Family Life and Friendships
Many find it daunting to maintain strong personal relationships. Consider some Bible principles that can help you improve your life socially.
BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”—Philippians 2:4.
WHAT IT MEANS: Successful relationships are more about giving than about receiving. If you follow a selfish course of life, you can damage your relationships with others. For example, a selfish marriage mate may be disloyal to his or her partner. Additionally, nobody wants to make friends with a person who always boasts about what he owns or knows. Thus, as the book The Road to Character says, “self-centeredness leads in several unfortunate directions.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Help others. Strong friendships stem from a sense of commitment and trust. Some studies indicate that people who help others suffer less from depression and boost their own self-esteem.
Show empathy. Empathy has been described as feeling another person’s pain in your heart. If you show empathy, you will be less likely to use biting sarcasm, that is, sharp and often ironic expressions intended to hurt the feelings of another person.
When you show empathy, you also become tolerant of others. Thus, empathy can help you to avoid being prejudiced and also to make friends from different cultures or backgrounds.
Give of your time. The more time you spend with others, the better you will get to know them. You need to have meaningful conversations with others to make real friends. So be a good listener. Show interest in your friends’ concerns. A recent study states that “deep conversations may actually make people happier.”
CHOOSE FRIENDSHIPS WISELY
BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Bad associations corrupt good morals.”—1 Corinthians 15:33, footnote.
WHAT IT MEANS: The people you spend time with have a great influence on you—for good or for bad. Sociologists agree that such influence can affect your life. For example, they say that if you surround yourself with people who smoke or who are getting divorced, you may be more likely to start smoking or to want a divorce.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Make friends with people who display qualities and have values you admire or want to imitate. For instance, seek association with people who are tactful, respectful, generous, and hospitable.
OTHER BIBLE PRINCIPLES
AVOID HURTFUL SPEECH.
“Thoughtless speech is like the stabs of a sword.”—PROVERBS 12:18.
“The generous person will prosper.”—PROVERBS 11:25.
TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.
“All things . . . that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them.”—MATTHEW 7:12.