Staying in Relationships

Welcome to day 10 of STAND OUT: 7 traits of a counter cultural life. Every post in this series is indexed here.

People are hard.

Relationships are hard. And staying in relationship with people can often be the most difficult thing we do. BUT … staying in relationship with others can also be the most spiritually rewarding thing we ever do.

From the beginning, God intended us to be in relationship both with Him and with others. He knew we would need companionship.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. Genesis 2:18

While this verse is specific to the marriage relationship, we see throughout Scripture the value of other relationships in our lives.

  • Moses, Aaron, and Miriam were siblings.
  • Ruth and Naomi were in-laws.
  • Paul and Timothy were mentor and mentee.

Time and again in the Bible we find examples of people who were bound together and committed to one another. In Jonathan’s words to David we find one of the most beautiful descriptions of biblical friendship:

And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul. 1 Samuel 20:17

Jesus affirmed this type of sacrificial love in relationships,

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

While we may never be asked to die on behalf of another person, we are daily put in positions where we have to choose to lay down our preferences, our desires, our feelings, ourselves and esteem another higher than we do ourselves.

Some days, if we’re honest, it would be much easier to leave difficult relationships than to  stay in them. But, my personal experience is, it is so worth it to stay! When we dig in and do the work necessary, those hard relationships can become the ones we treasure most.

Relationships are hard. But God places a high value on them and as believers, we need to do the same.

So, what does it look like to stay in relationship? What does it mean to work through the hard stuff with the people in our lives? And why is this counter cultural?

Why is committing to stay and work out hard relationships so counter cultural? #StandOut #write31days Click To Tweet

Staying in relationships is counter cultural.

Just like instant gratification shapes our view of the “places” in our lives, it also profoundly affects our relationships. Our culture views people just like we do paper plates—disposable.

When a relationship no longer benefits us, the world says it is okay, even desirable, to walk away.

People are not like paper plates! Relationships are not intended to be disposable. #StandOut Click To Tweet

God’s Word gives us a different perspective.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these, put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14

Digging in to preserve and restore relationships reveals a heart like God’s.

I love those verses from Colossians. Paul is challenging us to do the work of relationship. Because of our status as believers, being chosen by God for relationship with Him, we have a responsibility to “put on” the characteristics we receive through His work in us.

  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Humility
  • Meekness
  • Patience

These are not qualities the world around us values! But then Paul goes even farther.  He calls to bear with one another and to work through conflict.

What does it mean to bear with one another? Think about the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. Just typing that makes me cringe a little bit. When we bear with one other we realize there will be moments in our relationships that make us cringe. People will say or do things that leave us feeling hurt or shocked or even betrayed. But we don’t give up. We keep moving toward each other.

But what about conflict? Paul says, “Forgive.” Y’all, this is where the rubber meets the road. How do we forgive when people do and say things that seem unforgiveable?

… as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Colossians 3:13b

Later in this series we are going to talk a lot more about forgiveness. But for today, we need to understand, our forgiveness of others should be motivated by the forgiveness we have received from the Lord.

When we were {and are!} unforgiveable, He forgave us. Just let that sink in for a bit.

In a world that views people and relationships as disposable, we have the opportunity to be counter cultural by digging in and working hard to preserve the relationships in our lives.

Love binds us.

In verse 14, Paul says it is love that binds everything together. This isn’t the easy love of ice cream or puppies, this is the hard love that lays down its life, that esteems another above itself.  This is the love of God Who IS love.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one anther. 1 John 4:11

Bottom line: we stay in relationships, we work through the hard stuff, because God has loved us and we best reflect Him by loving others.

This isn’t easy … I know that. It’s an area in my life where I struggle all. the. time. But, I’ve seen God do the miraculous in some of the hardest relationships in my life. And I believe you can too!


Teri Lynne

How have you seen God restore hard relationships when you have chosen to stay?

Read the Psalms this summer with Scripture Dig!


  1. So often I react to people before I stop to remember “our forgiveness of others should be motivated by the forgiveness we have received from the Lord.” It seem hard to not let the emotions but as I remember He forgiveness how can I not offer it to all.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • Oh girl! Me too … I think this is one of those areas we really need to talk about more as believers. What does it look like to commit to relationships and how do we really learn to forgive. It’s becoming increasingly easier to detach ourselves “in real life” and, while our online friends and relationships are incredibly valuable {hello, you!}, it is those in the flesh relationships where I find I am most often challenged about humility, serving, forgiving, and bearing with others.

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