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Summary: Do you want to find joy in your relationships? It starts when you open up your heart to receive God’s love for yourself. Then, in the context of that grace and love, feel the same; think the same; and do the same, promoting others above yourself.

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A couple had been married for 60 years, and throughout their life they had shared everything. They loved each other deeply. They had not kept any secrets from one another, except for a small shoe box that the wife kept in the top shelf of her closet. When they got married, she put the box there and asked her husband never to look inside of it and never to ask questions about its contents.

For 60 years the man honored his wife's request. In fact, he forgot about the box until a day when his wife grew gravely ill, and the doctors were sure she had no way of recovering. So the man, putting his wife's affairs into order, remembered that box in the top of her closet, got it down, and brought it to her at the hospital. He asked her if perhaps now they might be able to open it. She agreed. They opened the box, and inside were two crocheted dolls and a roll of money that totaled $95,000. The man was astonished.

The woman told her husband that the day before they were married, her grandmother told her that if she and her husband were ever to get into an argument with one another, they should work hard to reconcile, and if they were unable to reconcile, she should simply keep her mouth shut and crochet a doll. The man was touched by this, because there were only two crocheted dolls in the box. He was amazed that over 60 years of marriage, they apparently had had only two conversations that they were unable to reconcile. Tears came to his eyes, and he grew even more deeply in love with this woman. Then he asked about the roll of money. "What's with this?" he asked. His wife said, "Well, every time I crocheted a doll, I sold it to a local craft fair for five dollars." (David Daniels, from his sermon “Mediation", www.PreachingToday.com)

I suppose that couple found a way to remain happily in love for 60 years, but I’m not sure that was the best way.

So what is the best way? What is the best way to find joy in all of our relationships, not only in the family, but also in the family of God? What is the true secret to a joyful fellowship, a joyful sharing of our lives together? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Philippians 2, Philippians 2, where we find that secret.

Philippians 2:1-2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (ESV)

The secret to a joyful sharing of our lives together begins with love. It starts with encouragement, comfort, participation, affection and sympathy (vs.1 says). Do you see what Paul is doing here? He is piling up 5 different synonyms for love, to make the point that our joyful fellowship begins with true love from God Himself.

Did you see where the encouragement is? It’s “in Christ.” Did you see where the participation is? It’s “in the Spirit.” We’re not talking about human love here. We’re talking about the kind of love that comes from God Himself. So if you want to find joy in your relationships, you must first of all…

RECEIVE GOD’S LOVE.

You must accept our Lord’s great compassion for you. You must let His deep affection grip your heart.

Just a few years ago (2013), the TV show Parenthood focused on Joel and Julia Graham's attempt to adopt a young Hispanic boy named Victor. After living with the Graham family for a while, Victor starts to open his heart, but then he suddenly draws back again. He refuses to eat meals with the family, fights with his future sister, and expresses direct hatred to Julia, his future mother.

Julia is afraid that Victor will never return her love and she begins to doubt the decision to finalize the adoption. At one point she tells her brother Crosby: “We've had all this time together, and it just doesn't seem like we're progressing… He just doesn't like me. At this point, it's so hard to know that that's gonna change… [maybe] I shouldn't be his mom.”

Then later in the show Julia tells Victor, “[We're] going to choose a date next week to finalize your adoption. You know what that means?”

“Not really,” Victor replies.

Julia says, “That means we're gonna go to court, all of us together, and we're gonna stand in front of a judge and we will promise to take care of you. And we'll probably sign some papers and we'll be your mom and dad from now on. Does that sound good to you?”

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