflict in relationships is a lack of Christlikeness. The cure for this is for us to grow in our own relationship with Christ. We need to be seeking Him first, before we seek out relationship with others. The quality of our relationships will often reflect how much we desire a closer walk with God. If we want quality, deep friendships, we need to be developing a deeper abiding in Christ.
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What are some ways you have found to build Christlike relationships with other Christians? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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