Stewardship of Our Relationships


Peninsula Community Church

Stewardship of Our Relationships

June 29, 2014

I John 4:7-12 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

Before we begin this morning let me rehearse what we have discussed so far in our series on stewardship. In our study, we have come to understand that stewardship means that God owns everything and we are simply the caretakers of God’s provision. We are to use what God has given us to provide for our families and to expand the kingdom of God. That is an exciting proposition. 

Secondly, we have come to understand that while our finances and our possessions are in essence not ours, they belong to God but God allows us to enjoy them, and to honor Him in what we have been given. With that in mind, we are also reminded that it is our spiritual duty and responsibility before God to give back to Him. Scripture speaks of the tithe as the template of measurement for giving to God. It is of note that when we give to God out of what He has blessed us with, we will reap rewards and blessings. Look at the following Scriptures with me. Please note these are not my words but are directly from God, Himself.

In Malachi 3:8-12 we find the following: Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you? ’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. 

Too often in this passage the focus is on the negative but let’s focus on the positive. When we are faithful God will pour out a blessing upon us. The devourer will be rebuked so that you will have a fruitful life and ministry. You will be called blessed because of this. Please note that you will be called blessed by the nonbeliever as well as the believer. 

Again in I Corinthians 9:6-8 we find the words of Paul. The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

How awesome is that we honor God in our giving and we are blessed as a result? How many believe that is God’s word? We give, God honors His word, we are blessed, and those around us are blessed as well. You see when we honor God, the blessing is never just for us. It is to be shared and will be shared without us knowing it.

Another issue we touched on is that we are to be good stewards of God’s creation as creation is a testimony to who God is and what God wants to accomplish in us and through us. By stewarding God’s creation correctly, we in essence point to God’s creative power and His sustaining power in us and in the world. We are reminded that God’s creation is in itself a testimony of God’s ability to point back to himself and to reveal who He is.

And last week, we looked at the stewardship of the Gospel. We saw that God desires that we share our faith with others. We do so to expand the kingdom of God and to reach people for Christ. We have the joy and the privilege to be God’s messengers of hope in a dying world.

This week I would like to take some time and look at the stewardship of our relationships. This may seem a strange thing but this is critical as we are living in the age of social media. In today’s environment too often we measure our security and self-worth by the number of people we have friended on Facebook rather than the value of the relationships we have. Because of social media we are more connected than ever, but studies have shown that the value of those relationships in many ways can be devalued if we are not careful. For some people this has been a blessings as they can now open up lines of communication that were not available before. For others it is a distraction from regular face-to-face or verbal communication. 

The fact is we have been given relationships and connections with others to serve one another and to honor God through those relationships. There are a number of ways to serve one another and to steward our relationships. How do we do this? 

We find ways to connect with one another. We go to dinner with one another. We communicate with one another. We do things together. One of the complaints I hear often in the church is that “I never get invited any where.” If you have made that statement have you considered that you could do some inviting on your own. Maybe God is calling you to have some folks over. This is the positive of the small groups here at PCC. If we do this right, there will be official groups that are promoted by the church and there will be spontaneous groups that get together to fellowship and to discuss God’s blessing and His word on their life. They will go to the movies. They will go the beach. They will go to a park. They will do life together.

We pray for others. How often do you pray for those with whom you are in relationship? Do you pray for them or do you have the default response of saying “I will pray for you” only to never do so? Here’s another a big question for you. Do you spend more time talking about and criticizing others than you do praying for them? When we are talking about and criticizing others it is easy to find fault with them. It is so easy for us to enter that realm of seeing the speck in others but miss the log in our own eye. I have found that criticism is contagious. Have you heard a criticism of someone and at first you don’t see it but then you continue to hear the criticism to where you begin to believe it.

Let me ask you and I do not need a verbal answer, how much time do you pray for others? How much time you spend praying for the leadership team of PCC and the ministries of PCC? How much time do you spend praying for that person on your job that drives you crazy? Or, that person next door?

We find ways to bless others. When we are in relationships, we find ways to bless others. This is true in the marriage relationship, it is true in the work relationship, it is true in the community we live, and it is true with our church family. We look for ways to bless others and not curse them. We look for ways to minister to them that builds them up and encourages them in the ways of God. Perhaps it is a card. Perhaps it is a text message. Perhaps it is word of encouragement in the hallway or the foyer of the church. Perhaps it is meeting a need in another’s life. Perhaps it is meeting a need in a way that no one else knows about. 

We forgive one another. When we are in relationship with others we must keep a short list of offenses and wrongs we have against another person. We must be able to walk in forgiveness. You see God has called us to forgive as we have been forgiven. Let me ask you how much have you been forgiven of this morning? How much did you deserve that forgiveness. It is not by chance that God placed Matthew 18 and others like it in the Bible. These passages call for us to give forgiveness and to receive forgiveness because there is freedom in forgiveness. There is freedom in letting go of the hurts and the pain of the present and the past. 

Paul honed in on this idea when he penned these words. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14).

This is a powerful scripture. It encourages a Christian lifestyle and Christian character to be revealed in each one of us. Notice what we are to put on … “Compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.” If you have a complaint, find a way to forgive which is most often a choice we make. How do we do this? Our motivation is a recognition of God’s forgiveness for us. That is our motivation. 

We should encourage one another. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11). We need to encourage one another when we see someone doing what is right in God’s sight. We need to encourage that one who has gone astray to do the right thing as well. God has planned for our gloomy days. One tool he uses is encouragement. As we encourage one another we are blessed, restored and renewed. So let’s look for ways to bring an encouraging word to others.

 

© Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved, Robert W. Odom

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