Most people have had a relationship in their life where things did not go well. Whether it was a marriage, a friendship, or a coworker, it is not uncommon for us to occasionally have a problem getting along with someone. There are even numerous TV shows where individuals discuss their problems in front of a national audience. Many of these shows are nothing more than entertainment for those looking for a fight. Unfortunately, the mainstream media does not offer a show that provides Biblical advice for those in bad relationships.
Does the Bible teach about relationships?
Most people do not realize that the Bible is a book about relationships and only know the Bible as a book about religion. Jesus clarified that relationships were most important to God when He attended a dinner at Matthew’s house (Matthew 9:10-13). Jesus met Matthew, a tax collector, and told him to follow Him. Later, Jesus ate dinner at Matthew’s house with other tax collectors and people the Bible calls sinners. The use of the word sinners in this passage refer to people who would not commonly be seen as fine, upstanding, synagogue attending members of the community.
When the Pharisees saw Jesus eating with them, they asked the disciples why Jesus was eating with publicans and sinners. Jesus over heard them and said to them, “They that be whole need not a Physician, but they that are sick.” He followed with a challenge for them to go and learn what he meant and quoted Hosea 6:6, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” and followed with, “…for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
In Hosea 6:6, the words that Jesus quoted are followed by the words “…and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” This verse is part of a passage of scripture that rebukes a group of priests for destroying lives and committing lewdness. More specifically, they were rebuked for hypocrisy, teaching false doctrine, and emphasizing religious works over a relationship with God.
More from the Bible about relationships
Sometimes when I counsel people who are struggling in a relationship they think that all they need for me to do is point out who is wrong and send them on their way after a proper scolding. Or, they may want me to tell them what to do in one session and are not interested in investing the time or effort to learn about how to have a healthy relationship.
For any relationship to survive it must have a common foundation and purpose. If the individuals involved do not share common beliefs or worldviews that affect their relationship, there will be strife. Two or more people cannot walk together in harmony unless they are in agreement with how they walk (Amos 3:3). This is best illustrated in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. This passage tells us not to be unequally yoked  together with unbelievers. The idea of being unequally yoked is a reference to putting two different animals in a yoke while trying to plow a field. Different animals are different sizes, they have different gaits, and they have different attitudes when it comes to completing a task. When you have two different animals pulling a plow it makes it almost impossible to plow a straight line.
Likewise, people in a relationship who do not put the relationship above their own personal needs, wants, and attitudes, have difficulty moving forward. This passage of scripture makes a direct reference to Christians forming close relationships with non-believers. Be it in marriage, business, or other endeavors, the result will be the same. The more intimate the relationship, the more difficult it is to move forward together without common beliefs and attitudes.
What are the key elements of having a good relationship?
The Bible teaches in Philippians 2:1-8 the key elements of having a good relationship. First, there has to be a fellowship of the spirit founded in love and mercy. Second, all involved must be like-minded, having the same love, and willing to work together. Third, they must be determined not to handle issues through strife or motivated by pride. This means that they must be willing to humble themselves and treat the others better than themselves. But, this also involves each person caring more about the welfare of others than themselves.
Finally, we are taught that we should have the mind of Christ and model his example when it comes to relationships. He was not about making a name for Himself or making Himself look good. Instead, He took upon himself the role of a servant to humanity and humbled Himself to the point of even dying for our benefit. Jesus literally demonstrated the idea of loving God first and your neighbor as yourself to accomplish this.
This means there must be a motivation that enables each one of us to do this. For the believer, that motivation is our love for Christ because of what he did for us (1 John 4:19). For the nonbeliever, that motivation is usually based on the other person. Then when the other person does not live up to their expectations, things start to go wrong. For this reason, believers and non-believers should seek the advice of God’s Word when it comes to relationships. Likewise, for those needing additional help, a Biblical counselor should be sought.
Most of us have had a problem with the bad relationship. The Bible is a book about relationships and gives us clear advice on the same. The Bible teaches that for any relationship to survive it must have a common foundation and purpose. The key elements of having a good relationship are fellowship of the spirit founded in love and mercy, like-mindedness , and determination not to handle issues through strife or pride. Christ modeled this example in how He established and continues to maintain His relationship with us. Those that are involved in bad relationships should seek Biblical teaching and help on relationships.
More related reading here: 10 Reasons You Might Need Biblical Counseling 
Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. Photo credit: rendered from Logos Bible Software 6.0 visual copy.