Tuesday, December 16, 2014

NTDS (38): The Key to Great Relationships

 Rom 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. NIV

In the twelfth chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul has been making the case that the church of Jesus Christ is just like a body. All parts of the body need to function properly for the body to work efficiently. In verses 6-8 he has described how each member of the body should use the gifts that God has given to serve the church as a whole.

In verse nine he begins to layout another very important concept. He starts by saying, “Love must be sincere.” (NIV) The NASS puts it in a more literal way. “Let love be without hypocrisy.” All of the rest of the instructions that Paul will give in this letter to the Romans, must be grounded by this anchor.

If this is the case, then we better make sure we understand what Paul is saying. The word that Paul uses here for love is important. It is agape in Greek and it is the same word that Paul uses in 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13. In that passage, Paul gives a very detailed description of what agape is and what it is not. Take a look.

1 Cor 13:4-7
 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (NIV) I think the easiest way to understand agape is this definition, “Love without expectation of anything in return.”

What Paul is saying then, is that the sincerity of our love for Christ, will be proven by our love for others. That love will be demonstrated by the above actions. You might say, “what if a person just acts in these ways but only out of a desire to look good, not out of pure motives?” Well, that would be hypocritical and not sincere, but look at this description again. Do you think that it is really possible to behave this way without sincere love for the Savior? Seems to me that it is difficult enough when you really do love the Lord to act this way.

In our highlighted verse, verse 10, Paul sums up agape this way, be devoted to one another and honor each other above ourselves. Not only is this a summary of agape type love, it is the key to having great relationships with people. Just think if all believers followed these simple rules, how much better we would be able to work together for the cause of Christ.

It is the foundation of all successful relationships. Marriage, family, friendship, business, you name it. Any relationship, where the people involved consider others needs and put them above their own, will thrive. Those relationships that are dominated by selfishness on the other hand, are doomed to failure. James says this, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.” James 4:1-2

If you would take some time to consider this statement, I think you would find that most relational difficulties stem from one or both parties focusing continually on their “needs” not being met by the other person. Paul tells to focus on just the opposite, always looking for opportunities to serve others. In today’s society, this is a hard sell. We are constantly bombarded with messages that tell us that we must take care of self first.

I would submit to you that sincere love for Jesus Christ, will result in loving others and putting their needs above your own. In turn, there is a great reward. When you honor others above yourself, you will find a joy that is unsurpassed! When you put this into practice, you will be amazed at how loving and serving others will become the passion of your life and how your relationship with others will flourish. I challenge you, to daily ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to carry out the instructions Paul gives here and then watch what He does. You will never regret it!

God bless you

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