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Relationships Are That Impoartantby Duane Mabee on April 26, 2017
I have been studying the Apostle Paul’s writings a lot lately and have been struck by how important close relationships are to our spiritual growth. Significant aspects of Christian maturity can only be developed and proven within the context of close, personal relationships. Attributes like patience, love, kindness, goodness, etc. cannot be developed or demonstrated in any other way, nor do they make much sense outside of the context of close relationships.
God’s design for all believers is that they will become part of the Christian community called the church. Being part of a community communicates certain privileges and responsibilities. Because of that, Paul spends a lot of time instructing believers to develop godly characteristics that lead to better relationships. These relationships become part of our sanctification process in several ways.
They motivate us to pursue godliness. We tend to get complacent and need other people, who know what is happening with us, to push us to grow in areas where we are weak. We can use our relationships with other believers to motivate them, too. Paul did. At least three times in the book of Philippians he used his relationship with the Philippians to motivate them to strive for greater holiness.
God’s glory is demonstrated through our godly relationships. He wants to demonstrate His glory to all of creation. According to Ephesians chapter 2, He has chosen to do that through His ability to reconcile sinful mankind to Himself and His ability to reconcile bitter human enemies to each other. The fact that God can form one united body out of people who formerly hated each other shouts His majesty to the universe. His glory is magnified by our unity in diversity.
Relationships also become part of our Christian maturity because they reflect the relationships within the Trinity. Relationships are central to Who God is, so part of imitating God must include imitating the relationships within the Trinity.
Relationships are part of our sanctification because they build the unity of the church, and the unity of the church is a sign to the unbelieving world around us. Paul said that our unity is a sign to unbelievers that they will be lost, but we will be saved, (Phil. 1:28). When they see us unified and loving each other in ways the world can’t produce, they understand that there is something supernatural happening among us, and that serves as notice to them that they need to be saved. Jesus also pinned His glory and our reputation on our ability to love each other.
Who knew that the way we get along with each other was so important?