Summary: How to have healthy relationships and to love others as God loves
Keys to Healthy Relationships
Main Point: To love at Christ’s commands on how we can have healthy and strong relationships with others.
Late one summer evening in Broken Bow, Nebraska, a weary truck driver pulled his rig into an all-night truck stop. The waitress had just served him when three tough looking, leather jacketed motorcyclist- of the Hell’s Angels type- decided to give him a hard time. Not only did they verbally abuse him, one grabbed the hamburger off his plate, another took a handful of his french fries, and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it.
How do you think he responded? He calmly brose, picked up the check, walked to the front of the room, put the check and his money on the cash register, and went out the door. The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away into the night.
When she returned, one of the bikers said to her, “Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?” She replied, “I don’t know abou that, but he sure ain’t much of a truck driver. He just ran over three motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot.”
(Illustration from a sermon by Erik Estep, "Am I Really Supposed to Love My Enemies)
Many of us may understand how this truck driver feels. It is hard to be nice to some people. The gospel teaches us that I have a obligation to every person, not just to the people who are nice. We will look at today a passage where Jesus instructs his disciples on how to have a healthy relationship God’s way. (Read Scripture)
I. Principle One: We have a responsibility to love one another. This isn’t a wish, but it is a command from Christ Himself. He tells us in John 15:12 “Love each other as I have loved you.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t just mean that we love those we like. We will all have people we naturally get along with better. Christ’s command is that we love our enemies. We are to follow the example of our Lord who was loving to those who were unkind and hateful to him.
I want to say that it is impossible for you to obey this command apart from Christ’s power in you. If you remember the first and most important commandment in scripture is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. It is this love relationship with the Lord that empowers us to love other people. The equipping comes from making the Lord the Lord of your life. Your power to obey the Lord comes from your love relationship with the Lord. When I begin to love the Lord completely, then I will begin to see people the way that God sees them.
There is a battle that goes on with each Christian between the old sinful nature and the Holy Spirit residing in you. The old nature doesn’t understand the kind of love that these verses call upon. The world knows about a selfish or eros love. It knows about love is a superficial way. But, when I begin to experience God, I begin to experience a agape love. I begin to realize that God loves people who don’t love him. As I submit my life and heart to the Lord, He can grow this kind of agape love in your heart for other people.
In one of my seminary classes, a professor once said, “We have a responsiblity to treat others redemptively.” This means I am to treat others with the same kind of grace that God treats me with. If you remember we defined grace as “undeserved or unmerited favor”. The rule that should guide all of my behavior to others is here in vs.31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Do you want people to gossip about you? No. Do you want people to be rude to you? No. Then don’t treat others that way.
This can be especially hard when we feel like we have been cheated or hurt by someone else. I remember when I stopped at a brake repair place two hours before a job interview. I told the man that I was in a hurry and had a interview in two hours. We talked about where the job was and how long it would take me to get there. Two hours later the pickup was just coming down from having new brakes put on. I felt like that man deliberately went slow to keep me from getting there on time. It was all I could do to be civil to the man. I felt like it was a deliberate cruelty to me. But, we should be careful here about the words we use when we are mad. This guy at the brake shop was most likely lost. He knew I was a Christian. I had my Bible and a commentary with me in the waiting room. What kind of witness would I have been if I had just gone off on the guy? He is someone who Christ died for also. God loves him also.