Communication failure within any relationship always proves to be costly. How do we resolve breaks in our connections with each other?
Last night, we experienced a short power outage in our neighborhood. It was only a minor inconvenience on a relatively hot day in Saskatchewan. As electronic devices came to silence, people talked more with each other. Neighbors formed small groups, huddling under the welcome shade of mature trees. Children playfully milled around.
However, the outage caused a major disruption and communication failure between my computer and printer. Though they sit within arm’s reach of each other, they refused to connect and exchange information. Not a good scenario to discover on a busy Monday morning. It took many attempts and more than a little frustration to resolve the issue.
Whether the infractions come in minor blips or major collisions, every relationship experiences something similar. Too often little inconveniences turn into major disruptions with those the closest to us.
Thankfully, Romans gives us a step-by-step remedy to resolve conflict and mend any breaks in our connection with others.
#1 – Humility
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.”
The moment any of us looks down on someone else, we all lose! If we determine to look up to God for solutions, we will refrain from looking down on others. In every relationship, the focus can never be about “me” or “my side.” God has intricately connected us together in families, work groups, and churches for the common good — the benefit of all.
In humility, we become more capable of seeing ourselves and others through God’s eyes. The Message Bible translates this verse in a way I can relate to.
“I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.”
Romans 12:3 MSG
Like my office technology issues, we all experience “power outages” in one area of our lives or another. As we grow in “pure grace” for each other, we acknowledge that any and all good in any of us ultimately comes from God.
It is worth saying again, “The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” Strong and truthful words!
#2 – Love
It is no surprise that love is the key that opens the way to resolution. We also know that love comes with a cost. To love often includes choosing the hard way.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
Easy said! Hard does! Loving well bridges any short-term or long-term communication failure. Love soothes the wounds caused by breaks in our relationships.
God challenged me several years ago with a practical way to love sincerely, hate what is evil, and cling to what is good. He powerfully illustrated to me the danger of entertaining even a single negative thought toward anyone. Again, easy said! Hard does! But as soon as any negative thought enters my mind about anyone, I must actively cut it short, replacing it with good and godly thoughts. If I don’t, I will quickly lose my spiritual fervor — being “aglow and burning with the Spirit of God.” That price is too much to pay!
Romans encourages us all to “keep our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” We are to keep it — to guard and protect it. The duty is ours. The responsibility rests on us.
Lovelessness quenches the Spirit! It extinguishes the Holy Spirit flame that God desires to burn within us. When we refuse to allow breaks in connection to separate us, the fire of God burns brighter and higher.
#3 – Approach Conflict
Sometimes, even positive changes in our lives may produce discomfort and conflict. Our views and principles change as we grow in the things of God.
Most often, communication failure results from differences of opinion or personal preferences. But those differences don’t need to divide us. We can view conflict as healthy and productive.
We all need to learn how to navigate conflict in positive ways. One of the prime methods to bring resolution during conflict is to avoid critical judgments.
“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.”
God alone correctly judges each of our hearts and motivations. He made us free in Christ to follow His example and His Word. He calls each of us to maturity, discerning His will. But, it is important that we act in love as we endeavor to live like Christ.
Rather than judging other people and their motives, God invites us to consider our own actions and driving forces. How do my words, attitudes, and actions affect me? And, more importantly, how do they affect others?
#4 – Value Each Other
Romans 16 stands as one of my best loved chapters. Why? Because the author commends, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, rich and poor. He acknowledges the worth and good in each individual — their hard work, sacrificial living, friendship, sharing in the hard times, standing the test of faith, and being like family. Co-workers extend their greetings to the church in Rome as well. Even the scribe uses the opportunity to send greetings.
Romans 16 emphasizes the need to consider every individual as of great worth — vitally important, not just to God, but to each other. We only value our family as much as we value each member. We only value our church as much as we value every person in it. Do I look at each person as essential? Valued? Precious?
Oh, how easy to resolve any breaks in connection when we truly value each other as God does. Any communication failure would be quickly mended.
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you. Amen.”
It took several steps in the process to restore communication between my computer and printer. It also takes authentic, purposeful steps to resolve breaks in our relationships.
When the deepest desire and passion of our hearts is to fully express the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will not allow anything to sever our relationships and cause outstanding communication failure.
God is worth it! His people are worth it! He freed us to live by grace through faith in respect to others.
Father, I repent of any attitudes, actions, or words that have caused broken relationships and communication failure. I choose humility and love over my need to be seen, heard, or acknowledged. Lord, I repent for expecting others to fill the areas of my life that You long to occupy. I repent of holding critical judgments toward others.
May humility and love lead me to live with others in harmony, holding them in the deepest respect. Give me both the grace and boldness to approach conflict in a way that will bring resolution — as much as it depends on me — to relationships. May I see others through Your eyes — those who are kind and those who are not, those who have a similar mindset and those who do not, those who are strong and those who are weak.
May the passionate fire of Your Spirit burn with increasing fervency. Lord, I purpose to guard my heart and mind with diligence, as I keep You as the focus and purpose of my life.