21 Ways to Improve Your Relationships from Proverbs 27- Part One
June 7, 2021
Humans are attracted to love. We are hardwired for it because it is the nature of our Creator who designed us after himself. God’s plan for his children is to enjoy relationship with him and the rest of our kingdom family. God’s sacrificial love sets the standard for his people. Jesus said lost folk would know we belong to God because of the way we love each other. Our relationships are supposed to attract people to Jesus.
Kingdom relationships should make lost people say, “I want that.” So, how important do you think our relationships in the body of Christ are to God? Solomon devoted chapter 27 of Proverbs to the art and wisdom of relationships. Let’s learn together how to up our relationship game. For the sake of the kingdom. For the sake of the lost.
It’s easy to take relationships for granted. I’m task oriented by nature and sometimes still treat people like cogs in my machine instead of living souls with needs. What’s your issue with relationships? Here’s Solomon’s advice for relationship success, verse by verse. I invite you to pull up chapter 27 and read the text before you read my paraphrase. I recommend the NLT version.
Verse 1 &2 – Avoid Bragging
Don’t toot your own horn or be going on about your kids or grandkids successes, unless you are asked. We all know people whose lives and families are in complete disarray. If they want to know about the good things God is doing in and around you, let them ask or observe. Bragging is obnoxious and off putting.
I’m currently writing 22 short devotionals based on Proverbs 27 entitled, “Healthy Connections- God’s Advice for Your Relationships.” It will be posted as a free download at the end of this month.
Verse 3- Resist Resentment
Harboring resentment against foolish people and the cruddy things they do and say, is like tying permanent weights to your ankles. Resentment drags your soul down. As my dad used to say, “Don’t let the turkeys keep you down. Soar with the eagles instead.”
Verse 4- Steer Clear of Jealousy
As destructive as anger is, jealousy is worse. Jealousy is an anger/envy mashup. Jealousy is angry that someone else has what it wants or has something better. Jealousy wants other people’s stuff. Jealousy wants to be living someone else’s life. Jealousy sidles up to people and acts like their friend while resenting their blessings and questioning whether they are worthy of such things. I’ve seen relationships heal from anger explosions and arguments more often than I’ve seen relationships survive a revelation of jealousy. When I figure out that someone was never authentically cheering me on and secretly enjoying my failures and trials, that’s a deal breaker for me. If you’ve got any of this, deal with it today before you blow a relationship.
Verse 5- Be Courageous with Love
Calling someone up short for bad behavior is far better than hiding or stuffing down your concern about them. It takes courage to correct. It takes love to suggest that behavior and words are hurtful. It’s a willingness to risk the relationship for the better good. When you hide your concern for someone, both of you are poorer for it. When you see someone choosing a foolish or sinful path and you say nothing, that’s hiding your love and it’s cowardly. At least an open rebuke lets someone know you care enough to deal with the tough stuff.
Verse 6- Be Truthful
A wise friend will never buy into the worldly idea that they must lie at times to spare feelings. A true friend will wound with truth. A true friend will speak truth with love. So, don’t ask if those pants make you look fat or if they like your new chartreuse couch UNLESS you honestly want the truth. I think so many of us are so insecure we just want people to affirm the decisions we’ve already made. That does not help us grow. In fact, it will encourage us to keep making the same mistakes.
Verse 7-Don’t Become Offended Over Food
This is my verse for spouses and parents of picky eaters. It was wise advice from our family doctor when we were concerned that our daughter, Jennifer, was surviving on air and occasional SpaghettiOs. Truly hungry people will eat what’s placed before them. Some of the worst fights in families and marriages often occur at mealtimes, about food. I know that it made our mealtimes horrible when Jennifer was a child until our doctor gave us this advice. “Fix good food and serve it. She can eat it or not, but no desserts or snacks before the next meal. When she’s hungry enough, she’ll eat.” He was right. I shifted from a spirit of offense every time she rejected my meals. When she didn’t want to eat anything, we just said, “Okay, tell us about your day while we eat.” End of drama. Don’t damage your relationship with someone because they are very particular about food and don’t eat that much. As someone with a tricksy digestive tract I know I’ve probably offended people by not eating their food sometimes. We need to let go of that offense.
Verse 8-Stay In Your Lane
Stay in your God-appointed lane. He creates places of belonging that are unique for each of us. When we stray from that we get in trouble. It might be a marriage relationship from which we want to wander. It could be a job where God wants us right now until he opens the door for our better one. If we leave early we can wind up missing the best job because it wasn’t ready for us yet. It might be an area of interest or expertise where we try to go beyond the gifts and talents God has given us and push ourselves into positions and ministries, he did not design for us. Let’s stay in our lanes and recognize when we are starting to stray.
Verse 9- Give and Receive Wisdom
Great advice from a friend is like expensive perfume that doesn’t make you gag when you smell it. Don’t be afraid to follow God’s inner nudging and share timely advice with folks when they seek you out. Don’t give way to false humility. Share what God has taught you about himself and his Word.
Verse 10- Stay Openhearted
Be careful about ending friendships (unless they are truly toxic). Do the work of keeping open doors in your heart to people God brings into your life even when you move away from each other or don’t see each other as often. You never know when God might want to use that person in your life again.
Verse 11-Teach Your Children Well
Teach your children all the wisdom in God’s word, especially Proverbs. Challenge your kids to read a chapter a day so they can internalize these truths or read one each day at dinner. Maybe post key Proverbs around your house and change them up regularly. Lots of creative ways to help your children internalize wisdom. Wise children make their parents look great!
Isn’t it amazing how much relationship advice is in these eleven verses? I can think of hundreds of times when I’ve done the opposite of the advice Solomon gives here and experienced sad consequences. I challenge you to pick one or two or these that made you feel a bit squirmy when you read them. Ask God to renew your mind, conform your will and transform your heart in those areas. I want to get so much better at loving my brothers and sisters in Christ. For the sake of the kingdom. For the sake of the lost.