Summary: Seven guidelines for healthy relationships.
God gives us so many reminders of His great love for us. Sometimes we miss these reminders, but here’s one we don’t have to miss. Last week, after a brief thunderstorm, one of our members caught a picture of a rainbow over our church building. We don’t believe there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; we see it as a reminder of God’s covenant that a flood will never destroy our planet again.
We’re going to talk about relationships in this message. Author J. Allan Petersen was a Christian author and speaker who wrote The Myth of the Greener Grass and several other good books. He traveled the world extensively teaching seminars on marriage and the family. He tells the story about boarding a Boeing 747 in Brazil one evening for a return trip to the U.S. He was just settling down to rest when the captain came on and announced they had a serious emergency. Three of the four engines had shut down because of fuel contamination, and the fourth engine was struggling. They were trying to turn back and land at the airport. The flight attendants sprang into action and told everyone to do exactly what they said. Allan said he had flown millions of miles, but this was the first time something like this had happened. They were instructed to close the shades on the windows, and assume a crash position bent over holding their legs. He said, that no one could tell how close they were to the ground and the flight attendants yelled, “Prepare for impact!”
Allan said everyone was praying, most of them in Portuguese. He found himself praying as well. He prayed, “God, thank you for allowing me to know you and to serve you. But oh, God, my wife! My sons. Please take care of them!”
Since he was writing about this scary event, obviously, they landed safely. As he reflected on his near-death experience, he realized he wasn’t even thinking about the broken photocopier or when he needed to change his oil. He was thinking of only one thing—relationships. Why? Because once you boil it down, relationships are the most important things we have in this life.
Paul is coming to the end of this wonderful letter. He concludes the long section on the second coming by telling them to encourage one another and build each other up. Then beginning in verse twelve he tells them how to build each other up. In this passage there are seven guidelines for healthy relationships.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-15. “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”
In 2001, we began the Tyler-Quijing partnership. It’s been a wonderful experience. Over the first few years of the partnership, the government leaders of the city welcomed us and met with us. It was important for us to learn how to behave in that culture, so we had everyone read a book on Chinese business etiquette.
For instance, in China, it is customary to exchange small gifts. So we tried to find gifts relating to Tyler or Texas. At the Tyler Rose Museum gift shop, we found some very nice paperweights that had a Tyler rose on the top. I noticed on the back that it said, “Made in China.” So we bought them, and took them BACK to China to give as gifts! We learned that the Chinese refuse a gift three times. So you have to keep asking them to please accept the gift. After the third offer, they accept the gift, but they set it aside and don’t open it until you’re gone. They don’t want the chance of you seeing disappointment in their face if they didn’t like the gift.
Meals are served at a round table with a large lazy Susan in the center. You only have a small plate, so you don’t load it up with food. As the lazy Susan spins slowly in front of you, you take your chopsticks and take only a small amount. The most interesting thing I learned is that it’s impolite to clean your plate. If you clean your plate, it indicates you’re still not satisfied. So you always have to leave some uneaten food on your plate. So, all those years that my parents told me to clean my plate because there were starving children in China, they were wrong. Those Chinese children weren’t even cleaning their plates!