Categories: Pastor Dave's eNote
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
Our loving generously series is coming to a close. We have been talking about what it means to be devoted to one another. We have been thinking about what it means for God to invite us to leave our relational comfort zone and experience a deeper, richer form of community. I have also used the opportunity to help us examine how we can better relate as husbands, wives, parents and children. Below are some things I said in the first three sermons about relationships and how we can love more generously.
In week one, we looked at how power is a part of every relationship. In Jesus’ day people of power used their power to exclude and control. To love generously means that we use our power to surrender and serve. This has huge implications for our relational life. Here is part of what I said in week one…
“The push me, pull me, conflicts that dominate so many marriages are rooted power struggles that lurk beneath the surface of the home’s relational life. Sometimes at the root of the “financial crisis,” or the “intimacy conflicts,” or “parenting differences” there is a struggle for power. The surface tensions point to deeper trouble below the surface. One person pushes their agenda and the other person lashes out, or withdraws, or rebels in some way. Then the other person reacts. They get upset and they assert their authority in the marriage by wielding more power. The initial issue is lost and the struggle for control comes to the forefront. It happens between husbands and wives, between children and their parents and even between siblings.”
“In a Christian home, Jesus is not just the name of a religious figure. He is the Lord of the home. In the Christian home it is His way, His will, His mission, His truth that is asserting its power in the home. From time to time we all need to step back and reflect upon our use of power. Do we use our power to assert our will, or are we using it to surrender to His.” We all have power. The question before us is – are we using that power to love generously? Loving generously means that at times, even when we don’t want to, we surrender our power to Christ and serve one another.”
In the second sermon of the series, “Not for Sale,” we considered the effect of materialism and consumerism on our hearts. What affects our hearts effects our relational life. King David wrote, “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them.” Psalm 115:15-18
Here is what I shared in week two…
“When we fall in love with the things of the world those things change our hearts. So often our relational problems are not “relational” at all. Sometimes couples, families and individuals will spend all sorts of money on therapy; or invest time in books and workshops to fix the “relationship.” These things can be beneficial in helping people examine the way they relate, communicate and act. However, sometimes all the therapy in the world doesn’t bring positive change. Why is that? The problem is not “relational” but “spiritual.” When a love for things has a hold on our hearts we cannot see, hear or understand one another. The problem is an attachment problem. Sometimes the heart is so attached to the things of the world that it cannot attach to anyone else. As people of faith, our devotion must first and foremost be to God. When our hearts belong to God, God gives us a capacity to love others in extraordinary ways. Loving generously means we guard our hearts against a love of things so that they can be open to a love of God and people.”
The third week we looked at Kindness. Loving generously means that we “see” God differently. In Matthew 25 Jesus shares the parable of “The Sheep and the Goats.” In the story, people encounter a hungry thirsty, outsider, naked, sick and imprisoned people. One group (the sheep), show compassion while the other group (the goats) withhold kindness. Both groups failed to see the face of God in the midst of those in need. Loving generously calls us see God’s provision for us in the midst of those in need. Since our God has provided for us we can provide for others. This is what I shared in services…
“Sometimes the hardest place to be kind is in our own homes. The reason is, we often resort to manipulation, to withholding, to insult as a way to change patterns and behaviors. It doesn’t work. Loving generously means that in the midst of the tension we need to stop looking at the other person and look in the mirror. Sometimes the real tension isn’t between us and someone else, but between two sides of ourselves at war. The real tension is between who we are, and who God has called us to be. When we look for the face of God in the face of others, what is often revealed is our own need for grace and patience and love. This is what it means to love generously. It means that we search for God’s face in the face of those who love and it brings us to a moment of humility and confession.”
This Sunday, we will wrap up the series on “Loving Generously.” I am sharing the relationship insights from the last few weeks, so our conversation will be continued on Sunday. Until then, let’s all agree to reflect upon our use of power, our relationship with the things of the world, and our opportunity to extend the kindness that God has already shown to us.
David L. Davis