Why do you think people typically struggle with friendships and building relationships?
Review what Phil said:
We all want a better life. We want to upgrade things and sometimes the people in our lives.
Some would say life would be awesome if it weren’t for people.
Reality is we were born for relationships. They are everywhere, at home, at work, friends, etc…
With relationships comes friction and conflict and disappointment.
In order to have a better life we need to have better relationships.
1 Cor 13:1-3 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all
mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Basically you can put your best resume out there and God says if you don’t have love it is all a big nothing. Love is super important to God and to having a better life.
What if we need to think about relationships and love differently in order to upgrade them?
Phil suggested that it is not who you love but how you love and not what you have but what you give that will lead to better relationships.
Talk about it:
What does it look like when we focus on improving our relationships by considering how we love and what we give instead of who we love and what we have?
When frictions arise what usually comes out of you? What lies under the surface ready to spring out? Why? What are you thinking or feeling when you react that way?
1 Cor 13 describes the behavior of love.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
Love is not proud.
Love does not dishonor others.
Love is not self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil.
Love rejoices with the truth.
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.
This is God’s description of Himself. God is love and this is what He means by love.
We tend to describe love by how someone makes us feel about ourselves.
We all want to know if we are loved. We want to know how real is that love, will it endure even through the ugly times. We long to be deeply, permanently, securely loved. God designed us for relationship with Him. That is what is missing. The hole in our lives can only be perfectly filled by Him.
Our relationships cannot bear the weight of that need. When we bring that emptiness into our friendships and family relationships it creates a stress that no relationship can bear. That’s when we think a different person or situation will make me all better.
John 2:23-25 (NIV) while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Phil shared how even Jesus didn’t entrust Himself to men because He knew what was in each of them. We cannot trust others to be the validation of our worth or the determiner of how we are loved, etc… Only God is trustworthy with the responsibility to love us unconditionally and without fail. Only God is capable of being the One whose love is not dimmed because we fail, fall and resist Him.
What happens when we want or expect others to validate us and to love us perfectly?
How unfair is it for us to expect others to do what only God can do? Why do we do that?
How does this stress relationships and make them more difficult and weaker rather than better?
1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.
The love we receive from God is the love that we have to give to others.
What do I do with my need to be loved?
Do my relationships look like a contract where IF you do…then I will….
Do my relationships look like a covenant? God’s love is covenant love. It is unconditional, it remains, it doesn’t fail no matter what our behavior or response His love is unchanging.
Luke 15:20 the story of the prodigal son. What characteristics of love from 1 Cor 13 do you see in the prodigal’s father?
This is how God loves you.
Spend some time this week reflecting on the prodigal’s story and the love of the father.
Realize that this is exactly how the Father loves you. What does that bring to you that you can share with others?
Only by drinking deeply from the cup of the Father’s love for you will you have love to share with others.
What needs attention in your heart that you need to bring to God to fill up or make whole?
What needs attention in the way you are loving others?
Think of one issue you have in relating to others and bring that to God this week. Ask Him to show you how He loves you and demonstrates His love in the area of your need. Ask Him to help you open your heart to receive all of the love He has for you. Are you in need of patience? Kindness? Not keeping scores of others wrongs etc…Ask Him to fill you up with the knowledge of His personal patience, kindness, not score keeping etc for you and others.
Where can you take God’s love into all of your relationships this week?