We were created to be in relationship with God and one another. We have lots of opportunities to work on our social skills. We interact with strangers on the internet, people standing in line with us at the grocery store, co-workers, church members, friends, family etc…. And most of us are pretty good at being polite and courteous to someone.
Some relationships are good and some not so good. Some last a few seconds on the highway and others a lifetime.
There are people in our lives it would be hard to live without and others we’d pay to move. Relationships can be good, bad, scary, wonderful or just okay.
Even at church or perhaps especially at church relationships aren’t always easy. Some people are difficult. Sometimes we’re difficult. Sometimes are difficult. It isn’t easy to be nice to everyone all the time without a magical potion to turn every encounter into a positive, healthy interaction.
Love is that key ingredient to a healthy relationship.
- Relationships built on love grow security, tenderness, trust, hope and happiness. Describe the healthy relationships in your life.
- And relationships fall short in the absence of love; they become a breeding ground for anger, resentment, fear and distrust. What relationships would you like to improve? Are some of them also your most healthy relationships?
Love doesn’t come naturally to anyone but God. Many learn how to love in a loving nurturing environment but others aren’t as fortunate.
Thankfully God wrote a guide book to teach us how to receive and give love. The commandments provide ten basic lessons about how to “be nice.” Most of them are like the rules we learned to get along with others on the playground – be kind, honest, listen, ask first and be gentle. But like every Confirmation student and “expert of the law” we want clarification. We may genuinely love God and want to keep the commandments but it is difficult to obey the law at all times, in all places with all people.
Many complain there are too many “do not’s”.
So Jesus came to earth to show us how to love God, Himself and others. He gave us many examples of how to put love in action.
Read The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:34-40
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Love is the one word summary of all the commandments and laws given by God to teach us how to share with others the love God has for us (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5).
“Love does no harm to its neighbors. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10
And God’s Word further defines over and over again what love is and what love isn’t. God tells us what he wants and what we shouldn’t do.
Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but
(love) rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
- What is love and what does it do?
- What doesn’t love do?
Circle the love statements and cross out the statements that are not loving:
|You are smart.||He is an idiot.|
|I only tease people I love.||I’m sorry.|
|I mowed the lawn.||You always forget…|
|I look forward to seeing you.||Goodbye.|
Which statements could be both?
They come because they feel trapped in a field of dysfunctional relationships, lonely, unloved and abandoned by God in a bunch of weeds. They want something different. They seek love.
How can anyone love their neighbor if they don’t feel loved?
It wouldn’t matter if God called the commandments the “10 Keys to Love” or the “10 Secrets to a Happily Ever After” because the equation doesn’t work when any part of the equation is neglected or equals zero.
We can’t give what we don’t have.
So over the next six weeks we will fill up all three parts of God’s love formula by following Jesus’ example of building healthy relationships through:
- Conflict, Confession and Forgiveness
- Healthy farewells
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love __(Name or Relationship)_ as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 (NIV)
Lord of Mercy, you know me, you know where I’ve been, where I’m going, who I’ve loved and who loves me. I deeply believe you have a plan for me. You don’t want me to be afraid, you don’t want me to be lonely and you designed me to be in relationship with you and everyone you bring into my life. Please Lord come and be with me. Help me to be kinder and gentler with you, myself and others. Bring unity to my heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Homework: Luke 10:27 is a challenge to everyone. Some of us have a wonderful close personal relationship with Christ but perhaps struggle with an abusive past. We may find it easy to be kind to strangers but neglect our family. We may be wrestling with God over hardships or simply just starting to know God. And most of us neglect ourselves. Is it harder for you to love yourself, God or others?
Over the next week make an honest assessment of how much time you spend with each and make a note of any unhealthy attitudes, beliefs or habits (sin) blocking your relationships. Read 1 Corinthians 13.