“What is the key to healthy relationships?” This question is not limited to the context of marriage. Healthy relationships are needed in the areas of family, friends, and church family. For those who profess faith in Christ, we know we are called to proclaim the gospel of how people can be reconciled to God. However, some of the time we miss out on showing them what that looks like in our life. In other words, we use words to share with them the gospel (which we must do) but we neglect to show how that very gospel has impacted our lives.
The Gospel and Our Relationships
The truth is the gospel changes everything. The gospel impacts every area of life, especially your relationships. So, to ask, “What is the key to a healthy relationship?” the answer is unsurprisingly the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, do not mistake the answer as an oversimplified solution. The gospel truly is the answer.
In the gospel, we see the person and work of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says it all, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The gospel reveals our source for salvation is not in ourselves but in Christ. We are not saved by our righteousness, but by Christ’s righteousness. Only as we are in Christ are we made right with God.
Clearly, then, 2 Corinthians 5:21 speaks to our relationship with God. But how does this truth inform our relationships with one another? As Dr. Paul David Tripp shares the video above: what God gives us in His Son is a righteousness that is not our own. In our relationships, we too often live with a sense of our own “righteousness”. What does this look like? We get defensive when we feel we are being confronted or corrected. Rather than seeking to be transparent, we are known to be unapproachable. Instead of admitting to our mess, we seek to cover it up.
Does all this sound familiar? It should. We are all guilty of this. We somehow think we must measure up. The problem is the focus is on us. We cannot measure up. We are sinners. What the gospel does is it reveals our fallenness and leads us to confess it. We repent of our sin and we trust in the righteousness of another. We stand righteous before God because of Christ. When we realize that, we don’t try to hide the mess and pretend to be something we are not. Before God and others, we admit to our mess and deal with our mess. How do we deal with our mess? In our relationships.
The Gospel in Our Relationships
The key to any healthy relationship is the gospel. This gospel produces two essential qualities for healthy relationships:
Quality #1: The Humility of Approachability: “I become an approachable person because I am resting in a righteousness that is not my own”. When we sin, we ought to be humble enough that brothers and sisters in Christ can approach us to correct and restore us.
Quality #2: The Courage of Loving Honesty: “I am not afraid to speak the truth to you because I am not afraid of your rejection, because my well-being is not in your acceptance. My well-being is in the acceptance that was purchased by righteous Christ.” When we see others living in sin, we must do the most loving thing and speak the truth to them for the sake of their salvation and sanctification.
Are You Applying the Gospel?
Are you letting the gospel impact the way you deal with your relationships? Are you an approachable person who knows they need accountability? Are you willing to speak the truth in love in your relationships, even when that means correcting and confronting? As a follower of Jesus Christ, be a humble and approachable person who is courageous enough to speak honestly and lovingly in your relationships.
This post was written by EBG Lead Writer and Founder Theron St. John. His joy is serving God and His people, both in the church and the academy. He is the associate pastor of Blue Ridge Christian Union Church in Shelbyville, Indiana and an adjunct professor at Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis.