We are in a series about relationships called “Rip Up the List,” and today I’d like to conclude that series by talking about seven biblical truths about relationships.
1 Corinthians 1:10
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Here in 1 Corinthians, we see God’s desire for relationships that we be unified in mind and thought. Did you know you can be unified in mind but not unified in thought? What’s the difference between mind and thought? Well, if you have the mind of Christ you’ll have the thoughts of Christ. To allow the mind of Christ to prevail, we submit our own opinion and our own thoughts to Christ. You’ll know you have the mind of Christ when it contradicts the voice of the enemy.
Here are seven things we can glean from the Bible about relationships. Each one is a choice.
1. All conflict can produce intimacy or division. You choose.
My wife and I used to fight a lot. When we learned how to metabolize the fights into intimacy, our marriage was revitalized. The problem isn’t conflict – it’s what you do with it. The same argument can either produce intimacy or division. Conflict through the mind of Christ produces crucifixion. That crucifixion means dying to my agenda, my will, my way, which in turn produces resurrection. Conflict through a carnal mind produces division that produces death. If it’s my will vs. my wife’s will, we’re on our way to divorce. But if my wife and I fight for God’s will, our marriage is transformed and strong.
2. Forgiveness can be extended in the absence of an apology. You choose.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
The book of Ephesians is known for spiritual warfare, with strong imagery of swords and helmets and shields. But there’s a different type of warfare that exists in this book, as well. Kindness and compassion can dismantle and disarm in a way you never have before. Kindness allows you to see something about someone that cruelty never could. Kindness opens your eyes, while cruelty blinds you.
Forgiveness doesn’t have to wait until an apology is offered. Christians can forgive when nobody says they are sorry. That’s so liberating because that means you can be free even if the offending party never offers an apology! But you choose!
3. It takes more intelligence to be one who encourages than one who criticizes. You choose.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
People think that the most intelligent leaders are the most critical leaders. But it takes more intelligence to encourage than to criticize. Criticism addresses what’s obvious, but encouragement addresses hidden potential.
1 Corinthians 14:3
Those who prophesy speak to people, building them up, and giving them encouragement and comfort.
If you want to be a prophet, the tip of your tongue should be seasoned with love. Think about how God talks to you, and then talk to others accordingly. Our goal should be to love others with compassion. Prophesy flows from a place of encouragement. If you think you’re prophetic but you haven’t built anyone up, think twice.
In the middle of my sin, anyone could have seen the worst about me. But my wife looked at me and said “You are a man of God. You will plant churches” when I was the farthest from both. And here I am today. She built me up and my life is where it is according to her prophecy.
4. Assumptions can either be termites or worker ants. One erodes and destroys; the other builds and stores. You choose.
Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
Termites and ants are both insects, but one erodes and the other builds. One eats away and the other prepares. You can choose to be like the termites or the ants. You can build, work and prepare now, or you can eat and erode away. It’s your choice!
5. Forgiveness is commanded, but reconciliation is conditional. You choose.
The biggest question I get when I preach on relationships and reconciliation is “Do I stay?” There are people in ministry I have forgiven, but they operate in such a carnal, demonic paradigm that God doesn’t require me to maintain a relationship with them. Forgiveness and relationship are not synonymous. Reconciliation and relationship are synonymous.
Sometimes you must exit a relationship to remain in peace. Abraham and Lot had to part ways because they realized the land couldn’t support both of them. There are times that the only way you can have relationship is from a distance.
But if your brother wrongs you, go and have it out with him at once—just between the two of you. If he will listen to you, you have won him back as your brother. But if he will not listen to you, take one or two others with you so that everything that is said may have the support of two or three witnesses. And if he still won’t pay any attention, tell the matter to the church. And if he won’t even listen to the church then he must be to you just like a pagan—or a tax-collector!
Jesus provides a template here for how we approach someone who has sinned against us. We don’t go to our pastor, or our friend, or our connect group leader. We go to the person. You can have forgiveness, but it’s your choice.
6. You reflect what you expect. You’re mirroring what you’re fearing, or you’re reflecting what you’re expecting. You choose.
Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. Acts 3:5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.
7. You do not lose control in a relationship, you reap what your control produces. You choose.
1 John 5:14-15
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Check out our YouVersion plan “Rip Up the List: Renew Relationships” where Pastor Mike takes you on a 7-day journey through the seven phases of romantic relationships. Each day you will be challenged to rip up the list of failures and mistakes and pursue relationships that reflect God’s heart.
My Breakthrough Community is full of people just like you who are hungry for more of God. If you are interested in learning more, consider joining the Breakthrough Community!
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