How Should Christians Interact With Others in Line With the Lord’s Will?
By Wang Zihan
Interpersonal relationship is a topic that causes headaches for many people. This is also a topic that is encountered often throughout one’s life as a Christian. The Lord Jesus requires us to get along harmoniously with each other and to love others as we love ourselves. Many devout Christians are also willing to put the Lord’s teachings into practice. However, in reality, when we interact with others, we frequently encounter conflicts, and misunderstandings, so much so that our relationships become rigid and break down. This leads to pain for everyone. Now, what is the reason that we are unable to exist harmoniously with each other? How should we Christians interact with others in our lives in accordance with the Lord’s intentions? This has also been a problem that I have had difficulty with in the past. Thank the Lord for His guidance! Afterward, I was able to find the answer in a book that resolved my difficulties. Here, I will share a bit about my experience and understanding!
1. You must treat others fairly and equitably. You must not take action based on your emotions and preferences.
Jesus said: “For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:46–48). From the Lord’s words, I understood that God demands that Christians treat others in accordance with God’s words in their lives. They must not do so in accordance with their own emotions and preferences. When I reflect on how we interact with others, I realize that when we acquire benefit or help from others, we become happy and grateful toward that other party. However, when others say or do things that harm us, we become disgusted at the other person and we no longer pay attention to them. When we encounter someone that we like, we draw closer to them and rope them in; when we encounter someone that we do not like, we reject them and we move away from them. Whoever has high status or great power, we fawn on them and try to curry favor with them. Whoever does not have status or power, we reject and disparage them. When someone for whom we have a preference points out our imperfections, we are able to accept it. If someone for whom we do not have a preference does something similar, we do not accept it, we justify it and sometimes we are even disgusted by them, conflict with them and even attack them. These are all examples of following one’s own emotions and preferences and not treating others equitably. This is also the method by which unbelievers treat others. If a Christian treats others in this way, then, they are walking the same path that an unbeliever walks, they are not worthy to be called a believer of the Lord and what they are doing is not in accordance with God’s intentions. As believers in the Lord, we must put His teachings into practice. We must love others as we love ourselves. As long as someone’s humanity is good, they genuinelyand they love the truth, regardless of if they are compatible with our preferences, temperament, character, whether they are someone that we like and regardless of if they are ordinary brothers and sisters or church leaders, we should treat them sincerely and impartially. We must show them tolerance, patience and love. We must not deceive and discriminate. Only by doing so would we be in accordance with God’s intentions.
2. Properly address other people’s shortcomings and revealed corruption. Do not arbitrarily define and judge others.
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” (Matthew 7:1–2). The Lord’s teachings have helped me to understand that we are all people who have been corrupted by Satan. Our corrupt disposition is all the same. If others reveal an arrogant, conceited, selfish and despicable satanic disposition, we likewise can also reveal the same disposition. We have the same shortcomings as others. We are no better than others. If we judge and define others because of their shortcomings and corruption, then we are truly arrogant and have too little knowledge of ourselves! Therefore, regardless of what corruption and transgressions others reveal, we must address them properly and we must not arbitrarily judge and define them. Remember the attitude which Jesus had when addressing sinners as it was recorded in the Bible: The Pharisees grabbed a woman who had committed adultery and brought her before Jesus. They asked Jesus how this woman should be treated. According to the laws at the time, the woman should have been stoned to death. However, Jesus did not convict her for her sins. All He did was tell her to no longer commit sin in the future. (Refer to John 8:3–11.) From this passage, we can see that Jesus understood the pain and helplessness that people feel who have been corrupted by Satan and live in sin. He felt compassion for man’s weakness. When we have revealed corruption or have committed transgressions, as long as we genuinely repent, God will give us enough time to repent and change. We should also follow Jesus’ example and properly address the shortcomings and revealed corruption of other people. We should look at others through a perspective of development. This is also a principle of dealing with other people that Christians should have in their lives. If we have harsh demands for other people, split hairs with them and even arbitrarily judge people, if we define people and conclude that they are hopeless once we discover their shortcomings, this is an example of using an arrogant and conceited corrupt disposition to deal with others. If you do this, it is not in accordance with God’s intentions and you will absolutely not have normal relationships with others.
Let me share some of my experience with everybody. In our church, there is a sister who is unable to attend gatherings on time due to her non-believing husband. I had talked with this sister many times, but she was still living in negativity and weakness. I was very angry about this and so I defined her as someone who did not genuinely believe in God. I no longer wanted to help or assist her. Afterward, I read the following in the Bible: “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” (Romans 14:3–4). I felt very ashamed. I thought about the times when I felt defeated, negative and weak. God touched my brothers and sisters emotionally so that they would come and read God’s words to me many times. They would communicate and share their experiences in order to help and assist me. Only under the guidance of God’s words was I able to stand firm. I myself had nothing that I could boast about. Now, this sister was unable to attend gatherings on time due to her husband’s obstructions. I should have helped her with a loving heart, yet I was not concerned for this sister’s life. I even avoided her and defined her as someone who did not believe genuinely in God. When I took a look at myself, I felt that I was very arrogant. I did not treat this sister with a loving heart or patience at all. There was nothing that I had done that was in accordance with God’s intentions. Once I understood this, I confessed my sins before God and repented: I was willing to continue to help and assist this sister. Afterward, I communicated God’s words to this sister with a loving heart and I shared with her some of my own experience and understanding. After my communicating with her a few times, she was no longer subject to her husband’s control and her conditions gradually improved. What I learned from this experience is that regardless of whatever shortcomings and weaknesses a brother or sister has, or whatever corruption they reveal, as long as they genuinely believe in God and can repent before God when they make a mistake, God will give them an opportunity to change. That is why we must also help others with a loving heart, forgive others and treat each person in accordance with God’s requirements. We must absolutely not arbitrarily define and judge other people. This is how one treats people equitably and in accordance with God’s intentions.
3. You must not overestimate nor underestimate other people. Learn from other people’s strengths and make up for your own deficiencies.
The Bible says: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). God has given each of us different caliber, talent and strengths. Because of this, we should have a humble heart when interacting with our brothers and sisters and we should properly address others’ strong or weak points. We must not overestimate nor should we underestimate others. We should absorb the strengths of others so that we can make up for our shortcomings. If because of our own strengths, caliber and talent we end up looking down on others and magnify our own strengths without limit, through which we show off and boast about ourselves, as well as judge, disparage and bring harm to others, this is how we are being controlled by our own arrogant and conceited corrupt nature. This is not the way that a Christian should live. For example, before, I always thought that my own caliber was better than that of a sister with whom I worked, so I looked down upon her. During our work together, I intentionally and unintentionally showed off and my heart was filled with pride for myself. My corrupt disposition caused God to loathe me and it caused God to cover His face from me. My spirit became dark and depressed. There were many clear problems in my work that I was unable to discover, while the sister’s work gradually became better. I thought of what Jesus said: “And whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). This was when I saw how arrogant I was. I was not aware of myself. Actually, it is because of the Holy Spirit’s work that my work did produce some results or I was able to discover some problems. However, I still stole God’s honor and I was immeasurably self-satisfied and admired my own ego. I looked down on my fellow brothers and sisters. In reality, I was just very irrational! At the same time, I was aware that I needed to learn how to let go of myself. I had to open-mindedly absorb the sister’s strengths in order to make up for my own deficiencies. Only if I did this would God be happy and my own life would continuously grow. As a result, I started to do so. When there were problems that I did not understand, I would ask the sister for her advice. If I encountered issues, I would discuss them with her. It was at this time that I discovered that in fact she had many strengths that I lacked. My heart felt very humiliated. I also understood that God had arranged for me to work with this sister because He wanted me to make up for my shortcomings. He wanted us to cooperate harmoniously together to do the work that He entrusted us with. Gradually, my relationship with the sister became normal and I once again received the Holy Spirit’s work.
4. When you discover that other people do things that do not conform to your own ideas, do not focus your gaze on the other person. Instead, you must first recognize yourself and put the truth into practice.
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” (Matthew 7:3–5). When we interact with others, it is inevitable that there will be some friction and biases. At these moments, we must not blindly focus on what the other party is doing wrong and always believe that it is the other party’s fault. Instead, we should learn to come before God and seek the truth within God’s word so that we can find out where our own problems lie. Once we understand God’s intentions and have an understanding of our own corrupt disposition, we will be able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and see things from their perspective. We will be able to understand others, empathize with them and be tolerant. At this point, the biases that we have for others will naturally decrease drastically.
I have had some deep experiences in regard to this aspect. I remember one of the sisters with whom I had worked pointed out many times that I had not born my burden in regard to church work. However, not only was I unable to receive it from God, in fact, I even suspected that this sister was deliberately nitpicking me and making my life difficult. My heart started generating biases toward this sister and I no longer wanted to serve alongside this sister. After I read God’s word and sought God’s intentions, I understood that my own arrogant and conceited satanic disposition was controlling me and not allowing me to accept this sister’s suggestions. It even caused me to be suspicious about her. This led to my inability to have normal interactions with this sister. At the same time, I knew that the people, events and things I encountered every day were all dictated and arranged by God. It was God meticulously arranging these things to change and save me and not the sister deliberately wanting to make things difficult for me. I should submit to God, learn to let go of myself and accept her correct suggestions. Afterward, I went before God and reflected upon myself. From the sister’s suggestions, I could see that indeed I was not bearing my responsibilities in regard to church work. I did whatever the leader arranged me to do, yet I never thought about how I could do church work even better. Once I understood God’s intentions, I did things in accordance with God’s requests. I proactively and unrestrictedly revealed my corruption to this sister and I even asked God to give me even more responsibilities. When I encountered situations, I thought more about how I could benefit the church. When I put things into practice in this way, the misunderstandings I once had with this sister disappeared. We connected spiritually and the harmony we once had was restored.
The four principles of practice were things that I had learned from my experiences. I truly experienced that God’s word is the guiding light in a Christian’s life. It is the compass for our path. Without the guidance of God’s word, we would have no path to walk. All we must do is put God’s teachings into practice and treat everybody equitably. Only then would we be able to live out the likeness of a real human being, coexist harmoniously with others, allow those around us to benefit and cause God to be satisfied and commend us.
Thank God for His guidance. May all the honor be unto God!
Editor’s Note: Thanks to God’s enlightenment and guidance, as long as one practices the four principles mentioned in this essay, the issues that one faced in regard to human relationships will magically disappear. Imagine how much better our lives would be if we as Christians were able to put God’s words into practice and live harmoniously with others! Where can one find this kind of life? The editor continues to recommend a Christian hymn: “God’s Love Brings Us Close Together.” After you finished listening to this hymn, you will find your answer.