Right Relationships–Luke 6:27-42
In John 13:35 Jesus gives the following word of prophecy concerning the future of all those who would receive and follow Him. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” This sign is the primary indicator or marker to the outside world that we are truly His disciples. This sign, He says is “love for one another.”
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” But even though God is good, life is sometimes hard, and relationships can be difficult. And so this morning I want to speak to you along the lines that the Lord has been dealing with me over the course of my life, ministry, and specifically this year. I want to talk with you on the subject of right relationships.
- People are basically selfish.
All people, men and women are selfish because of our fallen nature. Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way.” Romans chapter 3 describes the selfish details. “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one” (vv. 10-12) “And the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (vv. 17-18). And the fact that we need never to forget is “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (v. 23). The underlying trait of all sin is selfishness. We all share this in common.
Even what we commonly call love is often tainted with personal selfishness; most people “love” for the purpose of accommodating themselves, not for meeting the needs of others.
For people to love unselfishly as God loves, we must first appropriate God’s love for ourselves. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 1 John 4:10-11 “In this is love, not that we 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.”
- Believers are the recipients of God’s love.
If a person has truly received God’s love vertically (from above), they must show it both vertically toward God and horizontally (across, back and forth) toward others.
In our present earthly make-up as believers we possess the Spirit of Christ. (Romans 8:9) “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Jesus made it clear that He was God. (John 10:30) “I and My Father are one.” (John 14:9) “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” And as good Bible students we all know that we worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He is One in Three. This doctrine is also know as the Holy Trinity. 1 John 4:8 beautifully tells us that “God is love.” What I am getting at is this; as Christians who have been saved by the grace of God we are in possession of and indwelt with the Spirit of love. (2 Tim. 1:7) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” But even though we have the Spirit of love in our hearts by the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, we still have a problem. (“Houston, we have a problem!”) At this present time, we still live in our earth suits. And because we still do there is still a remnant of the old nature within.
- The love of God must be demonstrated towards everyone.
But the prevailing philosophy of most is: I want to love you but I cannot completely disregard (wiifm) the consideration of what’s in it for me. It is easier to love those who love us than those who do not. “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). Loving those who love us is the natural exchange of love.
But I want to remind you that there is a supernatural standard for Christians to reach for. In 1st Corinthians after all of the discourse on the Lord’s Supper & the right use of spiritual gifts, the Scripture affirms “And yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31). Therefore 1st Corinthians 13 is the love that can and should be manifested by the children of God. That love letter ends like this, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (v. 13).
Loving others does not mean blindly accepting others. Loving others does not mean irresponsibly accepting the harm that others want to inflict upon us and other innocent people.
Loving others does mean properly evaluating others. If they show love toward us we must recognize this. If they show hatred we must recognize it as such. A proper diagnosis of others equips us with the knowledge to help others so that they may be healed of their sickness and wrong attitudes.
- What is the Lord teaching us about judging?
In the area of judging others do not misunderstand our Lord. He does not mean that we should allow others to do as they please if that adversely affects righteousness as revealed in God’s Word. Examine Paul’s statement in 1st Corinthians 13:7; love “believes all things.” Does this mean even a falsehood? No. Verse 7 must be compatible with verse 6 which says, Love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.”
The Lord wants us to judge in the sense of evaluating. But He wants our evaluation of people and situations to be correct. – The Lord wants our evaluation of others to be just; meaning fair, accurate, and not for personal gain. – The Lord does not want us to judge superficially; according to what shows on the outside. Go deeper than what your natural eyes can see. – The Lord does not want us to judge according to the flesh. Not by what or how it is going to affect my physical pleasure or my material gain.
But let’s not forget the caution of our Lord. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged.” The Greek verb translated “judge not” (in Luke 6:37) is in the active continuous. If you will allow me to paraphrase, Jesus is saying, “Don’t let judging be your way of life.” – Our Lord continues “and you shall not be judged.” With this phrase the Lord is indicating that we shall all be judged by God and that God’s judgment is contingent upon the kind of judgment we demonstrate on earth.
Let me show you this connection. Please notice just how connected verses 37 & 38 of our text are. We typically quote verse 38 out of context and apply it to financial giving. Now don’t get upset with me because the principle is still the same. But if we are to be good Bible students then we must give its primary interpretation to context. What then was Jesus talking about with this profound statement? “Give and it shall be given to you…” should be applied to judging, condemning, and forgiving. So, in these areas of life we should use caution and remember that “with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
- If our vertical relationship is right, then our horizontal ones can be right.
The final point I am driving to is that if an individual is in a right relationship with God then they can and should be in a right relationship with everyone else. But if they are not in a right relationship with God then they have not made themselves the recipient of His love. And those who have not received His love cannot love – in its truest sense – themselves or others. That is, they cannot be right with others because they are not right with God. And for those who already consider themselves right with God the matter is as serious as eternity. We, as believers cannot stay in possession of the peace of God if we cannot stay at peace with those inside and outside of the family of God. Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
The physical structure of a sign that we dedicate today may turn the heads of passers by. But the primary sign that will tell the tale on this church is “if you have love for one another.” In fact, the true message of the Gospel is about right relationships. The most important decision you could ever make is to get in a right relationship with God.