Barriers and Antidotes to Healthy Relationships

(Download PDF copy)


Romans 12:5 “Christ makes us one body and individuals who are connected to each other.” (God’s Word Translation)


For the past month we have been involved in “40 Days of Community.”  The goal of our study has been to build healthy relationships in order to deepen the community life in our church family so together we can make a greater impact upon our surrounding community. 


We have learned that we fellowship better together, we grow better together, we serve better together, we worship better together and we reach out better together. 


Whether you are single, married, divorced, have a nuclear or a blended family you need to build healthy relationships.  I want to present several barriers to building healthy relationships and give a key factor in breaking through each barrier.


You will see in your notes on the back flap of the worship folder the four barriers and four attitudes that build relationships.


The first barrier to building healthy relationships is self-centeredness.


  1. The answer to Self-centered attitudes


James 4:1-2 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but don’t get it.  You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.  You quarrel and fight.  You do not have, because you do not ask God.”


James is talking about self-centeredness when he wrote: “You want something, but don’t get it.  You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.  You quarrel and fight.”  Self-centered and selfish desires seem to be inborn in children.  Children often verbalize – “I want what I want, when I want it.”  It’s human nature to be selfish.


In the October 27th Daily Bread Elisa Morgan, president of MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) gives insight into a child’s world – Toddler’s Creed


If I want it, it’s mine.  If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine.

If I can take it away from you, it’s mine.

If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.

If it’s mine, it will never belong to anyone else, no matter what.

If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.

If it looks just like mine, it is mine.


Many relationships start out okay but over time selfish attitudes can develop. 


Dennis & Barbara Rainey in their book Staying Close suggest there are several stages in marriage.


 The first year:  “Baby darling, I’m worried about that sniffle.  So I’ve called the paramedics to rush you to the Hospital for a checkup and a week of rest.  And I know you don’t like hospital food, so I’m having gourmet meals brought in for you.”  That’s the first year. 


Second year of a marriage:  “Sweetheart, I don’t like the sound of that cough.  I’ve arranged for Dr. Knotts to make a house call.  Let me tuck you in bed.”

Third year of a marriage:  “You look like you’ve got a fever.  Why don’t you drive yourself over to Walgreens, get some medicine, I’ll watch the kids.”  You know, very caring.


Fourth year:  “Look, be sensible.  After you’ve fed and bathed the kids, washed the dishes, you really ought to go to bed.”


Fifth year:  “For Pete’s sake, do you have to cough so loud?  I can’t hear the TV.  Would you mind going into the other room while this show is on?  You sound like a barking dog.”  One guy said, “You know, in the first year of marriage, my wife used to bring me my slippers and the dog came barking.  Now my dog brings me slippers.”


Selfish attitudes torpedo healthy family relationships.


I read a story this week that illustrates the consequences of selfish attitudes. 


A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package; what food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a mousetrap! Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning, "There is a mouse trap in the house, there is a mouse trap in the house." The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell you this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me; I can’t be bothered."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mouse trap in the house."

"I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse," sympathized the pig, "but there is nothing I can think of to do about it. Surely someone else will step in to help."

The mouse turned to the cow, who replied, "Like wow, Mr. Mouse, a mouse trap; am I in grave danger, Duh?" So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.
The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital.

She returned home with a fever. Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.


His wife’s sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer’s wife did not get well, in fact, she died, and so many people came for her funeral the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.
So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when the least of us is threatened, we are all at risk. Self-centered attitudes can serve like a boomerang and come back to hurt you.


The answer to selfishness is having an attitude that is others centered.  Being others centered builds healthy relationships.  Having the attitude of “less of me and more of you” helps you win friends and influence people.


Galatians 6:7-8 “The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others - ignoring God! --- harvests a crop of weeds.  All he’ll have to show for it in his life is weeds.  But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life and eternal life.” (Message)

A life of selfishness sows weeds, but a life of selflessness plants God’s love and kindness and reaps a harvest of blessing and eternal life.  Philippians 2:4 (NLT) “Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.”


The more we are focused on encouraging and helping others the less we think about ourselves.  Paul wrote in Galatians 5:16, “Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit, then you won’t feed the compulsion of selfishness.”  (Message)


Our natural tendency is to look out for number one.  As we surrender to the Holy Spirit we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us to become more others centered and selfless in our outlook on life.


Self centered attitudes destroy relationships, but being others centered builds healthy relationships.


  1. The answer to Pride


Pride often leads to a critical and judgmental attitude.  Proverbs 16:18 describes the consequences of having pride, “Pride will destroy a person.  A proud attitude leads to ruin.” (New Century Version)  The Message gives this paraphrase of Proverbs 16:18, “First pride then the crash, the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.”

What causes a person to have a critical attitude?  A critical attitude often emerges because you can’t stand for anyone to get ahead of you.  You are jealous.  You take comfort in finding fault with others to better forget your own faults.


In many cases when a person gossips and criticizes someone they do not have all the facts and give unjust criticism.


A London news paper relayed the story of a pastor facing slander.  It was told that his wife was attending a certain meeting, and the minister went there in a rage, used violence and dragged his wife from the hall and compelled her to go home with him.


When the story reached the Pastor he relayed to his congregation the facts one Sunday morning.  “This story is quite impossible he said.  In the first place, I never attempt to influence my wife in her views nor in her choice of company.  Second, my wife did not attend the meeting in question.  In the third place, I did not go near the meeting myself.  To conclude, neither my wife nor I had any inclination to go to the meeting.  Finally, I have no wife.”


Pride destroys relationships, but humility builds healthy relationships.  Jesus modeled servant leadership.  He led with humility. 


Having the attitude of humility builds healthy relationships.  Philippians 2:3, 5-6 (NLT) says, “…Be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves…your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God.”


In John 13 Jesus took on the role of a servant and washed the feet of His disciples.  In effect Jesus was saying, “As you have observed what I have done so I want you to do. When I’m no longer around I want you to continue to serve one another.”


I Peter 3:8 “Live in harmony.  Be sympathetic.  Love each other.  Have compassion, and be humble.” (God’s Word Translation)  When you possess an attitude of humility you are not ashamed to admit when you’re wrong and say, “I’m sorry.”


# Many years ago a Christian professor Stuart Blackie of the University of Edinburgh had to make a humble apology.  He was listening to his students as they presented oral readings.  When one young man rose to begin a recitation, he held his book in the wrong hand.  The professor thundered, “Take your book n your right hand, and be seated!”  At this harsh rebuke, the student held up his right arm.  He didn’t have a right hand!  The other students shifted uneasily in their chairs.


For a moment the professor hesitated.  Then he made his way to the student, put his arm around him, and with tears streaming from his eyes, said, “I never knew about it.  Please, will you forgive me?”  His humble apology made a lasting impact on that young man. 


This story was told some time later in a large gathering of believers.  At the close of the meeting a man came forward, turned to the crowd, and raised his right arm.  It ended at the wrist.  He said, “I was that student.  Professor Blackie led me to Christ.  But he never could have done it if he had not made the wrong right.”


Do you want to conquer pride and a critical spirit?  Choose your friends carefully.  You tend to become like the people you spend time with, grumpy or happy.  Spend time with Jesus.  Jesus will change your way of thinking and make you into a new person.  A humble person…


Self-centered attitudes destroy relationships but attitudes of selflessness build healthy relationships.


Pride destroys relationships, but humility builds relationships.


A third attitude that destroys relationships is insecurity.


  1. The answer to Insecurity


Proverbs 29:25 (Message) “The fear of human opinion disables.”


When you fear the opinions of other people you try to control people and that destroys healthy relationships. 


Fear of rejection is a deep fear that destroys relationships.  You may think, “Someone may hurt me once, but never again – a strong wall is built.” 


You may have been rejected in the past by a teacher, a boy or girl friend, a parent or co-worker.  Jesus understands rejection.  Jesus understands how you feel.


In Christ you can have positive self awareness and positive self acceptance.  To God you have great value.  You were not created to be someone else.  God appreciates you and wants you to feel good about yourself. 


From several Scripture verses we have great promises.  Here is a summary of Isaiah 43:4, Jeremiah 31:3 and Isaiah 49:16. 

“You are precious and honored in my sight and I love you.  I have loved you with an everlasting love…I have engraved your name on the palm of my hands.”


Love is the answer to insecurity.  Genuine authentic love builds healthy relationships.  I John 4:18 (NLT) says, “Love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear.  If we are afraid…it shows that his love has not been perfected in us.”


In your own strength you cannot love, but you can love with God’s love.  Jesus gave dignity to all men.  He looks at every person through the eyes of love and compassion.  Jesus didn’t see a man’s shabby coat, his defects in speech.  Jesus said of a scorned, renegade tax collector, “Zacchaeus also is the son of Abraham.”


Jesus treated people with dignity.  Jesus was courteous to a woman other good people ostracized.  When Jesus invited himself to the house of Zacchaeus he knew he would lose the respect of others, but that didn’t matter.  Jesus was interested in restoring the man’s long-vanished self-respect.  Because Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus into his home and his heart,--- Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today.”  Luke 19:9


Self-centered attitudes destroy relationships.

Self-less attitudes builds healthy relationships.

Pride destroys relationships.

Humility builds healthy relationships.

Insecurity destroys relationships.

Genuine love builds healthy relationships.

God’s love gives you self acceptance and self confidence.




  1. The answer to Resentment


A fourth barrier to healthy relationships is “resentment.”  Resentment destroys relationships.


Job 5:2 (Today’s English Version) ”To worry yourself to death with resentment is a foolish, senseless thing to do.”


You cannot afford to allow resentment to eat away at your soul like cancer.  Learn to show love to EGR people (Extra Grace Required).  Some people are like sand-paper.  They do all they can do to make your life miserable.  So what do you do?  Sweep the irritation under the rug.  “No,” confront the person in love.  To do nothing quickly turns their problem into your problem.  You become resentful.


When you become resentful you stop thinking clearly.  Your logic goes out the door and you don’t think rationally.  Remember resentment doesn’t hurt the other person, it only hurts you.  It’s like shooting yourself with a shotgun to hit the person with the kick of the recoil.  Resentment causes you to get all tied up inside while the other person is as happy as a clam.


Resentment is self-defeating.  The Psalmist stated a truth in Psalm 73:21-22 (New American Bible) “Since my heart was embittered (resentful) and my soul deeply wounded, I was stupid and could not understand.”


The antidote to resentment is forgiveness.


Forgiveness builds healthy relationships.  Colossians 3:13, “You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Forgiveness is a gift from the Lord.  You can only forgive someone who has hurt you and caused you pain with the help of the Lord.  Only with God at work in you can you forgive and let go of pain and your right to get even.  The risen Lord says, “Give me all your burdens and cares because I care for you.” I Peter 5:7 


If you have been wandering in the desert of resentment allow the Lord to turn your desert into an oasis.  Isaiah 43:18-19 (God’s Word Translation)  “The Lord says, ‘Forget what happened before and do not think about the past.  I am going to do something new…I will make rivers on dry land.”


As Christ followers we want to build healthy relationships-

            Overcome selfish attitudes with selfless attitudes

            Overcome pride with humility

            Turn insecurity into authentic love by possessing self

            acceptance and self confidence

            Overcome resentment with forgiveness.


This week let’s all build healthy relationships – let’s model servant leadership.