After a hectic week with a conference last week, finishing off by preaching at church was simply a joy. As I got some great feedback regarding the message, and with a couple of people being in kids and unable to hear the message (technology let us down yesterday), I’ve put a skeleton of my notes as this week’s post.
The premise that I was going for was that in our society of instant gratification, we have become accustomed to dealing on second-best (and many times far worst) in our relationships. The Bible teaches us that relationships are based not on selfish desires, but on selflessness; on sacrifice and love. I draw these conclusions by reading through the book of Ephesians. I find it interesting how Paul often writes to churches that are struggling with some sort of issue or theological questions, but with the case of the letter to the Ephesians, he wrote solely to encourage them as he had heard that they were going well. The two main things that he covered in the letter was the foundation of the Gospel (e.g. grace, adoption, etc), and then he dives into how we are to act towards one another because of our salvation. He covers a range of relationships we would encounter in our day to day life, such as between parents and children, spouses, employee and employer, and to church brothers and sisters. In other words I believe that Paul was encouraging the church to continue growing in their knowledge and love for the gospel, as well as in their love for one another. These two areas will ensure continued maturity in life!
For us to be able to live selflessly in our relationships then, we need to do so out of a place of understanding of the gospel. We are unable to naturally love continuously unless we are rooted in God’s love! By default, we as human beings take and take when it comes to relationships instead of being generous and giving. We take value, validation, attention and affirmation from people around us, and in the process such them dry instead of build them up. I say this not our of condemnation but out of experience. My first relationship ended because I was turning to my girlfriend to find my identity. Such behaviour can only lead to burn out. Paul teaches us that we need to understand our identity and position in Christ to truly allow us to love people around us unconditionally. So with that, here are 2 perspective changes that we need to take on in order to have relationships that are top-notch instead of second best:
1. I can because He has.
The Gospel is one of God giving graciously to us. He made us whole, blameless, gave us a destiny and calling, and continues to work in us (Eph 1:3-14). We need to understand the store of God’s goodness available to us. His intention is to have us filled up with Him, in order that we can live for His glory. So we don’t have to go around from person to person looking for someone to give us value because our value is solely from God alone! And He has done everything necessary for you to live up to your God-given destiny!
2. I can because I am.
This revelation was very true for me. Growing up in a household where I was greatly supported and given love and acceptance, I still went around looking for a girlfriend to further prove my worth. When that relationship broke down, God really spoke to me and help me to see that even though I knew of God’s promises in His word, I preferred to work for it rather than accept it as a gift. But when I realised that I was a child of God and that I simply needed to accept the gifts of God, it opened up a new way of living. In fact I realised how painful it is for God to hold out His gifts to us, and we turn around and say “I’d rather work for that”. Understand that you’re God’s child, and take the gifts that you may be able to live life full!
Relationships in the world needs work. It needs perseverance. And only with God are we able to live that way. Let this be an encouragement to you: you CAN go the distance because God has already done everything necessary to allow it to happen, and because you’re His child 🙂