Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘relationships’

Nobody’s Gettin’ Enough

This blog is the ninth in a series on relationship rescue.  We’re looking for the most powerful New Testament principles for healthy relationships. Pastor Tim’s Top Ten:

According to John Maxwell, “Man does not live by bread alone.  Sometimes he needs a little buttering up.”  We’re not talking about flattery here.  We’re talking about encouragement.  Everybody needs it- including your friends and loved ones.

#8: Thou shalt catch others in the act of doing something good. (And tell them!)

Encouragement is so rare that almost no one gets enough.  Not long ago, a rugged male friend of mine lost a lot of weight.  It not only changed his appearance, but it changed the way he felt and acted.  He was even more energetic, more positive.  The first time I mentioned how great he looked, his face broke into a big smile.  “I’ve lost 20 pounds,” he commented.  “You’re the first person who’s noticed!”

My friend has always been healthy, successful and athletic.  I’m guessing nobody bothered to comment because they figured he’s so together that he doesn’t need a good word.  In fact, everybody needs encouragement and we need it a lot.  It’s so important that God’s Word reminds us to be intentional.

Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

In our self-centered, therapeutic culture, many of us have assumed that the mark of true friendship is someone’s willingness to listen to all my sorrows, anxieties and frustrations.  Maybe, but most people aren’t really looking for a friend because they enjoy depressing conversations.  Most people want friends because the people we love can add value to our lives.  They hang with us.  They laugh with us.  They understand us.  And if I’m one of those really lucky individuals, they notice when I do things right, and let me know.

Want to build more positive friendships?  Practice this simple trick for two weeks and you’ll be amazed at the results.  Be intentional about listening.  Hone in on some things your friends are doing right.  Or take note of some strengths and personal talents.  Then be deliberate in telling the people you love some of the reasons why you love them.  Encourage them to keep on doing the things they do so well.  You’ll become a more attractive person, and you’ll be handing out a prescription everybody needs.

Lift up the Cross!

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The Playmate of the Month

This blog is second in a series dealing with Relationship Rescue.  What are the most basic biblical principles for healthy rapport with other human beings?

Last week I suggested there’s a lot our lonely, isolated world could learn from the Church about relationships.  I really think most people would like to know more about healthy family ties and friendships, but the saints don’t seem to be teaching anything useful these days.  Too often, our efforts at  building and maintaining bonds of love are just about as unbiblical and ungodly as those of our unbelieving neighbors.

So I’ve set out to identify the Ten Commandments of Relationship.  Maybe you’ve been pondering and flipping pages in the Bible and looking for your top ten principles.  Great!  Feel free to share your own or comment on mine.  Anyway, here goes something…!

#1: Thou shalt love your friends the way Jesus of Nazareth loved his.  Check out John 13:34.  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Jesus loved his friends by spending time with them, by patiently bearing with them when they misunderstood him or disappointed him, and by adding value to their lives.  The original disciples were never just a backdrop for Christ’s passion play.  He included them in the drama, loved them in spite of their failures, forgave them when they behaved stupidly, and equipped them to become leaders in his movement.

It’s painfully obvious that too many church people don’t really want friends.  We want classmates and playmates.  “Classmates” sit in Sunday School with us week after week, talking about esoteric, spiritual factoids without ever saying anything remotely personal.  Then we drive away from church to fraternize with co-workers and relatives.  Likewise,  “playmates” are expected to entertain us but never confront us, challenge us, or differ with us.  When a playmate stops being amusing, it’s time to shaft that lump of coal and find a more attractive gem.  Triva Question: Did Hugh Hefner really dream up the Playmate of the Month, or did the original concept erupt among fully clothed Baptists who couldn’t keep a friend for more than 30 days?

Jesus loved his friends enough to gently challenge them when they were mistaken.  They argued endlessly about who was closest to Jesus.  They insisted he should make personal safety a high priority.  His most powerful ideas eluded them and his most provocative statements sailed right over their heads.  Truly, they were not worthy of him.  But Jesus loved them tirelessly and cultivated good things within them.

We never did take our WWJD bracelets seriously, did we?  When Christian friends flounder and fumble and fail us, we assume the options are extremely limited.  Option A: Change friends.  Option B:  Change churches.  Historically, Jesus always looked for a different option; something more loving and less self-centered.  He seemed to prefer Option C: Love always hopes; always protects.  Love never fails.

Lift up the Cross!

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