Relationship Sunday, Part 1

Pastors Kent & Alli Munsey

February 10, 2019

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

“You must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”  

- 2 Peter 3:18 (NIV)

We’re all made in the image of God, but we’re all so different. The people around us make life unique and different, but all these differences are what make relationships so challenging. We have to cultivate grace for the things we don’t understand. We are empowered to walk in grace because it is something that Jesus gives us.

God’s grace dominated Paul’s thinking. Paul couldn’t think of the truth of God without the grace of God. They go together. We may think grace is just giving people a license to sin, but it’s not. It’s God’s unmerited favor given to us. When we receive God’s grace, it changes the way we do relationships. No one is beyond the reach of God’s grace.

The way the world does relationships today is so damaging: Block, Unfollow, Unfriend. God calls us to work through the hard things in relationships. When we experience a free life in Jesus, then we can freely give grace.

Jesus shows us what it looks like to give grace. Jesus did not need people to accomplish his mission on earth, yet he called 12 others to join him on his mission. He modeled what it looked like to walk in community. The disciples were different from each other and from Jesus. He welcomed the differences.

From Jesus we learn to engage past what’s comfortable for us. We don’t live to benefit ourselves, we live to love others and extend the grace of God.

Often times we want to post or like pictures of idealized relationships, but we don’t want to work out the bumps in our own relationships. We think it’s supposed to be easy, and if it’s not easy we want new people. New people don’t make relationships easier. Relationships don’t come easy, and they’re not here to serve us.

Grow in grace by learning to receive it. Paul says in Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

In order to receive grace, we have to recognize where we went wrong. Receiving grace and forgiveness from God requires humility. But when we position ourselves in a humble place, God is faithful to cover us and heal us.

Forgive yourself and see yourself as God’s child. Let his grace clean your past. Once you’ve received this amazing grace for yourself, you can’t help but extend it to others.

Because we are freely given God’s grace, in our relationships, grace should overflow. The Bible says we as believers should be known by our love for each other. We’ve received a pure love from God, and we should sow that love and grace into our marriages, families, and those that are closest to us.

The Mayo Clinic did a study on how to nurture relationships.  We’re sharing five of these strategies:

  1. Show Kindness

  2. Listen.

  3. Open up.

  4. Make yourself available.

  5. Show that you can be trusted.

In John 20:24-29, Thomas, one of the twelve disciples and closest friends of Jesus doubts him. Jesus, however, meets him where he is, and responds to his questions with kindness.

Jesus demonstrates what it means to sow grace. He shows up in the room, showing that he’s present and available for Thomas. He was showing grace to those who were most important to him. We are so important to Jesus that he makes time for us. Jesus is always present and always near us.

Jesus demonstrates that he had been listening to Thomas, and invited him to touch the scars. Jesus also hears you. An all-powerful and all-knowing God listens to you.

Intimacy can also be understood as “into me see.” It’s important to build intimacy with people. Who do you really allow to see the pain and disappointment and hurt of your past?

Jesus is not angry with Thomas or with us when we doubt or question him; he approaches us with kindness. He’s gracious.

If we’re going to have the grace of God evidenced in our life, we have to give kindness in the same measure we’ve received it. Our Lord and Savior has been kind to us. He’s not angry or harsh, and he creates a safe environment for us.

It was Jesus’ humanity that lead Thomas to his divinity. When we are kind, when we listen, when we are available, when we open up and are honest and meet people right where they’re at, we set the stage for others to receive grace from God.

Thomas wasn’t always a doubter, though that became his reputation based off this one moment. But he went on to build the kingdom, spreading the gospel. As he delivered the gospel of Jesus in India, he took spears into his chest. He wasn’t a doubter, he was a believer. He was a martyr. He would never have become the man that he was if Jesus had not continued to give and sow the grace that was absolutely necessary to continue in the relationship.

Our prayer is that you recognize the grace you’ve been given, but also that you steward it by giving it to others. Receiving grace and sowing grace sets the space for Jesus to be glorified and have his way.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. How have you seen Jesus extend grace to you in your life?

  2. Are there any areas in your life or in your heart where you need to receive God’s grace?

  3. How do you reflect God’s grace in your relationships with those who are closest to you?

  4. What steps can you take to be more intentional about showing grace to those who are close to you, and to those who have perhaps hurt you in the past?

  5. Who do you feel that God is calling you to extend grace to in this season?