Summary: If we are going to enjoy healthy relationships, we must watch our attitude.
In verses 3 and 4, Paul speaks about the importance of our relationship to one another. In so doing, he cites the example of our Savior in verses 5-8, and tells us that if we are going to rightly relate to one another, we must seek to possess the same attitudes our Lord possessed as He reached out to us.
When Jesus left His throne in glory, He did so in the effort to establish a right relationship between Himself and mankind. Jesus came to this world in the effort to make it possible for you and me to have an eternal friendship with Him. Since this is true, it stands to reason that we, too, will find the friends we need in life, if we will emulate our Lord’s attitudes toward us.
Let’s see what we can learn today from the example of Jesus about attitudes that contribute to right relationships.
1. An Attitude Of Selflessness - vs. 3; 6
In reaching out to you and me, Jesus did not focus on Himself, but on us. Likewise, if you or I am going to develop the kinds of relationships with others that we desire, we must not allow our focus to be on ourselves, but on the person to whom we are seeking to build a
meaningful relationship with.
When Jesus came to this world, He came with the desire to bring fulfillment into our lives (John 10:10). The Bible tells us that God Himself, finds fulfillment in seeing those who have entered into a eternal friendship with Him find fulfillment (Ephesians 1:23)!
The same is true of each of us in our relationships with one another. It is only as I focus on the fulfillment of my wife, my kids, my fellow church members, my friends, my co-workers, etc., that I will find true fulfillment in my relationships with them. Isn’t this what Jesus taught?
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back - given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”- Luke 6:37-38 (The Message)
2. An Attitude Of Service - vs. 4; 7
A servant is one who seeks to meet the need of another. That is what Jesus did when He came to this world. He came to meet our need for forgiveness, for salvation, for a life changing relationship with God. In so doing, He demonstrated his love for each one of us.
Likewise, in our relationships with one another, we must be willing to take upon ourselves the very nature of a servant, and seek to meet the needs of those we are endeavoring to rightly relate to.
“Servanthood is not difficult to define; it is only difficult to achieve.” - Dr. John Maxwell
How might we go from a definition of service to doing service? Here are some thoughts:
A. Listen to discover the needs of your friend.
In the late 70’s & early 80’s, Paine Webber used an advertising campaign emphasizing their ability to listen to their client’s needs and custom-design an investment package for each one. You may remember the ads: “How did Your broker know you wanted to retire early?” “He ASKED.” They were selling the idea that their representatives listen. Compare the success of this campaign with that of E.F. Hutton. Everyone remembers “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” Investors, however, weren’t impressed. Today, E.F. Hutton is no longer in business. Paine-Webber realized that investors want to invest in a company with a reputation for
listening, rather than one with a reputation for talking.
Our relationships with others will only endure as we take the time to listen to our friends in the effort to discover what their needs are.
“A friend is one who asks how you are doing and then waits to hear your answer!” - Anonymous
B. Learn how to communicate love to your friend.
According to Gary Chapman, in his book, The Five Love Languages, there are five primary ways by which people seek to express love to others:
1) Through personal gifts;
2) Through physical touch;
3) Through practical service;
4) Through positive words; &
5) Through priority time.
Which one of these, or what combination of these expressions of affection best communicates love and concern to your friend? Note: we must seek to communicate affection in a way that is meaningful to them, not necessarily to us!
Notice that Jesus employed each of these in communicating His love for you and me. He has provided us with the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23)! He came to this earth to make the intangible God tangible (1 John 1:1; John 14:9)! He came to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45)! He spoke words of life (John 6:63)! And Jesus promises that He will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5) and that we will spend eternity with Him (John 14:3)!