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TOPIC: EXCELLING IN MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS

Joseph Addison (1672 to 1719) once said, “If men would con: Ephesians 4: 1-6

Aim: To lead women to maintain excellent relationships in all areas of life.

Memory Verse: “Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all”. (Rom. 12:16 NLT).
 Introduction:

One sider not so much wherein they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less hatred and angry feelings in the world.” This statement fits very well with our lesson for today. There will certainly be far less hatred and angry feelings in families, churches and society at large if each one of us considers our areas of agreement more than where we differ. In today’s lesson we will focus on maintaining relationships.

1.    God expects us to excel in maintaining relationships.
God our creator and heavenly Father expects us to excel in our relationships with him and with one another. In our memory verse, the Apostle Paul calls on the Romans to live in harmony with each other. This does not necessarily mean that you will agree with everything everyone says or does, but that even when you disagree, that should not become the reason for you to quarrel, fight or divide with others. The Bible in several places calls upon us to live in harmony with one another (See Phil. 4:2; 2:2). To live in harmony means to live in a state of peaceful existence and agreement with one another. It is agreeing to major on our similarities rather than on our differences. Majoring on our differences surely promotes vexation and bitterness among us but majoring on our similarities promotes unity and progress.

2.    Excellent human relationships begin with excellent relationship with God.
It is our Christian duty to relate well with one another. However, practically it is often very difficult to do this. This is because different people have different ways of looking at things and of doing things. Even identical twins do not reason and act in the same way. There is always at least one thing that will set apart one individual from another. This makes it difficult to relate well with one another. However, it is very possible to relate well with one another. This is possible if we all relate well with our Lord Jesus Christ. Look up at the roof of your church building (especially if it is V-shape). You will notice that the closer the rafters get to the tip of the roof, the closer they get to each other. In the same way, the closer we draw nearer to Christ, the better we relate with one another and vice-versa.

3.    It takes humility and love to maintain excellent relationships
Proverbs 16: 18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (NIV). Pride is the cancer that eats deep into our relationships causing us to hate and separate from one another. It is the fertile soil in which all other sins grow. It takes humility to excel in relationships. Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient; bearing with one another in love”. As Christians, we must humble ourselves and associate with everybody, big or small, poor or rich, educated or uneducated. We must not let anything stand in the way of our relationship with one another. The true evidence of being educated is relating well with others. He/she who claims to be educated but can not relate well with others is a misfit. He/she is literate, but not educated. The last part of our memory verse says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes”. Humble yourself and listen to others. A truth said by a mad person does not become false because it comes from a mad person.

4.    Emphasizing our similarities rather than differences (Eph. 4: 3-6)
The heart of promoting and maintaining excellent relationships is emphasizing our similarities rather than our differences. Ephesians 4: 3-6 says, “Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with love. We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future. There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all” (NLT). This passage brings out seven key things that we have in common and which should bind us together in excellent relationships. We are all one body (the church or the body of Christ), having the same Spirit (the Holy Spirit). We have one hope (the hope and assurance of spending eternity with Christ), one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God who is Father over all. The sad reality is that many times we major on the few things that divide us rather on these key things that bind us together. Let us emphasize the things that bind us together and not those that tear us apart or keep us away from one another.
 
Conclusion
In his priestly prayer, Christ prayed that his disciples and all believers may be one just as the Father and himself are one. He said that in this way the world would believe that the Father sent him (Jesus Christ) and that we are his disciples (John 17: 20-23). Christ has knocked down the barriers dividing people and has unified all believers in one family. Therefore let us make every effort to excel in relationships in our families, our neighborhood, in the church, and in public life. Let the cross of Christ be the focus of our unity and let the Holy Spirit control every word that proceeds from our mouths and any action that we take. Let us look beyond any barriers among us and focus on the unity we are called to enjoy. Pray that God will help you relate with others properly from now onward. If there is someone with whom you are not relating well, take time off to pray about it and to make every effort to be reconciled with him/her.

Questions
1.    What sets us apart from one another?
2.    What