Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we just all along? Try as hard as we might though, and despite even highly trained and experienced foreign diplomats struggling to navigate international relations with other highly trained and experienced diplomats, is it any wonder that the average person finds getting along with people one of the greatest challenges they have to deal with? We now live in a world where highly-paid specialist mediators help people to sort out their disagreements, and some legal firms now specialise their businesses on the fact that people just can’t get along and need lawyers to help! If you’re thinking that this is a rather expensive way to do life, you’re right. So the following advice might well save you hundreds (and maybe even thousands) of dollars (you can thank me later).
“However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” Matthew 17:27
There were times when Jesus expressed His disagreement with others, and other times when He chose not to.
When those collecting the Temple tax approached Peter and asked him whetherJesus would pay the two-drachma Temple Tax, Peter assured them that He would. Even before Peter had time to raise the matter with Jesus, Christ asked him whether kings tax their children or from others? (Matthew 17:25). Peter responded, “From others.” And since the Temple Tax was deigned to help with the upkeep of House of God, Christ’s Heavenly Father, Jesus said, “Then the sons are free” which was a way of saying that if anyone was exempt from paying the Temple tax, it was certainly the Christ. But Jesus gave this amazing insight are this declaration-
“However, not to give offence to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for Me and for yourself.” Matthew 17:27
WHAT WE LEARN FROM CHRIST ABOUT GETTING ALONG WITH OTHERS
1. DON’T POKE THE BEAR!
I find this both remarkable and tremendously insightful. It illustrates what I heard a visiting pastor say when I was a teenager sitting in church at Life Centre Geelong: You can be right and die, or die to your rights and live. This pastor wasn’t talking about human rights or particularly weighty matters. He was referring to most of the everyday squabbles that people find themselves arguing about with others. Jesus could have protested that He, above all people, should not be expected to pay the Temple Tax. But He didn’t. In fact, He stressed to Peter that He didn’t want to give offence to these Temple Tax collectors. Jesus was prepared to go toe-to-toe with Israel’s religious leaders over matters of eternal significance, but when it came to a relatively small Temple Tax, He simply paid it.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18
2. DIFFERENCES DO NOT HAVE TO MEAN HATE
Jesus chose twelve eclectic (different from each other) men to be His disciples. Not only did each of these men have a difference of opinion with Jesus about what the Messiah was going to do, they each wildly disagreed with each other about how to respond to their Roman occupation (Matthew was a tax-collector and Simon was a Zealot, Mark 3:18). This highlights that differences don’t have to mean hostility. Over time, these 12 diverse men at least came to agree about the thing that mattered most: the divine identity of the Christ. This point of agreement was enough to enable these men to overlook their other differences.
¶ Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Second Corinthians 13:11
A healthy relationship will never be free from disagreement—in fact, learning how to disagree is one of the hallmark’s of a healthy relationship.
3. WHAT CAN BUG YOU, CAN BECOME A BUG ON YOUR ‘WINDSCREEN OF LIFE’
Jesus chose twelve eclectic (different from each other) men to be His disciples. Not only did each of these men have a difference of opinion with Jesus about what the Messiah was going to do, they each wildly disagreed with each other about how to respond to their Roman occupation (Matthew was a tax-collector and Simon was a Zealot, Mark 3:18). This highlights that differences don’t have to mean hostility. Over time, these 12 diverse men at least came to agree about the thing that mattered most: the divine identity of Jesus as the Christ. This point of agreement was enough to enable these men to overlook their other differences. But when we choose to focus on our lesser important points of disagreement it tends to cause us to see problems and disagreements everywhere! When someone is repeatedly getting annoyed with you about relatively minor things, its an indication that there is a “bug” on their “life-windscreen” through which they are now letting everything bug them. Sometimes you just have to ask, “What’s really going on? Is everything OK?” You might find that things are not going well at home/work/school. It might then help to ask, “Is there anything I can do to help?” Sometimes you might find that what originally looked like annoyance with you was actually frustration with someone else.
Good sense makes one slow to anger,/and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
4. EVERYONE HAS A STORY
We all do it. We pre-judge people. It’s not until we hear someone’s story and take the time to understand what makes them tick that we begin to see them for who they really are. If you really want to get along with someone, invite them to share their story with you. Jesus knew people’s stories. When He asked Simon the Pharisee whether he “saw this woman” who had just wept over Jesus feet with her tears and then dried them with her hair (Luk 7:44), the unspoken answer was “No”. But Jesus did. Jesus saw this woman. He knew her story. Understanding is one of the most attractive forces in the universe. We are all involuntarily drawn to those who understand us. If you want to get along with others, understand them. Jesus did.
If you can implement these four relationship principles, you might find that you’ll be able to get along with more people and in the process save yourself a bucket load of money that would have otherwise been spent on lawyers or mediators.