Part of the essence of being human involves relating to other human beings. We relate to our parents, spouse, extended family, friends, church community, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, and those we encounter during our ordinary rhythms of life. Depending on the week, we all encounter or engage at least dozens, if not hundreds of people—and for some thousands. That’s a lot of relating going on!
I think we all know that our relationships—regardless of the kind—should be healthy. In fact, part of the creation mandate includes human beings being “fruitful and multiplying” (Genesis 1:28). Sure, part of being fruitful and multiplying involves procreation, but at the core, fruitful and multiply speaks of human beings having healthy relationships with one another.
What constitutes a healthy relationship?
In the first three chapters of Genesis, based on the way God relates to mankind, I observe at least ten characteristics of a healthy relationship. And I believe that, if embraced and enacted, these characteristics will lead to healthier marriages, families, staffs, small groups, churches, and communities.
1. Work towards the good of others.
Before fashioning man from the dust of the ground, God had spent the early days of creation building out the framework and the environment that would house the humans. Before they were even brought into existence, God was working for their good. By creating a functioning environment, Adam and Eve would have everything they needed for flourishing.
Are your actions and activities working to bring about a healthy and functionable environment for others to flourish?
2. Breathe life into others.
After being fashioned from the dust of the ground, man lay there lifeless—devoid of breath. Yet, in his most intimate act of creation, God personally and intimately breathes into Adam the breath of life and instantly Adam became a living being. In addition, the Bible says that God “blessed” both man and woman. God’s blessing precedes his missional statement for humanity. Thus, the act of blessing is God’s way of breathing his presence, power, and purpose into man so that they might become who they were made to be and do what they were made to do.
Are you breathing life into others? In the way you engage others, are they becoming more of who they were made to be and what they were made to do? How well do you give words of affirmation and encouragement to those you are in relationship with?
3. Be present with others.
God creates a dwelling place, the garden of Eden, where he will dwell with humanity. Thus God will be in close proximity to his prized creation.
How present are you with those you are in relationship with? Are you physically, emotionally, and mentally present? Do others feel as though you have time for them? When you engage, are you distracted?