Christianity and Relationships

God's Message on the Web - My earliest podcasts.

1 Timothy 5:1-8, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity. Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

If you expect me to talk about how to treat older men in this assembly, you will be disappointed. If you expect me to talk about how to treat younger men, older women, or younger women in this assembly, you will be disappointed. If you expect a discourse on widows indeed, you will be disappointed.

Has that not been a common approach to scripture in the past? Have we not been guilty of thinking we have “restored the true meaning of scripture” if we define the roles scripture mentions? A common premise has been: “If we supply the correct definitions, we by that determine proper applications.”

We can become so involved in details that we miss the passage’s focus. There were people in these groupings in the early church. However, determining today’s applications simply by knowing the identity of those groups produces invalid applications. For example, the focus is NOT on rebuking the right people by determining their age! Paul’s concern is not determined by accurately deciding what your category should be!

“What was Paul’s concern?” Paul’s concern: being a Christian expresses itself in respect for people. Relationships lie at the core of having proper faith in God. It is no exaggeration to declare that if we cannot treat people with respect, we cannot treat God with respect.

  1. I am amazed at how often we fail to make the obvious applications of Paul’s concern.
    1. If anyone should be blessed by Christian respect for people, it should be those who are closest to us.
      1. Because I have faith in God, my spouse should be blessed because of my faith in God.
      2. Because I have faith in God, my children should be blessed because of my faith in God.
      3. Because I have faith in God, my friends should be blessed because of my faith in God.
      4. Because I have faith in God, my daily associations should be blessed because of my faith in God.
      5. Because I have faith in God, those who trust Christ should be blessed because of my faith in God.
    2. The people closest to us should never be afraid of us because we have faith in God.
      1. Faith does not require me to hurt my spouse; it requires me to help my spouse.
        Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them (Colossians 3:18,19).
      2. Faith does not require me to abuse my children; it requires me to encourage my children
        Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart (Colossians 3:21).
      3. Faith does not require me to ignore my friends, but to be a source of guidance to my friends.
        Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
      4. Faith does not require me to pretend the people who associate with me daily are not there, but to be an encouraging example to them.
        As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful (James 5:10,11).
      5. Faith does not require me to make other Christians fearful of me, but to look to me as a source of kindness.
        Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:31,32).
      6. Faith in God blesses my relationships, it does not curse them.
      7. The blessing of my faith to my relationships constantly declares the benefits of belonging to the Lord.
  2. Somewhere in the past we transformed the basic concept of worship.
    1. First, we made worship the key expression of faith in God.
      1. If you doubt that statement, think of all the people who are convinced that being able to say, “I go to church every Sunday,” is the # 1 proof they have faith in God.
      2. Reflect on all the members of a congregation who are convinced they are saved if they are in the correct building at the correct time on the correct day.
      3. Think of all the families who are deeply relieved if a family member consents to baptism without any evidence of repentance.
    2. Second, we made worship about us instead of about God.
      1. We made the occasion of worship the occasion to prove we are “good people.”
        1. It is the occasion for proving we are correct as a person.
        2. It is the way of saying, “I do not need a visit from the preacher, the elders, or any other religious fanatics in the congregation.”
        3. It is the way to say, “I am okay, so look at me as being okay, and do not trouble yourself with me.”
        4. It is the accepted way to say, “I am religious! I do my spiritual duty! I am here! I give some money! I do not cause any trouble!”
        5. If we are not careful, worship is all about me, what I am proving about me, and how I want ‘the church’ to look at me.
      2. Worship at its core has never been about me and what I want to declare about me.
        1. At its core, worship always has been about God.
        2. It always has been a declaration of gratitude for what God has done and continues to do for me.
        3. It is a remembrance, a reminder of my indebtedness to God.
        4. want to be a spiritual person, not just a material person, and only God can help me achieve spirituality.
        5. It is an affirmation of my relationship with all those who place their confidence in God.
      3. Christian worship is an opportunity for three things.
        1. I gratefully remember what God has done for me, and honor Him for doing those things.
        2. I declare my appreciative commitment to God.
        3. I affirm my commitment to those who place their confidence in God.
        4. Knowing what God did and does for me in Christ is the vehicle for those three things happening.
  3. There are some situations we all should find deeply disturbing.
    1. I am disturbed by the number of Christians who neglect their spouses and still regard themselves as deeply spiritual people.
      1. I ask you to realize there are a number of Christians you know who think that the way they treat their husband or wife has nothing to do with being a spiritual person.
      2. Does being godly urge me to learn how to be a better husband or wife?
      3. Or, can I be a godly person and have little or no concern for my husband or wife?
    2. I am deeply concerned by people who think they can neglect or abuse their children and still be a deeply spiritual person.
      1. I am not talking about people who are trying and are constantly concerned.
      2. I am talking about people who do not care.
      3. They, at best, tolerate their children.
      4. To those people, loving God has nothing to do with loving their children.
    3. I am deeply concerned by people who think they can use people close to them without having any concern for those people.
      1. The people surrounding them are a means to an end, and this attitude has no affect on being godly. (Have you not heard people say, “Business is business and church is church,” as if the two are totally unrelated?)
      2. The philosophy of such people seems to be, “I will be nice to you as long as you are or may become useful to me, but once you lose that usefulness, get out of my way and leave me alone.”
      3. Amos used a device to provoke thinking that is still chilling!
        1. His device in Amos 1 and 2 is this phrase: “For three transgressions, and for four I will not revoke their punishment.”
        2. Amos used those words to declare what was wrong with Israel and Judah’s enemies.
          1. I can just hear Judah and Israel say, “Amen! Amen! I knew they were horrible people!”
          2. I can hear them say in glee, “Tell them! They deserve condemnation!”
        3. Then Amos used the same words to introduce the transgressions of Judah and then Israel.
          1. In the words of some people, Amos stopped preaching and started meddling.
          2. It is okay for me to know what is wrong with you, but I do not want you or anyone else to know what is wrong with me.
        4. In condemning Israel, Amos talks about their greed.
          1. They are so greedy that they lusted for the dust on the heads of the helpless people (Amos 2:7)
          2. They were so determined to have the property of the helpless that they resented the dirty hair of helpless people!
          3. Helplessness in people meant nothing–they just wanted their land.
  4. We are rapidly becoming a society addicted to disposable spirituality.
    1. Increasingly there are many things we no longer understand how to do.
      1. We are losing our ability to commit to people.
      2. We are losing our ability to sacrifice for people.
      3. We are losing our ability to be unselfish.
      4. With those losses are the loss of kindness, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, compassion, and mercy.
      5. Thus, when we do not know how to care for a relationship or find a relationship troubling, we throw the relationship away.
    2. Nowhere are these losses more evident than in our relationships with people closest to us–increasingly those relationships are disposable.
      1. If I am having trouble with my spouse, I get rid of him or her.
        1. I loved my spouse to pieces when I married–so much so I said I committed to my spouse for life.
        2. Now I hate my spouse more than I loved him or her at marriage–so much so I want to make my spouse’s life miserable by taking everything I can.
      2. If I am disappointed with my children, I try to pretend they are not mine.
        1. Before I had children, I joyfully anticipated the day I had a child.
        2. Now that I have children, I consider my children an anchor–my children are an obstacle to everything I want to be and everything I want to do.
      3. I am not suggesting each of these relationships do not involve complex demands and challenges.
      4. I am suggesting each of these relationships (and all other relationship) are a part of our Christian commitment.
    3. To me it is frightening to observe how many people today do not know how to be a husband, a wife, or a parent.
      1. They have not observed success in those relationships.
      2. They do not even know what a successful marriage or successful parenting is!
      3. People do not understand that you learn how to fill those roles, that success in those roles does not just happen.

Paul said the person who refuses to accept family responsibility in family relationships is worse than a person who does not even believe God exists and resurrected Jesus. Such a person denies that he or she is a person of faith.

May I issue a challenge to every Christian: see the opportunity! Do not wring your hands and decry how awful situations are! In Christ, be an example of commitment in your relationships. If a relationship is failing in your life, learn. If that relationship fails, do not make its failure the result of a lack of commitment and learning on your part. Commit! Show people that belonging to God is an asset to succeeding in relationships!

In nothing do we have a more relevant message in Christ than the message that God’s values can guide us to success in relationships!

David Chadwell

Author: Greg

Welcome to Gods Message on the web. My name is Greg and I want to welcome you. I started doing these Podcasts, MP3, and Audio Books back in 2007. Stay awhile and make yourself at home. The Christian Podcasts here are free and for everyone to enjoy. I’m doing a complete series on David Chadwell who is a retired minister from Fort Smith, Arkansas. I’ve also done an Audio Book for Wayne Jacobsen’s the Naked Church. Plus a series of MP3s for Pastor Billy Crone and his The Final Countdown series.

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