Sermon: Right Relationships Theme: Foundations for Life Date: Preacher: 16 November 2008 – Morning and Evening Service Pastor Francois van Niekerk Introduction Relationships form part of our everyday existence. The Cross of Christ is a wonderful reminder of how important relationships are in all of life. The very first and most important relationship is with God (indicated by the vertical beam of the cross). This is followed by our relationships with one another (signified by the horizontal beam of the cross). There is a Godly order reflected in this too. Right relationship with God precedes right relationship with people. If my relationship with God is in the right place then I will be able to stand in good relationship with other people as well. In the Gospel of John the Bible clearly says that if you love God you cannot hate man. Human relations literally hang on our God relationship. The image of the Cross of Christ is a reminder of the importance of relationships in our lives! Life is great when we stand in right relationship with God and with each other! Text: Mark 12: 30-31(NKJV) ‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”’ Main points 1. How do we relate to each other? The best relationships are those with the hallmarks of grace and truth – grace leading to forgiveness and tolerance; and truth leading to honesty and steadfastness. Let the golden rule in Matthew 7:12 rule in your life: ‘Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.’ 2. Our calling to ‘one another’ When we are rightly related and connected to God we can no longer stand indifferent to each other. There are many ‘one another’ scriptures found in God’s Word (NIV): o o o o o o Love one another – John 13:34; Be devoted to one another – Romans 12:10; Honour one another in brotherly love – Romans 12:10; Live in harmony with one another – Romans 12:16; Accept one another – Romans 15:7; Instruct one another – Romans 15:14; o o o o o o o o o o o o o o Agree with one another – 1 Corinthians 1:10; Serve one another in love – Galatians 5:13; Bear with one another – Ephesians 4, Colossians 3:13; Be kind and compassionate to one another – Ephesians 4:32; Forgive one another – Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13; Submit to one another – Ephesians 5:21; Admonish one another – Colossians 3:16; Encourage one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13; Spur one another on to good deeds – Hebrews 10:24; Do not slander one another – James 4:11; Live in harmony with one another – 1Peter 3:8; Offer hospitality to one another – 1 Peter 4:9; Clothe yourselves with humility towards one another – 1 Peter 5:5; and Have fellowship with one another – 1John 1:7 Living in these truths and accepting them as your responsibility toward each other causes us to experience true family. 3. Discern different relational levels or types There are many different types and levels of relating to each other. I can think of quite a few: o o o o o o Children to parents; Employer to employee; Casual connections versus official ones; Deep friendships in contrast to acquaintances; Formal partnerships; and Those all-important family connections. We need to discern the different levels of our connection with people and adjust our behavior and expectations accordingly. I cannot expect the same personal care and commitment from the greengrocer as I from the person I married. Relationships suffer serious setbacks when there are unmet expectations. Relationships will also suffer if we fail to discern our relational capacity and make commitments that we cannot deliver. Never over-promise and under-deliver! I saw a one-ton bakkie loaded with three tons of cement standing next to the road – with its wheels folded in! We can have certain basic expectations from each other as believers but even this depends upon the individual person’s spiritual maturity. There will be some understandable frustrations concerning immaturity. We cannot expect unbelievers to act in a godly and loving way. Unless you learn to discern and adjust your expectations correctly, you will be disappointed in relationships. On a purely human level it is good to have something like a bill of rights that gives basic guidelines for affording each other the dignity and respect that we all deserve. For real Christians however, this should not be necessary as we have God’s Word and His Spirit in us to direct us towards the higher law of God’s love! 4. Submission and authority A very serious spiritual principle that has bearing on our relationships is the one of submission. It is a subject that is rarely preached on because of the controversy it has stirred, mainly due to the abuse of power. Nevertheless it remains a biblical principle and has attached to it the vital issue called authority! (See the example of the Centurion in Matthew 8:9) Submission is the attitude of the heart that makes us willing to be held accountable for biblical truth by anointed and appointed spiritual leaders. Biblical submission is never done in violation of the Bible’s moral code! The Bible calls us to submit to: o o o o God and His Word – James 4:7, Luke 5:4-6; Civil government – Romans 13:1; One another as believers – Ephesians 5:21; and Spiritual leaders – Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 5:5 Also: o Wives are called to submit to husbands – Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18; o Employees to employers – 1Peter 2:18. Throughout Scripture submission is linked to authority. (See the example of Saul in 1Samuel 15:23) The attitude opposite of submission is rebellion. In the Scriptures it is called the sin of rebellion. You cannot expect submission from others unless you are submitted to authority yourself. In acknowledging and honouring authority you are awarded true authority. True biblical authority is based in submission. (See the example of Jesus in 1 Peter 2:18-23) Submission is rewarded by genuine authority. Humble yourself and He will lift you up! Conclusion Are you in right relationship with God? Do you have right relationships within your family and marriage? Are your relationships with believers and other people around you right? Are you submitted where you should be or are you a law unto yourself? Relate right and stay tight – with each other and with God!