The blessing of good relationships is something God wants us all to enjoy. He sets us in families; He gives us friends; He knows we live in a world full of people and wants us to be a blessing and to be blessed in our relationships with all these people. Learning to live well among people is an outworking of our love for God; Jesus linked our love for God with our love for others (“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:37-40)). John reminds us frequently that our love for other people is the measure of our love for God, saying, ‘Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.’ (1 John 2:10-11)

Love needs to be seen in our family relationships: in our marriages, in our relationships to parents, grandparents and children. It needs to be seen in our friendships and in our church. It needs to be seen in our workplaces. Love and respect for people remain at the heart of the Christian faith.

The Bible is an honest book and shows us how often people fail to love in this way. From Cain who killed his brother because Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God and who acted out of jealousy and hatred to David who committed adultery and failed to discipline his sons, from Abraham who schemed his way into getting a son and who treated his wife’s slave with contempt to Jacob whose favouritism of Joseph caused so many problems among his children, we see plenty of examples of relationships which failed and which did not reflect God’s constancy and faithfulness. But it shows us also examples of what this love can look like: steadfast Ruth and honourable Boaz, for example, who are recorded in the lineage of Jesus our Saviour, Hosea the prophet who mirrored God’s constancy and faithful love to a wife who persistently rejected him. As we allow God’s Holy Spirit to have control of our lives, we can know the blessing of good relationships and we can trust Him to work in all those fractured, broken areas of our lives where perhaps we feel reconciliation is impossible and restoration can never happen. We mustn’t ever give up or lose hope. God is ableto orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. (Rom 8:28, The Voice) He is able to bring healing, restoration and reconciliation as we seek to live in the blessing of good relationships.

The blessing of good relationships is also a powerful means of evangelism. Jesus said, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ (John 13:34-35) May we show God’s love in all our relationships and see Him working in our families, friends, colleagues and neighbours so that others may know this blessing too.