Storeroom Sermons of David Chadwell

Christianity and Relationships (Pt. 3)

How long has it been since you focused on or gave serious attention to the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) when God spoke those commandments to Israel?

Then God spoke all these words, saying, I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die” (Exodus 20:1-19).

There are several things that are obvious to me. (1) They should listen to God because of what He did for them in delivering them from slavery. (2) Israel did not wish to listen to God because they saw God as a terrifying power rather than a helping power. (3) If they correctly understand God, they understand the way they treat people is the way they treat God.

Today, I would like for us to think about the third obvious thing: if we understand the character and nature of God, we understand that correct knowledge of God will affect the way we treat each other.

  1. Why?
    1. The reason: people are made in the image and likeness of God.
      Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28).
      1. Because a human being is in the image and likeness of God, that fact/understanding will change the way a person who knows God looks at other people.
      2. Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus:
        ". . . put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Ephesians 4:24).
      3. And again to the Christians in Colossae:
        ". . . put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all" (Colossians 3:10,11).
      4. James wrote to Christians:
        "But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh" (James 3:8-12).
      5. The point is repeatedly made.
        1. A person cannot know God and treat people with indifference or rudeness.
        2. If I belong to God, when I look at you I see much more than the things you have and how you can benefit me.
        3. No one can see God and not treat people differently.
    2. This is not something "new" or "different" about God that in some mysterious way came into existence when Jesus died and was resurrected to reign as the Christ.
      1. This always has been true about the character and nature of God.
      2. God did not change as a Being in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
      3. What God could do in His relationship with us changed because of His gift in Jesus' death and resurrection.
      4. Consider a illustration:
        1. When there was rebellion against God in Eden, the rebellion quickly went from eating a fruit to the murder of a brother.
          1. When people rebel against God, they lose their respect for others.
          2. If I refuse to appreciate God by surrendering to Him, I lose my respect for you.
          3. Knowing and appreciating God will change my attitude and behavior toward you.
        2. To speak practically:
          1. I cannot love God and hate you.
          2. I cannot accept God's forgiveness and refuse to extend you my forgiveness.
          3. I cannot expect God to hear my every prayer and need while refusing to listen to you.
          4. I cannot depend on God's compassion, mercy, and grace while refusing to extend to you compassion, mercy, and grace.
      5. To me, the ultimate expression of this attitude is found in a statement Jesus made in his Sermon on the Mount:  "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).
        1. Why will another person be better off if I treat him like I want to be treated?
        2. He or she won't be better off . . . unless I know God and let that knowledge shape (1) my behavior and (2) the way I look at people.
        3. If I treat you like I want to be treated, and all I know is wicked behavior, your situation will not likely improve.
        4. Only if I know God and let my knowledge of God shape the way I look at you will my treating you like I want to be treated (as one who knows God) lead to your benefit.

  2. The first human relationships to benefit from my knowing God should be my family relationships.
    1. Knowing God should result in a husband treating his wife with understanding and kindness.
    2. Knowing God should result in a wife treating her husband with understanding and kindness.
    3. Knowing God should result in parents treating their children with understanding and kindness.
    4. "Can you be more specific?"
      1. Knowing God results in a husband learning how to let his wife act and think like a woman.
      2. Knowing God results in a wife learning how to let her husband act and think like a man.
      3. Men and women do not act alike and do not think alike!
        1. I am not talking about justifying or ignoring evil behavior or wicked thoughts.
        2. I am talking about learning good behavior in a male and in a female.
        3. I am talking about not expecting a man to deny his masculine nature or expecting a woman to deny her feminine nature.
        4. I am talking about informing yourself instead of demanding or ordering.
      4. I also suggest that knowing God results in parents allowing their children to be children.
        1. Do not expect a 4-year-old to act like a 15-year-old.
        2. Do not expect a 15-year-old to act like a 25-year-old.
        3. Just as children must develop mentally and physically, they also must develop in their ability to exercise good judgment.
        4. While parents always expect their children to develop to the full extent of their ability, they never demand of their children what they cannot do.
        5. Children are not little adults, and we do them no favor by forcing them to act as if they were little adults.
        6. Again, we are not condoning bad behavior, but neither are we encouraging impossible behavior.

  3. I suggest the church needs to take the lead in encouraging godly behavior in families.
    1. We need spiritually to develop an entirely different concept of success in family relationships.
      1. Because we do not divorce does not mean we are successful in godly relationships.
      2. Because a child continues an excellent attendance record in a congregation and marries someone who has an excellent attendance record in a congregation does not prove they love each other.
      3. Husbands and wives who come to worship constantly may fight like cats and dogs at home--the only thing they may share is the same address.
      4. Our children may marry Christians yet form a home of hatred.
      5. It takes much more than a refusal to divorce or church attendance to be successful in marriage and home.
    2. What are some of the criteria in a successful marriage/home?
      1. Do they know how to love unselfishly?
      2. How do they show love?
      3. Do they know how to share?
      4. Are their actions and behavior ruled by kindness?
      5. Are they sacrificial in their treatment of each other?
      6. Are they friends who share their friendship with each other?
      7. Are they thoughtful of each other?
      8. Do they share things or self with each other?
      9. Do they depend on each other?
      10. Do they trust each other?
      11. Do they do "their own thing" or do they share time with each other?
      12. Is their feeling for each other dependent on prosperity or lifestyle?
I think it is appropriate to end where we began. (1) We listen to God because of what He does for us. (2) We are not terrified of God, but see God as a source of hope. (3) We understand that the way we treat people is the way we treat God.

Understanding those things, our marriages and homes are blessed because we belong to God. God, in love for us, teaches us how to commit in marriage because we have learned to love from God.

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