4 Biblical Reminders About Tough Relationships
This is the final part of the 4-week Saving Christmas series from BGEA.
Part 1: 3 Ways to Simplify Your Christmas
Part 2: 5 Ways to Honor God with Your Giving
Part 3: 5 Ways to Handle Grief, Loneliness at Christmastime
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
—1 Corinthians 13:7 (ESV)
Perhaps you’re one of many who refers to 1 Corinthians 13 as the “love chapter.” It is certainly one of the most descriptive passages in the Bible on how to nurture our relationships with others and care for one another as Christ cares for us.
But acting in love isn’t always easy—especially around the holidays when gatherings with friends and family are nearly inevitable.
Still, reconciliation is only possible if we are willing. And it requires constant effort.
Billy Graham once said, “Love does more to solve our problems than anything else does.” And it’s true. If you are genuinely ready to mend broken relationships, extending love is the first step.
Whether your challenging relationship involves a parent, spouse, sibling, close friend or associate—these four reminders from God’s Word are a challenge to us all in resolving conflict and walking in love.
What better season than Christmas, celebrating God’s greatest gift and act of love toward mankind, to commit to applying 1 Corinthians 13 in a tangible way?
1. Extend forgiveness.
At the start of 1 Corinthians 13:7, the Bible says, “Love bears all things.” The word bears in this context means to “protect” or “cover over in secret.”
Is the love you’ve shown toward others a protective love, continually washing away wrongs for a fresh start each day? Or does it murmur and complain, revealing to anyone who will listen all the faults of another?
As Proverbs 10:12 says, love “covers all sins.” It’s what Christ did for us and an example to the mercy and forgiveness we all need.
Billy Graham often talked about forgiving others and how pride can prevent us from doing so. Let these help you get on the right track to making amends:
2. See the good first.
The next statement in 1 Corinthians 13:7 reveals another key trait about love: It “believes all things.” In other words, love offers the benefit of the doubt.
This may seem impossible to do all the time. And it is, in your own power. But with constant prayer for strength and guidance, you can begin to believe the best about others—even those who have hurt you deeply.
Yes, a small sense of victory can come when you rack up the flaws of a person who wronged you. But in the end, it only leaves your heart bitter and your relationship still in shambles.
Try making a list of at least five positive things about the person or people you’re in conflict with. Rebuke each negative thought that may try and seep its way in. You may find the good qualities outweigh the bad. Here are two resources to help you see the good first:
3. Believe it will get better.
Billy Graham once said, “Love and hatred cannot exist in our hearts at the same time.” Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 13:7, Paul reminds us that love and doubt are incompatible. There must be hope, and it’s more than a wish or a desire.
When praying for and acting toward reconciliation, you must believe the latter is possible.
Where is your hope when it comes to relationships with others? Do you truly believe things with your aunt will get better? Have you written your spouse off as a lost cause?
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The love we are to extend requires a faith walk, a hope in the unseen. Even if the optimism is one-sided, God can use the smallest glimmer of hope to soften the toughest heart.
>> LISTEN: Billy Graham’s Message ‘Christmas Hope’
4. Keep pressing.
Lastly, from 1 Corinthians 13:7, we learn that love “endures all things.” It does not give up. It doesn’t fade away. It doesn’t drift or shuffle. It presses on no matter the obstacle.
This Christmas and into the new year, vow to persevere toward resolving any conflicts you have as the Bible instructs (Matthew 5:23-24). Pray daily for reconciliation—for God to divinely intervene.
God’s everlasting love for us is the best example of perseverance there is. He is in constant pursuit of people who do lots to hurt Him. Yet, He extends love, grace and mercy that does not waver.
>> VIDEO: Watch Billy Graham’s Sermon on True Love