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Relating Skillfully

The book of Proverbs sets before us several thought provoking and inspired truths that can and should have a significant impact on how we “wisely” relate to one another. Take for instance the curious and seemingly obvious proverb that reads: “If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse” (Pr.27:14). Consider how often our judgment is skewed by our own set of personal preferences, propensities and inclinations. In our subjectivity, we tend to think that if we would appreciate “this or that” so would everyone else. But this is clearly not the case. It becomes obvious when people from various backgrounds and different ages seek to live harmoniously in the body of Christ. And, of course, who can overstate this proverb’s importance amid the challenge of marriage and parenting? We are not all the same. What I would consider an act of love or encouragement may not be received as such by someone else. Real Christian love is a thoughtful endeavor. We must work to care for one another with an intelligent and considerate love. “How will this be received?” “What would really be understood as helpful to him?” “How does she respond to this kind of encouragement?” These are the kinds of critical questions we must ask ourselves. More than avoiding the obvious (e.g., morning people shouldn’t call night owls at 7 AM and men shouldn’t give tools as anniversary gifts), we should seek to be skillful in the way we relate to one another. This will please God and will make the church and our homes what God intended them to be.

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