One reason I love reading the Bible is that I can relate so well to its characters. The personal challenges they faced still ring true today. The two things I notice most are how they interacted with God and how they handled personal relationships.
The Bible is full of people struggling with relationships.In the first 13 chapters of Genesis alone we see people at their worst. The highlights include marital problems (Adam and Eve), sibling rivalry and murder (Cain and Abel), polygamy (Lamech), man’s spiritual indifference leading to annihilation (Noah) and a business dispute (Abraham and Lot). Makes you just want to say, “Can we all get along?”
Relationships are tough enough in and of themselves. Add money to the equation and it ratchets them up a notch. In fact I’d go as far as to say that our financial success hinges on how well we conduct our relationships.
Relationship Train Wrecks
No doubt you’ve read or seen relationship train wrecks occur because of money:
The couple who continually fight because he likes to spend and she likes to save…
The friendship that dissolved because money was never paid back…
The child who took advantage of the grandparent that cosigned a loan…
The family who gave extra to the church building fund instead of paying their bills…
The husband who neglected his family to climb the corporate ladder.
All these money issues sprout from a faulty view of relationships. Boundaries are not clear, expectations are not defined and priorities are unbalanced.
How do relationships facilitate us doing things we wouldn’t normally do with our money? I believe the answer lies within.
God has given us relational desires. At our core we want:
- A sense of relational harmony – to get along with others and be loved
- A defined purpose – to feel needed
- A means to assist – through giving of our resources and ourselves
Trouble comes when our relationships become twisted and we act on our core desires in inappropriate ways. These mistakes in judgment not only further strain relationships but they often end up costing us thousands of dollars in the process.
Bad relationships can be financial dream killers. The good news is they don’t have to be. The key to relational peace, and I believe financial stability is found in the Bible.
What It Takes to Walk Together
The Old Testament prophet Amos wrote,
“Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
It’s such a simple verse but it speaks to the one thing that is required for relational success – unity. Unity in thought, spirit, motive, and action. People cannot move forward in their relationships unless they are on the same page. Only when people are in agreement can they achieve success on all levels.
Right now I’m sure you are thinking, “That’s easier said than done.” You’d be exactly right. We each have our own personalities, ideas and belief systems that we think are right and appropriate. How do we get on the same page with others with so much disparity of thought? Here are a few ideas.
1. Get right with God
Our relationships with others cannot improve if we are out of sync with God. It is through our fellowship with Him that we gain wisdom and insight into our daily life. If our closeness with Him is strained by sin or through simple inactivity, we won’t have the right perspective when relating to others.
There is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a physical act where sound waves enter our ears and the brain helps us discern sound. Hearing alone doesn’t draw us closer to others.
Listening on the other hand involves processing and drawing conclusions about what we’ve heard. Listening takes us deeper in that we try to understand where others are coming from.
Our relationships struggle because we don’t listen for the deeper meanings. Instead we spend too much time focused on what we’ll say next and getting our point across.
3. Practice humility
Once listening becomes a habit, you realize that you are not the only one with good ideas. Other people have opinions, feelings and dreams they want to act on. At that point you have a choice to come along side them or continue to resist.
Unfortunately our pride usually keeps us from seeing the other side, acknowledging we are wrong and going with the better option. We’d rather have things our way even if it’s the wrong way. Isn’t that interesting?
4. Work at relationships
Relationships won’t be successful without effort. Quality relationships demand a time commitment, sacrifice and understanding. While that might not always be pleasant in the moment it’s the only way to reap the long-term benefits of relational health.
If you have financial trouble I’d take a close look at the quality of your relationships. You may find fixing those areas is the first step to moving forward.
Questions: How have you seen money problems develop from a bad relationship? What else can you do to get on the same page with others?