Clarity of the Heart in Relationship – Part I
Relationships are the hardest thing we ever do in this life, that’s why we do our best to both control and avoid them. If we could live alone, for the most part, we would have an easy go of it, but instead we have others to deal with for they surround us constantly. As the great Dr. Seuss may have put it in his famous lyrical rhythm – People here, people there, people with me every where. People high, people low, people every where I go.
And so we find that mastering good communication skills as community and family members is as essential as a carpenter learning to master his hammer and saw. Not being able to utilize right and effective relationship tools invariably leads to much trouble. This week I’d like to bring a few of these tools to you that are tremendously helpful. They are based upon a few biblical principles and involve the way in which we handle conflict.
Many of us pride ourselves on what we think is an almost perfect recall. When it comes to what someone has said to us and what we believe they have said, we find that most of us have no problem relying upon our own internal witness. However, this is quite dangerous for we are never neutral and unbiased; there is always the stain of past history on our hearts distorting even if only so slightly our perception of what we hear. The Old Testament recognizes this truth when it says, “The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.” (Proverbs 18:17) And to make matters worse the prophet Jeremiah has this insight –“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) We should always be suspicious of ourselves particularly when we are in conflict.
So the first principle for us to learn and cultivate is an active humility. We must learn to accept that we are fallible listeners and consequently must be slow to judge and learn to discern rightly before we jump into accusation and assertions. As Christ Himself said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)
We should first seek clarification and understanding through probing questions and multiple witnesses before setting out stakes firmly in unmovable ground. Back again to antiquity the Lord spoke through Moses saying, “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.” (Deut. 19:15)
If we combine these truths regarding humility along with other admonitions of thinking of others more highly than ourselves (Phil. 2:4) and not assuming that we know someone else’s motives; we have started well. Hearing correctly is the first step and seeking to understand rather than merely reacting to what we think we heard is a godly tool.
Next post we’ll go further into probing good and right communication during conflicts.
Posted on August 29, 2009, in Doctrine/Theology, Experiential / Application, Pastoral and tagged heart motive, judging, presumptions, reconciliation, relationships. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.