Summary: Paul deals with elements involved in building good relationships as well as elements that will destroy relationships.
A. Have you noticed that building and maintaining relationships is difficult and takes effort?
B. I recall one emphasis Southern Baptists had entitled Building Witnessing Relationships.
1. It emphasized building relationship with unsaved people so they would know we actually cared about them and not just about sharing the gospel.
2. Through the relationship we earned the right to share with them.
3. It reminded us people don’t care what we know until they know we care.
4. So we became friends and through the friendship we’re able to demonstrate our faith in Christ and share as we have opportunity.
C. Think of the many elements involved in building and maintaining relationships.
1. It takes time to get to know someone. While some date only a few weeks or months before marrying, most take months and even years.
2. Just when we think we have someone figured out, they act in totally uncharacteristic ways.
3. It’s good for people to figure this out before the vows are stated.
4. Think of the relationship with parents. They treat us like a child, no matter how old we are, and when they get older, chances are we will have to treat them like a child.
5. Moms never quit being moms no matter how old the children get.
6. And the road is not always smooth with our children and grandchildren.
7. In spite of our best efforts, our children grow up and don’t learn how to parent like we taught and demonstrated. So as a grandparent we have to step in and remind them how to do it right.
8. And what about our relationship with our spouses? Twenty or fifty years of marriage doesn’t remove the challenges of getting along. There are still differences and peculiarities we have to tolerate.
9. Then add to the mix friends, employers, employees, and social acquaintances, and we conclude that building relationships is difficult work indeed.
D. In the remainder of this chapter, Paul deals with elements involved in building good relationships as well as elements that will destroy relationships.
E. We can compare the art of building good relationships with building blocks.
F. I recall the blocks I had and my children had with letters on them. Not only could we build things but letters, the alphabet and even words could be taught in the process.
I. Blocks That Enhance Relationships (vv. 9-21)
1. Several types of love are mentioned in the Bible.
2. Sexual love between a man and woman as well as perversions of God’s original intent of this love. (Eros)
3. Love as demonstrated between friends. (phileo)
4. The most commendable is agape’ and represents the type of love God had and has for us.
5. Good relationships cannot survive without love whether they are sexual in nature or just casual friendships.
6. Unfortunately we have a twisted definition of love and what it entails in our society.
7. It is most often equated with sex whether between a married couple or not.
8. Paul warns against pretending to love others and instructs us to really love them.
9. We’ll save the pretending to love for later and deal with the really loving now.
10. What characterizes real love, whether it relates to a sexual union or friendship?
11. The definition is found in another of Paul’s epistles: I Corinthians 13:4-8.
12. Listen to the definition: love is patient, kind, not jealous, boastful, proud or rude, doesn’t demand its own way, doesn’t keep records of wrongs, doesn’t rejoice over wrong but rejoices when truth wins out, it never gives up or loses faith but is always hopeful and endures through all circumstances. It will last forever.
13. I’m afraid it will take us a lifetime and more to master the list.
14. We’ve heard the statement; “Patience is a virtue.” It is. While patience might have been a normal part of the human makeup initially, sin has certainly tainted that. We tend to be impatient. Things and people get on our nerves. Circumstances aggravate us.
15. Depending on what type of personality we have, patience will be easy or difficult for us. But don’t blame God by saying, “Well you gave me this personality so I can’t help it when I lose my temper.” That’s not an acceptable excuse for others or God.
16. Genuine love will express it itself in kindness. It can’t help it. It just naturally happens. And the kindness will be genuine not motivated by an ulterior motive that seeks recognition or compensation.
17. Kind people look for opportunities to help others. They have the ability to just naturally see opportunities to help. They don’t have to be motivated to be kind.
18. Nor is true love jealous. While God is jealous in that he guards his relationship with us and will not let anything damage it, he is not jealous in the sense the Bible warns against.