This is a step by step guide to facilitating a group that wants to learn how to handle relationship problems from a biblical persepctive.
Introduction: Ask the group what problems they may have encountered in the past week. Explain that we ALL have problems in life, it is HOW we respond to those problems that matters! Ask what causes problems in our lives? Explain that though there are many reasons why we have problems in life, our relationships with other people often contribute significantly to whether our problems are major or minor. For many people, relationship troubles are the biggest trials they experience in life.
Read James 1:2 - Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. Explain: James tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trails. If our biggest trials come from relationship problems, does James mean that we should consider it pure joy when someone is annoying us or being a pain in neck? Ask: Is James crazy? Ask: What is real joy?
Explain: Someone said that happiness is an emotion that comes and goes based on circumstances of the moment but that joy is a state of mind that on one can take from us. We have to choose to be joyful even when we are surrounded by people who bring us pain. Ask: How can we make such a choice?
Read James 1:3-4 - We know that the testing of our faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Explain: When our faith is tested, and we persevere, we become stronger. When we become stronger, we also become more mature emotionally and spiritually. Too many of us are still emotional and spiritual pre-schoolers. It is time to grow up. Though we may not like everything that people around us do and we may not be able to control them, we can control how we respond to the actions of other people. There are two primary ways to respond to relationship pain: bitterness or loving acceptance
Read James 1:12 - Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Ask what the word "blessed" mean? Ask who is blessed according to this verse? Ask when did he get that blessing? Ask what does he receive when he has passed the test? Ask what "life" often symbolized in the Bible? Explain: Life often symbolized connection in the Bible. Having an abundant life meant being connected with both people and God on earth and also in heaven.
Conclusion: Explain: We all have people problems from time to time. We cannot control other people; we can only control our response to their actions. We can respond by becoming bitter and wishing harm on them. OR We can respond by accepting the love of God into our lives and letting that love transcend the pain people cause. The way of bitterness only leads to more pain. The way of love leads to better connections to people and to God both in this life and in eternity.