Summary: A Biblical view of the elements involved in establishing and maintaining loving relationships.
RELATIONSHIPS THAT LAST
Philemon Entire Chapter
I want to share today about the sort of relationship Paul must have had withPhilemon. A relationship that enabled him to be able to confidently ask such a costly response from him. A relationship based upon a lasting, loving and loyal friendship. A friendship that enabled Paul to place such absolute trust in him, without fear that Philemon would betray him or let him down. I want us to look at the sort of enduring bond that must have existed between these two fellow-laborers in the Word.
It seems that Paul had a special capacity to make and maintain close friends. Friends that would stick with him through thick and thin. Friends that did not make situations and circumstances the basis or test of their love and loyalty. Friends who did not falter in their faithfulness and fidelity no matter how frustrating the facts of life became. People who
were more than mere "fair weather friends."
Of course, there were others in his life that did not always fit this description. Demas evidently could have fairly been labeled a fair weather friend. Perhaps this could have even been said of John Mark for a period of time. But it is significant that even though John Mark seems to have let him down, a good and profitable relationship between the two was eventually restored.
Fair weather friends? I guess the quality of true friendship and the enduring strength of a real relationship can only be fully tested in the
test tube of troubles and trials. It would seem that the enduring strength of a relationship could only be completely revealed in the crucible of
crisis. It has been said, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." This should be especially true of the bond of true a tough Christian
friendship and relationship. It is in the lurch that the rubber of friendship really hits the road. I sometimes wonder if one of the reasons Jesus gave us the story of the prodigal son was to illustrate this simple truth. When the prodigal ran out of money and could no longer play the role of a "good time Charlie," his friends seem to have suddenly found more urgent and important business.
But it seems that the pattern of friendship and relationships in Paul’s life is more truly and clearly demonstrated by this story of two friends in
the Lord, his relationship to them and the new relationship he urged Philemon to forge with his brother in the Lord, Onesimus.
With this in mind, let us look at some of the principles we can find in the Word of God about how we may establish and maintain good and Godly relationships. Relationships based first of all upon our relationship to God and to each other in the Lord. These relationships might first include the most intimate relationship of marriage. There’s a special sort of friendship that should exist within the bonds of matrimony. These principles would certainly apply as well to our relationships with others in our immediate family. The same could be said of those in the local family of God, our church. The primary principles can also be extended to include those within the sphere of our everyday Christian responsibilities at work and play.
But what if you feel you have already failed in this area of relationships in the past? Perhaps your most cherished and treasured relationship has
already come shipwreck upon the rocks and shoals of marital disaster and dissolution Of some other tragic rupture or break of intimate friendship
and relationship has occurred and left you disillusioned and discouraged about the possibility of ever really having a long, lasting relationship
meaningful relationship in the future Perhaps you are aware that you really mucked things up. You had the ball in your hands and were headed for a try,
but you fumbled the ball and dropped it along the way.
We’re not looking at this subject today to judge the past or condemn anyone for failure. But with the awareness that we all can learn from our past,
especially if we apply the Word of God. We can analyze and correct our errors and mistakes. After all, it has been said that those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past or condemned to repeat them. Or that the only thing some people learn from history is that they do not learn from history.
Let me share with you five principles which lead to RELATIONSHIPS THAT LAST.
THE FIRST PRINCIPLE WE NEED TO LEARN FROM THE WORD OF GOD IS THAT TRUE FRIENDSHIP AND REAL AND LASTING RELATIONSHIPS ARE BASED ON REAL GODLY LOVE.
"A friend loveth at all times and a brother is born for adversity."
(Prov. 17:17) That means that we must sometimes love the unlovely. Real friends love the other person when they are not very lovable. This is especially true in marriage. We don’t have to always like what the other person does to continue to love them faithfully with the sort of love the Lord has for us. In fact, we are not necessarily required to like a brother or sister in Christ or like what they do, but we are REQUIRED TO LOVE THEM AT ALL TIMES. (John 13:34-35)