JOHN SHIRK – In our Relationship-Building Principles, we are examining some of the ways Jesus’ followers can be effective witnesses for the Gospel.
One way is to take the direct approach.
We see that in a number of places in the book of Acts. On the day of Pentecost, Peter gave a sermon where he talked about Jesus, and what He had accomplished when He was on the earth-how He died on a cross, rose from the dead, and was exalted at the right hand of God.
The people asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 3,000 people were added to the church that day.
On another occasion, a desperate jailer asked Paul and Silas, “what must I do to be saved?” Paul’s response was direct: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household.” That man came to believe in God and was filled with joy.
When someone asks how they can be saved, that is a good time to explain that Jesus is the answer.
Taking the direct approach of sharing the Gospel is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK -Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from John 17, verses 15 through 18.
Jesus said to His Heavenly Father, regarding His followers, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”
One of the perplexing questions that Christians face is “what does it mean to be in the world, but not of it?”
We are not called to be isolated from our culture, but to be engaged in it.
We are not called to compromise godly standards, but to uphold them in our witness for Jesus.
After Jesus said this prayer, His followers engaged culture and became influences for the Gospel. God can work through us to share the good news of God’s love with the world.
Engaging this world with the Gospel is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 13:5.
Love “is not easily angered.”
God’s love serves to temper our anger when patience is tested. We are not prone to emotional outbursts when guided by God’s love.
That is not to say that we are never angered. Jesus vented His anger when He saw God’s house of worship turned into a den of robbers. There are some injustices in this world that should upset us to the point of doing something about it.
However, when we are motivated by love, we are not easily angered or easily offended when someone disappoints us. We stay calm and cool. If there are differences to work out, love compels us to use conversations rather than shouting matches to address them. James 1:19 instructs us to “be slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Being slow to become angry is a relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 13:5.
“Love is not self-seeking.”
Sin is an “I” centered word. So is Pride. Selfish desires get in the way of thriving relationships.
The focus of true love goes beyond ourselves. In the context of our relationship with God, the focus is on bringing glory to God. In the context of our relationship with others, the focus is on blessing them with encouragement, a servant’s heart, and edifying words.
Joy can be an acronym for “Jesus, Others, Yourself”. With those priorities in that order, the door is open for us to experience the joy of living out the Gospel.
Focusing beyond ourselves is a relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 13:4.
“Love is patient, love is kind.”
With love, we recognize that people are in process. They have room for growing in maturity and character development, just as we have room for growth in these areas. With patience, we give our friends and neighbors time and opportunity to grow. We work with them so that they might develop into the kind of person that God calls them to be. Jesus is our ultimate example of patience. Mark 16 says that as the disciples went out and preached the Gospel, the Lord worked with them. He was working with men who had room for growth.
With love, we also exercise kindness. This means that we have a friendly disposition in our relationships. We show consideration for the needs of others, and seek to be a blessing in their lives. There is great influence in kindness. Romans 2:4 talks about God’s kindness leading us toward repentance. Lives can change in dramatic ways when kindness is expressed in our relationships.
Patience and kindness are qualities that benefit our marriages, family relationships, and friendships.
Exercising patience and kindness is a relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Micah 6:8.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Following this good path will guide us into relationships that bring honor to God.
To act justly means that we treat people with fairness and without partiality. We speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. We stand for the truth and refuse to be influenced by bribes. Acting justly flows out of a commitment to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
Loving mercy means that it gives us great delight to offer a helping hand to those in needy places, like the Good Samaritan who aided a man on the side of the road beaten by robbers. Loving mercy also means being gracious and patient with people who have stumbled into sin. The love of Jesus fills us with compassion for the condition of their soul.
Walking humbly with God means that we acknowledge the authority of Jesus over us and follow Him day-by-day, step by step.
Doing what is good in the eyes of the Lord is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from James 4:1.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”
Resolving conflict can be a messy, uncomfortable process. It requires examining where the relationship has gone sour, so that amends can be made and reconciliation might take place.
James is addressing conflict in the church, and is confronting the selfish tendencies of those who quarrel and fight. Addressing problems is not a negative perspective, as long as we are committed to seeking solutions. When we are embroiled in conflicts, we can find insight in the writings of James. We can ask ourselves if our own selfish tendencies are contributing to the conflict. Is pride keeping me from accepting responsibility for my actions? Is there anything that I need to say or do to make amends for the hurt that I have caused?
James discusses the causes of conflict, and then offers solution for getting relationships back on track, and it’s found in James 4:7 and 8.
“Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
Submitting ourselves to God with humility is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK -Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Proverbs 14:22.
“Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.”
Plans indicate our intentions to act. This verse is referring to the principle of sowing and reaping.
If we sow evil plans, we will stray off course from God’s intended will for our lives, and the outcome leads to confusion, dissension, and pain. Someone gets hurt when evil plans are carried out. If our plans are evil, God’s remedy is for us to turn back before we carry out those plans.
If the Lord directs our plans, those plans will be consistent with love and faithfulness, and good fruit will flow out of our actions. A generous person who refreshes others will be refreshed. What we send out is often what comes back. Those who plan what is good open the door for thriving relationships and for the name of the Lord to be honored.
Making plans that are good in the eyes of the Lord is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Psalm 63, verses 1 through 3.
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”
This is a Psalm of David, whom God described as a man after His own heart. In times of emptiness, it is a human tendency to seek fulfillment in the things of this world. In our thirst, we reach for water, which satisfies our physical thirst for a period of time, until we get thirsty again. The things of this world may satisfy our longings briefly, but not forever. Jesus told the woman at the well, that there was water that could permanently satisfy the longings of her soul, and that water is His grace.
In times of emptiness, David would seek satisfaction in the love of God; God would be glorified in David’s life.
An earnest search for God with our soul is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – God’s people are called to live in community. The evidence of that can be found in the “One another” statements of the Bible. This week’s relationship-building principles have been taking a look at some of these “one another” statements to better understand how God wants us to relate with other members of God’s family.
First John 3:11 says, “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”
Love is at the heart of the “one another” commands in the Bible. These specific commands scattered throughout the New Testament include: “Encourage one another, serve one another, forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another, accept one another as Christ accepted you, spur one another on toward love and good deeds, honor one another above yourselves, live in harmony with one another, offer hospitality to one another without grumbling, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, instruct one another. Be kind and compassionate to one another.
These specific “one another” statements are useful to help us examine whether or not we are walking in love as God calls us to love.
Loving God’s family with a godly attitude is a vital relationship-building principles to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
God’s people are called to live in community. The evidence of that can be found in the “One another” statements of the Bible. This week’s relationship-building principles take a look at some of these “one another” statements to better understand how God wants us to relate with other members of God’s family.
Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Hebrews 13:1.
“Keep on loving one other as brothers and sisters.”
The command to love one another is given at least 12 times in the New International Version of the Bible. Here, the emphasis on love is to be consistent in expressing love for God’s people as family members. Sometimes, family members have conflict, but when the love of God is our guiding influence, these conflicts are opportunities to grow more mature personally, and grow closer in community.
Every new day is an opportunity to connect with a person in our church community and show them the love of Jesus. It could be through a phone conversation, a visit to the hospital, or a service opportunity. As long as we are serving the Lord, we will hear the Holy Spirit whisper in our conscience that there is more love to share with others. Romans 13:8 says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
Persistent love for others is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.