A study which has been helpful in relating to those close to me comes from l Corinthians l:l0: “I appeal to you . . . that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought”
In this passage the words “perfectly united” are a translation of the word katartizo. It is used in several ways in the New Testament: to restore, to perfect, etc. The one that caught my attention is where it is used “to mend a net”.
God’s desire is that in our marriages, our families, our local fellowships and in the larger family of Christ we should be perfectly joined together. That means we are called to mend the breaks that happen in even our strongest relationships.
What are some of the things that tear our relationships?
A critical attitude towards another. In any close relationship we will find out one another’s weaknesses. What we do with that information reveals our attitude toward God and our attitude towards our companions. The spirit of judgment towards others must be confessed and cleansed or it will always result in words used to hurt or diminish the other person. John and Charles Wesley, and their leadership team, were so concerned about this that they signed a pledge to guard against the destructiveness of gossip. We are to use information about another’s weakness to pray for them. The critical attitude is pushed out by our support and the God‑given compassion we receive as we pray.
An unwillingness to admit our faults and weaknesses keeps us apart. Pride is the root of all sin. When we hide our failures from one another we miss the intimacy of fellowship that is meant to be our resource against sin and division. James 5:l6 and l John l:7‑l0 give some specific ideas on how to live honest and vulnerable lives which can mend broken relationships.
A failure to demonstrate Christ’s love towards each other will allow us to drift away from each other. It isn’t just the things we do to hurt one another which divide us but we are also divided by withholding specific acts of love.
Fear of confrontation allows sin to go unchecked. It dishonors God in our maintenance of a false unity. How can we speak the truth in love to one another?
- Pray for the person and do not speak until it can be done in love (2 Corinthians 2:4)
- Remember the object is repentance and reconciliation (2 Corinthians 7:9,l0)
- Be specific about the sin. Satan attacks by causing a general feeling of malaise, guilt and depression.
The Holy Spirit points to specific sins that need correction. (2 Samuel l2:l0; Galatians 2:ll‑l4)
A person who seeks to control others destroys intimacy. E. Stanley Jones wrote about the destructive power of the controlling person: “The moment any member tries to dominate the fellowship at that moment the fellowship ceases to exist.”
When a person puts his or her interests ahead of others, or seeks to dominate the fellowship, disunity is the result. (Philippians 2:3‑5; l Peter 5:3‑6)
Some other specific things to keep our relationships mended
- Reserve time for each other so we are constantly nurturing the friendship
- Be delighted with what God does through others to defeat the power of envy in our own lives
- Intimates fight. Therefore, fight for the relationship for the purpose of greater intimacy.
- Be as gracious and forgiving with another’s sins as we are with our own