In Ephesians 4:17-32 Paul through the Holy Spirit tells us what relationships look like when the will of God is loved and pursued. The passage also identifies 7 tendencies we might have to do great damage to relationships. These tendencies are crucial both to consider and to avoid.
(1) The Tendency Toward Self-Indulgence. Relationships become all about what I want and what pleases me. People are “used” to serve the desires of the ones who makes a god out of self-indulgence. “But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:19-24).
(2) The Tendency Toward Deception. Truth can be twisted and manipulated in order to get what I want out of relationships. “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:25).
(3) The Tendency Toward Anger and Rage. Relationships are “controlled” by sinful venting, blow-ups, outbursts and holding things over others. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27).
(4) The Tendency Toward Selfishness and Stealing. Relationships become far more about taking than giving. They become more about protecting our interests than displaying genuine concern for others. “If you want it, take it” becomes a mantra by which one lives. “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28).
(5) The Tendency Toward Ungodly Communication. Rather than use my speech graciously and in the spirit of Jesus, I speak to enforce and to ensure my dominance in the relationship. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:29-30).
6) The Tendency Toward Division. I constantly feel prone to view you with antagonism and as an enemy rather than one created in the image of God and a companion in the struggle for healthy relationships. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Eph. 4:31).
(7) The Tendency Toward Callousness and AN Unforgiving Heart. I want to make others pay for the unkindness, hurts and wrongs I perceive have been done against me. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
There never has been a book written on relationships that begins to come close to that of the Bible and there never will be!