Rules of Engagement

Each day we have hundreds or even thousands of interactions with other people.  We talk on the phone, send emails, text messages, tweets, Facebook likes, and even talk in person.  Think back to all of your interactions from today so far.  If you had to place them in three bins: positive, negative, or neutral – how full would each bin be?  Researchers have been looking at this topic for some time, and asked, what is the magic ratio needed for healthy and positive relationships?  This question has been tested by a number of different researchers and they concluded that you need a ratio of either 5:1 or 7:1 of positive to negative interactions for a healthy relationship.  1:1 is a little unhealthy and anytime the negative outweighs the positive is dysfunctional.

I took some time to look through scripture to see what God had to say about how we interact with one another, and I found that God says a lot in the Bible about this. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up,”(Ephesians 4:29 ESV) “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18 ESV) “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” (Psalm 34:13 ESV)  “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” (James 1:26 ESV)  These are just four out of numerous texts that I found all dealing with our interactions with each other.  The scriptures are clear, our words carry a great deal of power, and we need to handle them with care as we interact with one another.

Think back again to all your interactions and the bins you placed them in.  Now take a moment to think about your relationships with your family and friends.  What about with your co-workers?  What kinds of interactions do you have most often with your church leaders, or other Christians?  If we are honest with ourselves, we often have far more negative interactions with those around us than good.  We are quick to complain, offer “suggestions,” and otherwise call into question everyone and everything.

Today is a new day though, and we hear in scriptures that God’s mercies are new each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).  Keep these verses in mind as you walk through your day today.  I don’t want to suggest that you need to pretend to be positive to meet some magic quota, but instead to bring a different attitude to your day.  If you are looking for a reason to complain, trust me you will find it, but if you are seeking to encourage, you would be surprise what God will show you to be encouraged about.

Let me get this started…have I told you recently how much I like you?

Pastor Bill

Discussion Questions

  1. Where do you struggle the most with negativity in your life?
  2. What relationship do you believe would see the greatest impact by a change in attitude?
  3. Do you feel different when you are having positive interactions vs. negative ones?  How?
  4. Take a moment right before to send a short note of encouragement.