“The biblical view of healthy relationships is much more than the absence of conflict. Scripture’s vision is a deeper peace in which people find joy and delight in right relations. This ancient Hebrew vision of right relationships, called shalom, is a combination of proper justice and fulfilling peace.”
– Schultze & Badzinski
Building peaceful relationships, not only takes intentional effort, but also demands good listening skills. One prominent component is to both find value in sharing clarifying thoughts, but to also desire help from others in adjusting our own thinking. Relationships are a taste of heavenly goodness which is more than merely a lack of conflict.
Peace-filled relationships are not simply a good thing we should desire because our life will be made easier by effective communication. The pursuit of the biblical concept of shalom is one aspect of our daily pursuit of holiness. The Bible often instructs how we should interact with others. The very act of listening puts the focus on the speaker, living out the command to see others as more important than ourselves.
Our goal is personal growth and the continued deepening of intimacy in our relationships when we recognize and respond to conflict with the humility of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. As we control our reactions, without making assumptions, and take time to process another perspective, we gain insight into ourselves. Hearing the conviction of another and taking time to understand their reasoning provides the opportunity for our own perspective to be positively altered.
In days of social unrest in our country, many believers have attempted to surround themselves with those who think just as they do. While this may produce a false sense of peace, our goal is to allow conflicting views that produce a discussion. Healthy communicators learn how to practice Biblical conflict management through good listening and respond with respectful compassion.
As creatures made in the image of God, we are created to take information, apply critical thinking, and come to a resolution. The resulting conviction can differ from person to person based on how they prioritize that information. Allowing dissension to develop from a desire to be found correct or to have some upper hand in the conversation can be devastating to relationships. We feel emotion deeply and it is important that each person feels the safety to express what they feel. I grew up in a house filled with women. My three sisters and I talked constantly and loudly. We always thought my mom was hard of hearing until adulthood when she informed us, she typically had cotton in her ears to dampen our loud voices. I can assure you, we were not always communicating well, but we voiced our feelings with freedom. If we are not given opportunities to voice what we are feeling, we are physically and physiologically negatively affected. Having close relationships with people who know us intimately and have the courage to speak truth to us is one of God’s greatest gifts.
Restoration is a work of true grace found in the reality of the cross. Key components to shalom in our relationships are our willingness to forgive and to seek forgiveness drawing from the unquenchable well provided by the cross. Drawing from the atonement that has been provided for us and passing genuine forgiveness back and forth horizontally allows for true relational shalom. This process begins with the practice of good listening, allowing us to hear how we have offended another or how our actions and words may have been received in a manner they were not intended. Each time we walk through this process, we have a deeper appreciation for each other and a more realistic perception of the grace we have been freely given.
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