Holistic part 5
How Does Faith Affect My Relationships
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 10, 2010



Holistic. If something is holistic, it is all-encompassing. It affects every area of life.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about having a holistic faith—one that is not just reserved for Sunday morning but on that is evident in our lives everyday and in every way.

For example, we’ve already talked about how a holistic faith affects our schedules. It means we’re going to make it a priority to be here on Sundays to honour and worship Him, but it also means that we’re going to spend time with Him daily in prayer and reading His Word. And even beyond that, we’re going to spend the rest of our time in ways that will be pleasing to Him and not embarrassing or degrading to Him.

We’ve also talked about how a holistic faith affects the way we manage money. If you are a Christ-follower, then you acknowledge that everything we have comes from God and rightfully belongs to Him. And so we’re going to manage it in the ways He has asked us to. That means we’re going to pay attention when He asks us to give Him back 10% of what we earn.

We call this a tithe, which means a tenth, and we give it through the Church in obedience and worship of God. And we do that for two primary reasons: because we love Jesus, and because we believe in the mission of the church. It’s not about meeting a budget; it’s about loving God and supporting His ministry. And so as we give to Him, we saying that we trust God to provide for our needs and that He is even more important to us than our finances, instead of the other way around.

But even beyond giving to God by tithing, we’re going to be financially responsible in other areas, too. The Bible has more to say about money than pretty much any other topic, and it’s packed full of wisdom for how to manage finances. It talks about being debt-free, about not wasting on destructive habits or on gambling, it talk about budgeting and planning ahead, about putting some aside for retirement or for rainy days, about earning a living through honest work, and about investing wisely and earning interest. You’d be surprised at just how much good advice the Bible has for you in the area of money.

We also talked about the dangers of becoming obsessed with money, and how our heart follows our treasure. We don’t invest in what we care about; we care about what we invest in. So put your money where you want your heart to be. If you want to grow spiritually, then put God first in your finances and your heart will follow. If you want to care about other people and be known as a generous person, then don’t wait for the feeling of generosity; start being generous and the feelings will follow.

Today, we’re going to move on and talk about how a holistic faith affects your relationships. We’re going to talk about three different areas of relationships that we have, and we’re going to have to move quickly to get through them. So let’s get going…


A Holistic Faith Will Be Evident In Your Relationships With…

1.    Your Family

How? How does your faith impact your family relationships? With your spouse… with your kids… even with your parents? Let me give you three principles for building a strong, healthy, God-honouring family. These are some general principles I’ll be giving you today; we’ll talk about some more hands-on ideas at another time. But the first priniciple is this…

•    Prioritize the Word of God within the context of your family.

Just like the Bible has a lot to say about money, it has a lot to say about marriage, about raising children, about the struggles families face, about reconciling broken relationships, about treating each other with dignity and respect… The apostle Paul wrote a lot about loving and respecting each other, about sacrificially giving of yourself for your family, about spouses being mutually submissive and deferential to each other… So as a family, look to the Bible and draw from it wisdom and guidance that can enhance and enrich your family relationships.

A suggestion I would make to you is this: Spend time with your spouse or with your family reading the Bible and talking about how it applies to your family. You can even get what are called family devotional books which have a short reading everyday to go along with a passage from the Bible. Just go down to Maritime Christian Bookstore on Hillsborough Street and ask to see their family devotional books.

Our son Nate, at two years old, is already carrying around a Bible picture book of his own, and he’ll bring it to us for us to read to him. And he’s got a bunch of other Bible story books that we read with him, too. And then we pray with him before every meal and then again at bedtime.

Deuteronomy 32:45-47 (NLT)
When Moses had finished reciting all these words to the people of Israel, he added: “Take to heart all the words of warning I have given you today. Pass them on as a command to your children so they will obey every word of these instructions. These instructions are not empty words—they are your life! By obeying them you will enjoy a long life in the land you will occupy when you cross the Jordan River.”

•    Make the spiritual growth of your family a priority.

Parents, let me ask you this: what do you communicate to your children through the way you spend your time and manage your money? Do they see that God is important to you, of does He just fit into your life when it’s convenient? When the busyness of life presses in, does God get pushed out? Or how about your speech? When tempers get short, do you strike out at each other? Do you say hurtful and destructive words? Or even those outside of the home… do you gossip about them, and backbite, and slander them? Or do you build them up? Part of growing spiritually means learning to control your tongue. So what does your language communicate about the role God plays in your life and in your family?

You need to make the spiritual growth of your family a priority, which means you need to be part of a community of believers on a regular basis and you need to be an example for your children. Even for your spouse, you need to show them that honouring God and growing to spiritual maturity is important to you.

What Paul wrote in Titus chapter two was not necessarily about setting an example for your children, but I think it applies…

Titus 2:7-8 (NLT)
And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.


•    Include God in your family decisions.

Taking a new job, moving to a new city, putting the kids in a new school, choosing between private school and public school… there are all kinds of decisions that families have to make; sometimes they’re big decisions and other times they’re relatively minor. Sometimes they’re easy, and sometimes they’re more difficult.

In my family, we have to make family decisions all the time… are we going to watch Toy Story for the 838th time, or are we going to watch Cars for the 237th time?

Okay, we don’t actually pray about decisions like that, and I don’t think we need to. God gave us the ability to think and to investigate and to make informed decisions, so most of the time I think He just tells us to go for it. I don’t really think He cares if we watch Buzz and Woody or if we watch Lightning McQueen.

Besides, the longer you walk with God and the closer you get to Him and the more you grow spiritually, the better you will become at sensing His guidance in your life anyway, in big and small ways.

However, there are certainly times when you need to gather as a family to make decisions, and when you do you should involve God in the conversation. Pray, seek His wisdom, and trust His guidance.

Galatians 5:25 (NLT)
Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Do you know what makes some decisions so difficult? It’s the unknown. You don’t know the outcome so you’re not sure what you should decide.

One of the joys of living outside of the city in York is that I often find myself driving behind farm equipment. I think that’s just part of PEI life. You can be traveling down the highway at 90 km/h when all of a sudden you’ve got to slow down to a crawl because a tractor has pulled out on the highway.

Of course, when that happens, what do you want to do? You want to get around them, right? But the problem with where we live, and really with all the back-country roads, is that they’re single lane and there are all kinds of turns and blind hills. So you can’t always see what’s ahead and what might be coming over the next hill. Which makes your decision on when to pass just a little bit more complicated.

But here’s the thing: when you and your family have major decisions to make, you might not be able to see what’s around the next turn You might have no clue what’s over that next hill. But God sees it all with perfect clarity. He loves you and wants to direct you down the paths in life which will bring you the greatest joy and blessing.

So include God in those family discussions, pray, and trust His guidance. Often, I think you’ll find that He still leaves the decision to you. He trusts your judgment. But He may also prompt you with gentle nudges. If you are praying and just can’t find peace about a decision, even if everything looks great but you just feel like there’s just something wrong, that may be God directing you down a different path.

So pay attention and trust Him. He loves you, He loves your family, He knows all the variables, and He wants the best for you.


2.    Your Friendships

•    Be Loyal to your friends.

In the Old Testament, there’s a famous friendship between David and Jonathan. One of the reasons their friendship is so famous is because of the loyalty they had to each other. Jonathan’s father, King Saul, absolutely hated David. The prophet Samuel had named David as the next king of Israel, which meant that Saul would lose the throne. So Saul plotted to do away with David. He was going to kill him. But when Jonathan found out what his father was planning, he warned David and David was able to escape.

But think for a moment what this would cost Jonathan. Jonathan was the oldest son of the king. And you know what that means; Jonathan was next in line for the throne. But if David were to become king, that meant Jonathan would not. But their friendship and their loyalty were strong enough that Jonathan didn’t care. All he was concerned about was saving the life of his friend, regardless of what it might cost him personally. Listen to what he told David when he warned David to go into hiding:

1 Samuel 20:42 (NIV)
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD , saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’”

And then years later, David was actually able to do that… he was able to take care of Jonathan’s descendants. Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth who had a couple of problems. First, he was names Mephibosheth. That was a problem. Second, he had been injured as an infant and was crippled as a result. So when David became king, he took care of Mephibosheth and assigned servants to watch over him. 

Loyalty means you keep your promise of friendship. Even if it costs you something personally, even if it’s inconvenient, even if it’s not the safe or popular thing to do. You keep your promise of friendship.

Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.


•    Express mutual love and support.

Sing it if you know it:

PLAY SONG - Lean On Me (by Bill Withers)

Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow.
But if we are wise, we know that there's always tomorrow.

Lean on me, when you're not strong.
I'll be your friend. I'll help you carry on,
For it won't be long 'til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on.

Please swallow your pride, if have things you need to borrow.
For no one can fill those needs that you won't let show.

You just call on me brother when you need a hand.
We all need somebody to lean on.
I just might have a problem that you'll understand.
We all need somebody to lean on.

If there is a load you have to bear that you can't carry.
I'm right up the road, I'll share your load if you just call me.

Call me ( if you need a friend) Call me

That song is a great picture of what friendship is meant to be. We lean on each other. We need each other. We depend on each other.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

•    Believe the best in each other.

In a strong, healthy friendship, I put a “10” on your forehead and you put a “10” on mine. (No, not literally.) We believe and expect the best in each other. We encourage each other to reach for our potential and to go to the next level.

Philippians 2:1-4 (NLT)
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

We spur our friends on when they feel like quitting.
We encourage them when all seems hopeless.
We celebrate with then over their victories and weep with them over their losses.
When our friends do something noble, we praise them in public.
When they do something awful, we correct them in private.
When others attack them, we defend them.
When others forsake them, we stick with them.
When the weight of life tries to crush them, we hold them up and share the load.
And our friends do the same for us.


3.    Your Enemies

•    Decide you want to love them.

You’ve just got to decide. Decide that you’re going to follow the example of Jesus and learn to love others, even your enemies. You may not get it right every time, but strive to get better every day. Learn to control your anger. Learn to show love, not hatred. Learn to overcome bitterness and contempt and replace it with compassion.

Did you know that you can choose to love? We often treat love like it’s something you fall into, like whrn you slip on a patch of ice. You’re not ready for it, you’re not looking for it, but the splat… there you are flat on your back in love. Or we treat it like it’s something you catch, just like malaria. Well, maybe not just like malaria, but you get the point.

But the truth is, love is a decision. You ca choose to love.

Deuteronomy 30:20 (NLT)
“You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God…”

So you can choose to love, which means that even when you don’t feel like loving your enemies, you can still choose to love them anyway.

Matthew 5:43-44 (NLT)
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies!”

•    Pray for your enemies, not against them.

Mathew 5:44 (NLT)
“Pray for those who persecute you!”

Pray for them, not against them. Don’t pray that God will get even with them for you, don’t pray that God will destroy them or bring them harm. Pray for their well-being… Pray for their prosperity… pray for them to be reconciled to God… pray that you might even play a role in that happening.

I think the reason that Jesus told us to pray for our enemies is because it’s impossible to pray for them and remain hostile and bitter toward them.

Remember how we talked about how your heart follows your money? Well, it’s also true that your compassion follows your prayers. As you pray for your enemies, those feelings of animosity and even hatred will melt away and you begin to be filled with a love and compassion for them instead. That doesn’t mean all the problems between you automatically disappear, but your perspective of them changes.

“Prayer is the forerunner of mercy.”
~ C.H. Spurgeon

 
•    Remember: If they matter to Jesus they matter to me.

I have a magnet on my fridge that says that (“If they matter to Jesus they matter to me.”) We actually gave those magnets away here a couple years ago, so some of you may have that same magnet on your fridge. So what does it mean?

Well, the way I see it, if God is God and is completely holy and just, yet He decides to love me despite all of my flaws and sinfulness, then I have no right to treat anyone else with hatred or contempt. If Jesus was willing to go to the cross because of His great love for me, then by what right can I withhold love from anyone else? If I declare my enemy to be unlovable, I’m essentially declaring myself to be more holy than God Himself! If God can love them, then so can I.

What does Jesus tell us about how God the Father treats His enemies?

Matthew 5:45 (NLT)
“For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.”

I used to think this verse was telling me that God blesses both the evil and the good… that’s the sunlight… and He allows bad things to happen to them, too… that’s the rain. But I’ve come to realize that Jesus was speaking to an agricultural society. Both the sunlight and the rain are important. So there’s nothing in what Jesus was saying about bad things happening… it’s all good. God blesses us, regardless of who we are.

The simple truth is, people matter to Jesus. Regardless of how good they are or how evil they are, they matter to Him. And if they matter to Jesus they matter to me. “If they matter to Jesus, they matter to me.” Say it with me…

“If they matter to Jesus, they matter to me.” 

 

 

Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2010 SunriseOnline.ca