Summary: Our life is all about relationships and the Word of God teaches us how to handle these relationships. This is the 1st of a series of messages on the topic, 'Building Relationships that Last.'
# 1 Love God Love People
If we think about it, human life is all about relationships, which begin at birth and ends only when we die. This is so because that is how God created us - to be in relationship with Him and with one another. Some of these relationships are those between husbands and wives, parents and children, siblings, relatives, friends, neighbors, classmates, teachers and students, employers and employees, customers and vendors so on and so forth. Instead of focusing on just one relationship, I would like to share some fundamentals based on the bible that would be applicable to every relationship.
Relationships are God-ordained
Relationships are as old as creation itself and began when God created Adam and Eve. God made them husband and wife and then blessed them with children. Adam and Eve had this unique privilege of communing with God, and with each other. The Serpent in a subtle way entered into this beautiful relationship and messed it up big time. When sin entered, not only did it tarnish man’s relationship with God, it also marred the relationship between people.
God gave the guidelines
In this fallen state, as people grew and multiplied, the problems in relationships among people also increase greatly. This eventually became an enormous challenge for Moses, who led the people of Israel across the wilderness for forty years. The issues that the people faced were numerous, and it became impossible for Moses or the leaders to handle them. It was at this point that God called Moses and handed him laws to help guide these people. These laws were broadly categorized into three main sections. The Ceremonial laws, Civil laws, and Moral laws, which included the Ten Commandments. It was the love of God that was operational behind these laws, to enable people to live in love and harmony. Sadly, over a period of time, the people missed the point and got so engrossed in the nitty-gritty, that they forgot the true purpose of these laws.
The Greatest Commandments
However, when Jesus came down to earth, He established the New Covenant and took these laws to a much higher level. To the Pharisees who conspired against Him, and wanted to trap Him, Jesus summed up the entire law with this most confounding reply. Here’s the question that Jesus was asked by a lawyer among them, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Matthew 22:36 (NKJV). Listen to Jesus’ astounding reply as found in Matthew 22:37-40, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (NLT)
The fundamentals for strong relationships
Jesus was establishing two fundamental truths by His reply. The first one is the fact that as those created in the image of God, our relationship with God must be the foundation on which all other relationships are built. This relationship with God is a love-relationship, wherein we love God with our whole being. The second part of this commandment is that we have a responsibility to love others the way we love ourselves. If we were to say it simply, these are two sides of the same coin. Oftentimes, we try to set right earthly relationships, not realizing that if we do not have the right love relationship with God, it just won’t work.
This can be a little tricky because there are those who are content with having the right relationship with God but care nothing for others. So also there is another group who are keen to love others and don’t care much about their relationship with God. The first one will make us a recluse, while the second alone will make us an altruist.
Loving God means to obey His commandments
When we love God the way we should, we will also keep His commandments. Jesus said it so aptly in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (ESV) To obey God’s commandments means we will walk as God desires for us to, and will therefore reflect His attributes in all our relationships. We, as children of God, have also been given the Holy Spirit of God to live inside of us. If this is so, then the fruit of the Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law,” (ESV) will be evident in our lives.
Share God’s love with others
Once we love God the way we should, the next step is for us to extend this love that we have received from Him to those around us. This love that we are to share with others should be as profound as the love we have for ourselves. This is not a love that puts us down, but one that respects and treats others the way we would like to be treated.