Summary: This message illustrates the 7 habits of highly effective lovers through the relationship Paul had with the new believers in Galatia. In essence, if we want to be a highly effective lover, we must demonstrate grace in all our relationships.
7 Habits of Highly Effective Lovers (Galatians 4:12-20)
It was tax season, and Jane Osinki decided to surprise her husband, Henry, by getting their tax information in to their CPA early. She picked up the tax package their CPA had sent, scanned the forms, and noticed that Henry had already filled in some of the lines.
To the question, “Did your marital status change?” he had circled “Yes.” As far as Jane knew, they weren’t considering separation or divorce. In fact, they would soon celebrate their 50th anniversary – unless he had other plans.
She moved her hand to uncover the next two words: “Older … better.” She liked that change in status! (Jane M.D. Osinki, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 6; www.PreachingToday.com)
Older and better – That’s because they had learned to love each other well. & That can be the story of our relationships, too!
In fact, there are 7 habits of highly effective lovers that will work in
any relationship to make it older and better over the years. There are 7 habits of highly effective lovers that will improve not only our marriages, but also our relationships with our friends, our adult children, and even our co-workers.
We’re studying the book of Galatians together, and so far the Apostle Paul has appealed to the heads of his readers. He’s presented logical and theological arguments to prove that believers in Christ are free from the law. Now, he is going to appeal to their hearts. He is going to appeal to his readers on the basis of the relationship they have with him. And in that relationship, we’ll see those 7 habits of highly effective lovers that will improve any relationship.
Galatians 4:12 I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. (NIV)
“We have a good relationship; so be free like me,” Paul says, “for I became like you.”
When Paul, a Jew, came to Galatia, he didn’t expect the Gentiles there to conform to his Jewish ways in order for them to be in relationship with him. On the contrary, Paul conformed to their ways. He adapted himself to them. He changed himself without demanding that they change in order for them to become friends.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul says, “I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews… To those not having the law I became like one not having the law…so as to win those not having the law… I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-22).
Paul adjusted himself to the people he was trying to reach, and that’s what we must do if we want to become highly effective lovers.
We must ADUST OURSELVES. WE MUST ADAPT OURSELVES. WE MUST CHANGE OURSELVES for others without demanding that they change for us.
I remember Joni Eareckson Tada describing one of her first dates with Ken Tada, the man who is now her husband. She was concerned that he would not be able to lift her out of her wheelchair, so she lost weight to make it easier for him. On the other hand, he lifted weights in preparation for their date, getting himself ready for her special needs.
That’s true love, my friends – each adjusting to the other. It’s the first habit of a highly effective lover. & If you want your relationships to improve, then adjust yourself to those you love; don’t demand that they adjust themselves to you.
2nd, if you want to be a highly effective lover, ACCEPT OTHERS AS THEY ARE. RECEIVE THEM. WELCOME THEM EVEN WITH THEIR IMPERFECTIONS. That’s how the Galatian believers received Paul.
Galatians 4:13-14 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. (NIV)
When Paul came to Galatia, many Bible scholars believe he had malaria. He had just come from Perga, a town near the southern coast of what is now Turkey. It’s a low swampy area, which makes a good breeding ground for malaria infected mosquitoes.
Now, malaria itself is a terrible disease. The one who suffers with it has periodic bouts with chills, fever and nausea every 48 to 72 hours. And after each attack, the sufferer is left weak and feeling absolutely wasted until the next attack.