It took me decades to tell the difference between a good relationship and a bad one. I had a tendency to overlook the warning signs of a bad relationship in my eagerness to be popular.
People who bring out the worst in me are no longer in my life. I’ve learned to keep them at a distance.
What is the difference between a good relationship and a bad one?
Perhaps Christ said it best when He stated: “A tree is identified by its fruit. A tree from a select variety produces good fruit; poor varieties don’t.” (Matthew 12:33)
If a relationship makes you feel good about yourself and contributes to you becoming the best version of yourself that you can be, it’s a good relationship. If it makes you uncomfortable, fearful, ashamed, insecure or encourages hurtful, deceitful or unhealthy behavior, it’s bad.
Relationships are shaped by the nature of the people in them; a person’s nature is revealed in part by the things a person says.
Christ teaches, “A good man’s speech reveals the rich treasures within him. An evil-hearted man is filled with venom, and his speech reveals it.” (Matthew 12:35)
A person who speaks genuinely, lovingly, and with compassion reveals a good nature. A person who belittles, criticizes, lies, or uses an abundance of derogatory, abusive or hateful language reveals an evil nature. Good-natured people contribute to good relationships; bad-natured people do not.
Words are important because they unmask our hearts.
Christ warns us to choose our words carefully and not speak carelessly for the sake of noise: “Your words now reflect your fate then: either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37) If you don’t listen to what others say, you’ll never know what’s in their hearts. If you don’t say what you mean, your heart will not be known to others.
I pray to be wise enough to know my own heart and recognize the difference between relationships that make me a better person and those that do not. With God’s grace, my relationships will please Him.