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Lesson 4: Relationships *

Introduction: At the very beginning of the Bible we find God saying "it is not good for the man to be alone." Genesis 2:18. In that statement God seems to vote in favor of relationships. However, how many times do you find that having relationships with others, not being alone, creates most problems? What does the Bible teach us about relationships? Does God's statement about humans not being alone have a deeper meaning? Let's dive into our study and learn what the Bible teaches about relationships!

  1. The Road to Honor


    1. Read Luke 14:7. Would you like to be honored? Is honor one of the goals of your life?


      1. If these people were eating alone, there would be no problem, right?


      2. Put yourself in the place of one of the guests. The fact that you pick a place of "honor" says what about your attitude about some of the other guests? (You think they are less important.)


    2. When it comes to business, do you seek the highest position?


      1. Does that mean you are the most qualified person, or do you seek the highest position for other reasons?


      2. What does the world suggest about seeking dignity, honor and success?


      3. If you do not seek honor, dignity and success are you lazy? Do you lack motivation?


    3. Read Luke 14:8-9. What is the logic behind taking the least important seat? Just because you are not the most important person does not mean that you are the least important person at the wedding feast, right?


    4. Read Luke 14:10. What good thing do you think Jesus is trying to do for us? (He is giving us tips (inside information) to help us avoid being humiliated. He is giving a roadmap to honor.)


      1. If we were not told that taking the least important seat was the "secret path" to honor, would anyone other than an obviously unimportant person do that?


      2. How would a person logically decide where to sit? (You would have to measure yourself against others. Jesus tells us to consider the needs of others first - not put our claims first.)


      3. Do you actually think that in real life the host cares about where you sit and would come and elevate you? (Our God is the Host, and He cares.)


    5. Read Luke 14:11. Why is this true? (Exalting yourself shows a primary concern about self. Being humble shows a primary concern about others.)


      1. If you are paying attention and taking notes about Jesus' tip because you want to enjoy honor, because you want to be exalted, does that show that you are not humble?


        1. Is Jesus suggesting that we should look humble, but not actually be humble?


    6. Read Ephesians 4:1-3. What do you think Paul means when he tells us to be "completely humble?" Would a completely humble person have the hidden plan to be honored and exalted?


    7. Read Romans 2:7. What is the goal of the people mentioned here? (Glory, honor and immortality!)


    8. Read Romans 2:8. If you seek glory and honor, are you not self-seeking?


    9. Read Romans 2:9-11. What does this suggest about whether we should desire to be honored? (Having a desire for glory and honor is not inconsistent with being a Christian. If it were, Jesus and Paul would not mention them as a reward. The question is, how do we go about achieving glory and honor?)


  2. All Hat, No Cattle


    1. Read Matthew 23:5-7. If I told you that you could receive honor by having a wide "phylactery" and a long "tassel," would you know what you should do? (A phylactery is a little pouch containing a writing from the Bible. The tassels were to remind people of God's words in the Bible (see Numbers 15:39). A long tassel suggested that a person was really paying attention to God.)


    2. Many of you are reading this on the "GoBible.org" web site. Are the big phylactery, long tassel people not promoting the Bible? Isn't that the essence of "GoBible?"


    3. What would be the modern equivalent to a big phylactery and long tassel? (A large, flashy Bible.)


      1. What about a big, dusty family Bible sitting prominently in a home?


      2. Are these kinds of people giving honor to God's word? (They are advertising that they are more concerned about the Bible than others.)


        1. Is that bad?


      3. What would be better? (Showing you cared about the Bible by obeying - putting others first. They were about appearance (hat), not substance (cattle).)


    4. Read Matthew 23:8-12. What is the path to being exalted? (You earn it by humbly working for others, not taking the best seat, adopting an exalted name or having a flashy Bible.)


    5. Hebrews 5:4-5. Think back to our first story about the wedding banquet host calling you to a higher place. What is our role in seeking glory and honor? (Glory and honor are consistent with Christianity. Claiming glory and honor are inconsistent with Christianity. If we humbly serve others, God will call us to be honored.)


      1. Have we gotten badly off-topic? How does this approach help with relationships? (You are not in a struggle with co-workers, friends and family members for glory. You are in a struggle with others to see who can be the most helpful!)


  3. Payback


    1. Read 1 Peter 3:8. How is this consistent with humbly serving others? (It tells us to be humble. But, more importantly, sympathy, compassion and love show that we put our selfish interests aside and focus on the needs of others.)


      1. Let's go back to the introduction just a minute. When God said "it is not good for the man to be alone" ( Genesis 2:18) was he just talking about marriage? (No. If we are alone, we think only about our own needs. When we are in a relationship, we think about the needs of others.)


    2. Read 1 Peter 3:9 and Leviticus 24:19-20. Has God changed His mind? He says in Malachi 3:6 that He does not change! (I don't think God is teaching us about justice in 1 Peter 3, He is teaching us about relationships. Concern for others comes ahead of justice. Justice is essential for society ( Romans 13:3-5), but when it comes to personal relationships justice takes a back seat.)


    3. Read 1 Peter 3:12-13. If we have this self-sacrificing attitude about relationships, will we suffer injustice? (This text gives us two assurances. First, God opposes the wicked. Second, the nature of things is that if you are eager to help, people are nice to you.)


    4. Read Luke 17:1-4. When it comes to opposing sin, where should we start? (With us! Jesus says "watch yourself!")


      1. How does Jesus suggest that we reconcile "no payback" and forgiveness with continuing sin? (Unselfishly seeking the good of others does not mean that we are silent about sin. Notice the forgiveness procedure: 1) Rebuke sin; 2) The rebuked person repents; and, 3)You forgive - without limit.)


    5. Read Matthew 5:23-24. Who is the person who is holding a grudge? (The person not at the altar!)


      1. How should we understand this - we need to be reconciled with people who do not like us?


      2. Years ago this text caused me to try to reconcile with someone who seemed to hate me because I was rebuking sin. Is that what this text means? (It was a painful process. I learned to look at things from the rebuked person's point of view. The rebuked person hated me less, but was still unwilling to be my friend. The benefit of my effort was that family members now saw the facts more clearly and were drawn closer to me and the church. I now think that this text is directed to the situation where the person at the altar has done something wrong.)


    6. Friend, I hope that by now you see the Bible teaches that unselfishness, seeking the good of others first (rather than your own good), is the key to great relationships. Will you confess and repent of your selfish attitude and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with a spirit of unselfishness?


  4. Next week: Guilt.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2014 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
Website by Blake Cameron, M.D.
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