Summary: One of the main differences between a person who is a Christian and one who is not is how we relate to other people, especially to other people who don’t like us, especially to people who mistreat us.
Open your Bibles, please, to Romans chapter 12. I’m just going to pick up where I left off, because most of you who have been around awhile know I preach the Bible verse after verse after verse. Here we are at Romans 12:14-16. I’ll remind you the book of Romans is divided into two parts. The first eleven chapters deal with doctrine, what we believe and who we are in Christ. But beginning in chapter 11 through the end of the book, it’s very practical. Instead of doctrine, it’s duty. Instead of what we believe, it’s how we’re to behave. Instead of who we are in Christ, it’s what we do because we are in Christ.
Sometimes people say the Bible is not very practical. I beg to disagree, because all of these principles are so very practical. They hit us right where we are. Today I want to talk to you about five laws for healthy relationships. When I say laws, I’m not talking about the Ten Commandments. I’m talking about principles, like the law of gravity. If you do one thing, something’s going to happen. In relating to other people, if you follow these principles, you will get along with people and you will have healthy relationships in your home, in the workplace and in the community.
What is it that makes you different, as a Christian, than somebody out there that’s not a Christian? The fact that when you die, you’re going to go to heaven? It ought to mean so much more than that. One of the main differences between a person who is a Christian and one who is not is how we relate to other people, especially to other people who don’t like us, especially to people who mistreat us.
Many of you remember Nikita Khrushchev. In the 1960s, he was sort of a spokesman for world Communism. When he came to America, he made this statement: “The difference between Christianity and Communism is great. When someone hits you, you turn the other cheek.” But, Khrushchev said, “If you hit me, I’ll hit you so hard; your head will fall off.”
Not only is that Communistic attitude, it’s the attitude of natural man. You hit me and, brother, you’re going to get it back. Look and see what the Bible says about how we ought to relate to people. Beginning in verse 14 of Romans 12. The Bible says, “Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Now, let’s look at these five laws of healthy relationships:
I. THE LAW OF ADVERSITY
I call the first one the “law of adversity.” How do you relate to someone when you’re in an adversarial relationship, when they are hostile toward you? I can summarize this law this way:
Be a blessing to those who hurt you
Yes, there are people out there who are going to hurt you. There are going to be people out there who treat you mean or who treat you with anger and hostility. The Bible says when they do that to you; you’re to be a blessing to them.
A little girl wrote the following letter to her pastor::
I heard you say to love our enemies. I am only 6 years old and I do not have any yet. I hope to have some when I am 7.
Chances are, you have a few enemies. If you haven’t, something’s wrong, because there are always going to be people out there who don’t care for the way you act or what you live or what you believe. In fact, this is sort of a preview for next Sunday’s message, because beginning in verse 17 and through the rest of the chapter, where we’ll be next Sunday, it really talks about how to kill your enemies with love. I’m calling it “How to Deal with Mean People.” So if you ever have to deal with mean people, the Bible tells you how to relate to them.
Basically verse 14 is telling us that when people hurt you, you bless them. Now notice there is a negative command and a positive command. The negative command is “don’t curse them.” Isn’t it human nature when somebody hurts you and somebody mistreats you, the first thing you want to do is just cuss them out, curse them? Sometimes people wonder what the Bible says about cursing. It says, “Do not curse people.” You see God is the only one who has the right and the authority to damn anyone. You don’t. I don’t. God is the only one who has the right and the authority to send someone to hell. You and I have no business telling anybody that they should go to hell.