Building Lasting Relationships: Kindness (Colossians 3:12)
This is the fourth in a series of blogs on building lasting relationships. Each successive blog covers one specific reason relationships fall apart and how to avoid such an unhappy outcome in your relationships.
Some of the best advice available for people in relationships comes from Colossians 3:12 where we read: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” This is why it always amazes me how unkind people in relationships can be to each other. You would think people who care enough to form a relationship would treat each other kindly. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Sadly, unkindness is often a factor when relationships fall apart.
A common complaint from people who are struggling in a relationship is, “He (or she) treats strangers better than he (or she) treats me.” It is not uncommon for one partner in a relationship to feel like a punching bag for the other; a convenient target for verbal abuse, neglect, or even physical abuse. All too often, one partner in a relationship builds up anger, resentment, and frustration at work or from some other source and then dumps it on the other partner. Whereas their relationship should be a safe harbor for receiving much needed comfort and understanding, it becomes instead a battleground where outside frustrations are brought in and aired in ways that are hurtful and destructive.
Unkindness manifests itself in relationships in a variety of ways including verbal, physical, financial, or sexual abuse; betrayal of trust; mind games; using children as pawns in disagreements; abasement; social isolation; domination; aggressiveness (physical and verbal); neglect; and power games to name just a few examples. People who engage in these kinds of unkind behaviors in relationships have problems that go beyond just relationship issues. Make note of that last point.
Kindness in a relationship means being friendly, generous, considerate, caring, and encouraging. It also means being sincerely concerned for the best interests of the other person. Said another way, you don’t verbally, physically, sexually, financially, or socially abuse someone you love or care about. The best picture of what a loving, caring relationship should look like comes from the verse Galatians on which this column is based. Galatians 3:12 contains five specific elements that should be present in a loving and caring relationship: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
These elements from Galatians provide the best measuring stick I know of for gaging the quality of a relationship. If unkindness is an issue in your most important relationship, give your partner a copy of Galatians 3:12. Then discuss each of the elements in this verse. Any individual who sincerely wants to build a strong and lasting relationship will be willing to adopt these elements as his or her guide and proceed accordingly. Anyone who refuses to make a sincere effort to live out the guidance in this verse is not serious about the relationship and is in it for the wrong reasons.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com