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   Good relationships all have one thing in common: Communication. Without communication, we are left without friendships which are built not only upon open communication, but upon other skills developed over a lifetime. And Scripture supplies us with insights on how to communicate and live peaceably with others. In fact, Scripture calls us to peace. Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but Elohim has called us to peace, 1 Corinthians 7:15. (New American Standard Bible used throughout, unless otherwise noted.)

   Marriage is the most intimate relationship one can have in this life. But because of unresolved issues – oftentimes, sin outstanding with one or both marriage partners – and a lack of communication between them, many marriages end in divorce. Another contributor to unsuccessful marriages is the spiritual “unequal yoking” between a believer and a nonbeliever. But the body of Messiah is called to a higher standard (Eph. 5:22-33).
  Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Messiah with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of Elohim with idols? For we are the temple of the living Elohim; just as Elohim said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR ELOHIM, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATED,” says Yahweh. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says Yahweh Almighty, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
  Separation can still occur, but there are resources available for challenged marriages: The Five Languages of Love, by Gary Chapman; His Needs, Her Needs, by Willard F. Hartley, Jr.; and, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Gray. They who have come into the faith already married, are given instruction not to seek dissolution of their marriages.
  Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you, 1 Corinthians 7:27-28.
My wife and I have a good marriage because we entered into the relationship committed to each other without reserving divorce as an option. And today, our marriage after 26 years is intact and flourishing.
  Yes, we’ve talked through some difficult things, sometimes with heightened emotions, but we’ve never given up. We have listened to each other and striven to make our marriage work with Yahweh and His Son, Yahshua, our focus. Their Spirit is active in our lives to make us become more than we would have been alone. The love we have for each other, and for Them, has increased over the life of our marriage – and perhaps aided the more by having read the resources previously mentioned. We advise anyone planning to marry to first seek counseling as preparation for a marriage that can prosper and grow.

Dealing with Others
   When dealing with others, Scripture provides protocols for believers and nonbelievers alike. For example, A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger, Proverbs 15:1.
  Generally, co-workers are not going to be our closest friends but we can still be friendly toward them. They might want us to participate with them in activities of a worldly nature, but we are called to a spiritual life.
  Some years ago, a man with whom I was working, was angry at me, and wouldn’t speak to me for some time. But eventually, I was able to sweeten his disposition by offering him candy – a gesture that changed his attitude toward me.
  Reaching out to others with the Truth will be met with different responses. Some are intent listeners. Others simply will not hear. Others still, will want to argue. And though we need to be ready in meekness to give an answer to them who ask us a reason of our hope, we don’t have to befriend everyone. We shouldn’t waste time with those not interested in righteousness or who care less about the Savior and their salvation. We must not compromise our relationship with Yahweh through Yahshua.
  Therefore, since Messiah has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of Elohim. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead, 1 Peter 1:4-5.
  Yes, they may not understand and may even talk about you behind your back. But it is better to submit to Yahweh than to man, and to nurture the answer of a good conscience that is void of offense toward Yahweh and toward man (Acts 24:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). Walk in the Spirit and don’t let the flesh get the best of you. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another, Galatians 5:25-26.

Be Humble with Outsiders
   People are more insulting and sarcastic than ever these days, and we can get caught up in their behavior. Though it is harder to do in today’s society which is less compassionate and exudes poorer manners, we should humble ourselves (Matt. 18:3-4). For Yahshua was focused on relationships in His teachings, and we do well to understand what He is saying to us.
  Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves, Matthew 10:16:
  You have heard that it was said, “AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.” But I say to you, “Do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also,” Matthew 5:38-39.
  Neither should we take that which is set apart and give to them unworthy to receive it (Matt. 7:6). Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet, Matthew 10:14.
  Sometimes, we just need to be silent and, figuratively speaking, turn the other cheek. Sure, this will require great humility and understanding, but as the people of Yahweh, we cannot be involved in the vengeance that occupies others’ pursuits. It helps to believe that revenge belongs to Yahweh, and not to us. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of Elohim, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says Yahweh, Romans 12:19. This alone, if obeyed by the world, would curtail many of the crimes about which we hear and read in the news.

Believers and Problems
   Everything should be done in an orderly manner. For Elohim is not an Elohim of confusion but of peace, as in all the assemblies of the saints, 1 Corinthians 14:33.
  At assembly meetings, we should remember that we are gathering with fellow believers, brothers and sisters in Messiah, coming before the Almighty with the purpose of praising and worshipping Him. We are those called out of the world, choosing to do what Yahweh wants and so, let’s remember why we are coming together and be loving, kind, and merciful – expressing the Fruit of the Spirit.
  This doesn’t preclude problems from occurring, but the Scriptures give us clear guidance in how to resolve problems when they occur. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well, James 3:2.
  We are not yet perfect. We have room for growth. A video I watched portrayed how foolish it is for the one with the plank to try and remove the speck out another’s eye. One held an imaginary log with two hands next to the eye compared to the other beholding a speck between two fingers. But the Scripture enjoins us, saying,
  Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? O how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye, Matthew 7:3-4.

When We’re the Problem
   Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, “I repent,” forgive him, Luke 17:3-4.
  Another video presentation showed a big man, taunted and provoked by two smaller men throwing objects at him, while saying, “Please forgive us. You have to forgive us.”
  While the story line is humorous, it brings out a point: Be aware of those who are truly repentant and they who aren’t. If one refuses rebuke but continues to sin, there is this instruction:
  If your brother sins go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly; and if he refuses to listen even to the assembly, let him be to you as Gentile and a tax collector, Matthew 18:15-17.
  Understand, these verses seek to redress civil and relational issues. Serious criminal activities – such as child molestation or domestic violence – need to be referred to appropriate law enforcement and judicial authorities for resolution (Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Pet. 2:13-14; Titus 2:1).
  Even in the Assembly and among brethren, as noted earlier, it is impossible but that offenses will occur (Luke 17:1). These require immediate attention. For example, a vile sexual sin was committed by a member of the Corinthian Assembly (1 Cor. 5). Paul rebuked the Assembly for not censuring and removing the offender (verses 1-2). Perhaps, the Apostle had Solomon’s counsel in mind, in addressing this issue: Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil, Ecclesiastes 8:11
  In the Corinthian example, some time later the individual became penitent as Paul records here:
  But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree – in order not to say too much – to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. … I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of Elohim produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, 7:9-10.
  This is an example of rebuking and then forgiving when the person or persons come to true repentance. As servants of Yahweh, we should without striving with another, patiently and gently seek to restore brethren from their mistakes (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
  Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Messiah. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself, Galatians 6:1-3.

Dealing with the Unrepentant
   If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and Elohim will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this, 1 John 5:16.
  What is the sin that leads to death? Unrepentant sin. Not only are we to refrain praying for those who defiantly live in sin, but we are to avoid them altogether. Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them, Romans 16:17. We are instructed to depart from those who won’t receive correction.
  Pride goes before a fall (Prov. 16:18). Knowledge, too, puffs up (1 Cor. 8:1). In Luke 18:10-14 – the account of the Pharisee and the tax collector – has given us an example. Many, like the Pharisee, are rich in the knowledge of Yahweh’s Word, but their knowledge swells their heart with pride. This can happen among brethren in the Assembly, too.
  Even elders can sometimes become corrupt and fall prey to Satan. They must be rebuked before all, as it is written:
  For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding, 2 Corinthians 10:12.
  Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning, 1 Timothy 5:20.

Dealing with the Righteous Servants
   Righteous servants aren’t just Elders and Deacons who should be above reproach, but includes members who do those things pleasing to the Father and who go out of their way to serve others, like some whom Paul commended, saying,
  Acknowledge them that refresh the Spirit. I rejoice over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have supplied what was lacking on your part. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men, 1 Corinthians 16:17-18.
  These had addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints (1 Cor. 16:15). Paul noted another brother,
  But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but Yahweh had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. Receive him then in the Master with all joy, and hold men like in high regard, Philippians 2:25-29.
  The Apostle noted many other servants and helpers… sisters also, who were esteemed among the brethren and who had assisted much in the work (Rom. 16:1-15).

Leadership, a High Standard
   Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of Elohim to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith … Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you, Hebrews 13:7, 17.
  Showing respect toward those to whom respect is due, is beneficial to us. Ultimately, it is Yahshua Who is our Head, Leader, Teacher, and Master. In another place, the Apostle instructed the brethren to esteem them who labored in the Word and admonished them, very highly for their work’s sake (1 Thess. 5:12-13). For each Elder and Deacon have been placed in the body to keep order and serve the body of Messiah by example. Peter spoke to the assemblies, saying,
  Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Messiah, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of Yahweh among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of Elohim; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as mastering it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory, 1 Peter 5:1-4.
  The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching, 1 Timothy 5:17.
  Leaders work together in making decisions affecting ministry among the brethren. The accounting of the Council at Jerusalem in Acts, Chapter 15, exemplifies the presbytery coming together to hammer out a problem they were having with some that would impose strictures upon new believers as conditional for salvation. Their consensus was carried out as they passed through the cities, they delivered the decrees to be observed, which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem (Acts 16:4).

   Natural relationships work with a balance of give and take. The Kingdom-life is lived in righteousness, both here and now, and having promise of the life that shall be (1 Tim. 4:8). Spiritual relationships work with a view toward all the parties thereto, forgetting what was behind (Phil. 2:13) and being renewed in the spirit of their minds (Rom. 12:2) and seeking, moreover, to be conformed into the image of Yahweh’s Son, Yahshua (Rom. 8:29).

-Elder David Brett

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