We’ve been learning recently about how to have healthy relationships; connections with others. We gained some tools to help us to live out this verse:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
This morning, we learn about the ultimate goal and why this is such an important issue in our lives. The initial benefit is that the quality of our lives is far better when our relationships are healthy. We have more peace, joy, and fulfillment in life.
However, there is a much more significant goal than our own comfort in life for having healthy relationships.
Their eternity may be hanging on the balance of our relationship with them. Their decision of Heaven or Hell may be decided based on the ability of them to receive the gospel through us. If we choose to live with this reality in the forefronts of our minds, all of the petty things that we get into arguments about would matter far less.
If we live with this reality in mind, it will be far easier to live out Romans 12:18 and that’s the only way that we can push beyond verse 18 and live out verses 19-21:
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We are called to live at peace with everyone, as far as it depends on us, and to overcome evil with good. Even when it comes to our enemies, we are called to feed them when they are hungry, to give them drink when they are thirsty; to serve their needs.
This prepares the way for others to receive the good news about Jesus and all that the Kingdom of God offers through us. It lowers mountains and raises up valleys. It breaks down barriers and demolishes the lies of the enemy.
It may burn some people up, it may get some people saved, but living this way will certainly make an impact on the lives of those around us. It’s hard to ignore it when you just can’t keep a person down or get them to not do good in return!
As much as it depends on us… Here is the reality so that we maintain a healthy expectation in our relationships.
Not even Jesus, God face-to-face in the flesh, was able to forge good and healthy relationships with everyone. He always did good to them, but they didn’t always return that favor. Many hated Him, despised Him, gossiped about Him, and were even so enraged toward Him to the point of screaming for Him to be crucified…
Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. He forgave them even from the cross. Yet, they still rejected Him.
However, some received Him and chose to lay down their own lives to follow Him. Those who received Him forged a relationship with Him that will last far beyond this lifetime! Jesus said:
Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
The Bible describes our relationship with God and His Kingdom in several different ways. We are God’s children, His friends, but also His servants.
God freely gives us His grace expressed in many different forms. One of the forms of God’s grace are gifts that He gives to us that enable and equip us to serve others. His purpose is that through our relationships with others, that we would serve them. In doing so, they are brought into an encounter with God’s Kingdom.
If it is through our relationships with others that God wants to reach people with His grace and with the good news of His salvation through service, what do you think the enemy is going to attack? Is it any wonder, then, that relationships are so incredibly difficult? The enemy is literally opposing us through relationships.
If the devil can keep our relationships with others on the rocks, then others aren’t going to be quick to trust us or to receive anything from us. The devil will paint a bad picture of us in the eyes of others and place the blame on God saying, “See what Christians are like? You don’t want anything to do with people like that!”
That’s why Paul wrote to Titus and encouraged him that:
7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
And Peter wrote:
1 Peter 3:15-16
15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
And Paul also wrote:
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
11… make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Peter gave us this end time warning:
1 Peter 4:7-11
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
The end is near! So… Love and serve others.
Jesus, Himself, taught us to do the same regarding the end times.
The Day and Hour Unknown
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
We don’t know exactly when Jesus will call us home or return to end this creation. However, we know that the time is certainly coming. We ought to live with eternity in mind. We will all stand before Judge Jesus and give an account for our lives. It will be good for us if He finds us faithfully serving when that time comes. It is good for us to live every moment ready to meet Jesus.
Jesus explained to His disciples that His own death was soon arriving. According to Mark, James and John requested to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus when He is glorified. In Matthew, it records that their mother made this request. The other 10 disciples became enraged at them for requesting such a thing.
42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The Kingdom of God is right-side-up while our world is upside-down when it comes to the topic of authority and leadership. God grants authority to serve. The world grants authority that they might be served. God grants authority to destroy the work of the devil and build the Kingdom of God. The world grants authority to use those under their authority and to build their own kingdom.
We are saved to serve. We are freely given the Kingdom of God that we might freely give it away to those around us.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.
This simple verse is something that we just don’t see happen in our culture. However, it happens in God’s Kingdom culture! A rich man comes home from partying at a wedding all night to his servants. He doesn’t start giving them requests or make any demands of his own servants. No, instead, he changes into servant clothes, tells his own servants to kick back and relax, and begins serving them!
Imagine the joy in that household! Imagine the peace! Imagine the atmosphere that is created when the master serves. Instead of the servants begrudgingly serving their master, they will do it with great passion and eagerness. They will look for ways to go above and beyond in their service!
What if we were to take on this same attitude with serving those around us? Intentionally, eagerly, passionately? After all, our Master Jesus laid down everything to serve us. He healed, saved, delivered, washed feet, fed the hungry, drew water for the thirsty. Master Jesus served us so that we might follow Him in this example as His servants. Jesus goes on, then:
39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”
42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
There’s no way to sugar coat this because Jesus certainly didn’t. Revelation comes with responsibility.
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
Let’s not be lazy servants who use our relationships for our own benefit. Let’s be good servants who use our relationships to serve others willingly and joyfully! Let’s serve even our enemies knowing that at any moment, we will stand before Jesus and answer for our own service.
We won’t answer for what others did to us. We won’t answer for what others say about us. We won’t answer for how others responded to us. We will only answer for our own service. Let’s make that day a day of great rejoicing! Let’s make that a day when Master Jesus tells us:
‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’