What relationship or relationships in your life do you most want to see grow? Even relationships that are healthy still need to grow. We especially feel the need for growth in relationships that are strained. One of the ways to strengthen our relationships is by intentionally improving our communication.
If we listen carefully to how the Apostle Paul speaks to the believers in Philippi, we learn several important lessons. Each of these lessons can be practiced at home with your family, at work with your colleagues, and in community as you interact with the world around you.
Here are four things Paul did that you can do:
First, express gratitude to and for the people in your life. Look carefully at Philippians 1:3-5 to see how Paul thanked God for the Philippians, and how he showed them. He told them how thankful he was to God for them. Do you tell people in your life you’re thankful to God for them? What a powerful thing to hear from someone!
Second, Paul affirmed God’s work in their lives as we see in Philippians 1:6. Paul was confident because he saw how the Lord was working in them. He saw it, told them he saw it, and said that he was confident God’s work would continue. Do you affirm God’s work in the lives of people you know and love? If you’ve ever personally had someone affirm you in that way, you know how impactful it can be.
Third, Paul was openly affectionate toward the Philippians. Look at Philippians 1:7-8. Paul told them how they were in his heart and that it was right for him to love them and have such strong feelings for them. Being openly affectionate toward those you know and love is so important. How many people have lifelong emotional scars because of withheld affection? How many sons and daughters long to hear their father say, “I love you so much.” Our Heavenly Father was openly affectionate toward his Son at His baptism. Paul was openly affectionate toward other believers. We can strengthen our marriages, bless our children, and enhance working relationships by being openly affectionate toward those we know and love.
Fourth, and finally, Paul prayed for them and told them specifically how he was praying. Have you tried that before? Not the generic, “I’m praying for you.” Instead, “I’m praying the love you have will keep growing, that God will give you the knowledge and discernment you need for this situation, and that your life will be filled with righteous fruit.” This is how Paul communicated in Philippians 1:9-11. He told them not just that he was praying, but specifically how he was praying. How would your spouse respond if you told them how you were praying for them or if you asked them how you could pray more thoughtfully for them? Over the years, I’ve had people not only tell me they were praying but also write letters to me to tell me how they were praying for me. Those are treasured possessions I return to from time to time for encouragement.
So what relationships in your life do you most want to see grow? Now, I would encourage you to use these lessons about how to communicate from Paul’s letter to the Philippians and see how the Lord will grow and strengthen those relationships. By His grace, you can change and so can your relationships.