Skip Navigation Links

Your Christian relationship with God, family and fellowman

   By Steve Martin Page 1 Matthew 24:14 19??

I believe that it's good for all of us to take a look at ourselves now and then, to be a little reflective, to look inward, and ask ourselves how we're doing as Christians in our relationships with God, family and fellowman.

Where do you stand in your relationship with God?

James 2:23 tells us, "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God."

Now if I could say I'm a friend of President Carter or if you could say you're a friend of whoever it is in society you'd like to identify with that might make you feel good. But how about having it said of you, "You are a friend of God"? Now to me, that's something for me to frame.

There were many people in the Bible who had this relationship — Noah did. In Genesis 6:9 we find, "These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." Noah had a relationship with God that I find rather enviable. And it's this type of relationship that I believe we as Christians need to strive for.

Let's look at a few more relationships. Acts 13:22 is talking about the relationship David had with God. " . . . he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony and said, I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will." This is another way of saying he was a friend of God; it's another way of saying he walked with God; it's another way of saying he had a special relationship with God.

Ezekiel 14 mentions that Noah, Daniel and Job all had special relationships with God, relationships that I believe we need to strive for, to be working after, to be putting our minds to.


The Quest for Every Christian

Now I ask the question, "What is it about these men; why did they have-this- special relationship?" In asking that question, I believe I can show you how to have the same type of relationship. Hebrews 11:6 — I believe this is the answer, and this is also the quest, the quest for every Christian who is striving for salvation — "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Diligently can be translated "crave, demand, search out, struggle for."

When a man really puts himself to the task of finding God, of building a relationship with God, then God will be found, God will be there. But until there's real zeal and real diligence, then we're just playing around with the issue.

In Isaiah 55:6, God says, "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call you upon him while he is near."

Revelation 3:20 tells us, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." The point is that Christ doesn't break down the door. He's standing right outside. And He's waiting for you to take the initiative and to take the step. You search for Him and invite Him in.

Now in struggling for this relationship with God, what can we do about it; how can we find it; how can we make it a little more realistic?

I Peter 5:7 tells us, "Casting all your care upon him: for you are his personal concern" (Phillip's translation). Each and every one of us is God's concern. He tells us that we should come to Him and talk to Him about everything. I think this is backed up in Ephesians 6:18, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." Now the point I want to bring out, as it says in verse 18, is pray always.

Sometimes I wonder if too many of us haven't developed an attitude where the big problems we take to God and the little ones we worry about, instead of taking everything to God. It says in Colossians 3:17, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." In other words, there's a constant interaction with God about everything.

James 4:13 teaches us what relationship we should have to God. "Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away. For that you ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this, or that."

We should be so close to God we realize that without God's favor, without God's blessing, without His protection, we will not be given the opportunity to do what we could plan for. And I think we ought to have such a relationship with God that everything depends upon Him. When everything depends upon God, maybe it can be said of us that we are friends of God; maybe it could be said of us that we walked with God; or maybe it could be said of us that when God deals with us, He deals with us in a special way. These are really important issues.

In Jeremiah 29:13, God says, "And ye shall seek me, and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart." When you put out the effort, when you struggle, when you go on a personal quest for God, when you want to be known as a friend of God, then God will be found of you.

Matthew 22:36 I think, sums this up so very eloquently. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and- with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." That's really where it's at. That's the Christian doing his thing. That is the greatest quest we've been given on this earth.


Your Family Relationship

Next let's look at the family relationship — if you're married, your relationship with your mate and your children; if you're not married, your relationship with your parents. How are your relationships doing?

Let's just look a moment at the relationship of marriage.

It says in Colossians 3:18, "Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord." I don't believe this business of slavery that some people do. I also don't believe in this business of what some people have called a parasitic relationship where the husband saps the strength, the personality, the life, the energy of the wife. I believe that the wife is a separate entity and that two people, when they get married, can live a happy existence if they mutually benefit one another. But I also believe, just as God says, that the husband is head of the wife.

Verse 19 says, "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them." Don't speak down to your mate; don't pick away at him or her; don't be sarcastic; don't use language that would offend anybody. Uplift, edify.

And then it goes on and says, "Children, obey your parents in all things for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."

There's a time for discipline but you'd better give love and explanation at the same time. You have to put it all together — instruction, explanation, love and discipline.

Ephesians 5:21 expands on the true relationship in marriage — "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." Now in a true relationship, a true marriage, you both submit one to another. And yet one has to have the authority, one has to have the final say so. And God has created it so that the male should be the one.

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church."

If you're going to go into marriage and you're going to ask God to be in your marriage, then you also have to understand that you are asking the husband to be the head, just as Christ is the head of the Church.

Verse 24: "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be unto their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives." It says in verse 28, "So ought men to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself."


Your Relationship With Each Other

The final relationship I'd like to analyze and ask you to think about is your relationship with your fellowman. The whole law is summed up in two concepts: your relationship with God and your relationship with your fellowman.

Matthew 22, where we read the great commandments, says very eloquently, verse 39, "And the second is like unto it [like unto the concept of loving God with all your heart, mind and soul], Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." A Christian must adore, love and worship God, and love his fellowman as himself. Don't worship your fellowman; but you must love your fellowman as yourself. And as it says in verse 40, "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." This is the guts of Christianity; this is where it all starts and it all ends.

Over in I John 4:20-21, it says, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? This commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God loveth his brother also."

In I John 3:14, John uses some very strong language. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." We know we have attained salvation, is what he's saying, because we have love for everybody, whether they're in the Church or not. We have to love all people.

"He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."

What it's saying is that when you see hate coming into your mind, into your attitude, there ought to be danger signals going off all over the place. Your Christianity ought to be on edge and you ought to say, "Whoops, I'm in trouble," because hate results in death. Hate is equal to murder. And God will not have hatred in His kingdom. Hate and malice have got to be exorcised from a Christian's mind.

Verse 16, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us." Any man who contemplates the sacrifice of Christ and understands it and weighs it all up — who believes it happened and thinks about it enough to know that it was real — has got to see God's love in it.

Once we perceive the love of God as He laid down His life for us, we ought to figuratively lay down our lives for the brethren. We ought to be willing to serve people at our own expense; we ought to be willing to go out of our way continually for people. We should be willing to be taken advantage of. And yet in today's sophisticated world, unfortunately, we have shut ourselves off from the inconvenience. We have put gates around us so that when people would want to inconvenience us, when people would want our help, we've got all sorts of barriers so that people can't get to us.

And that, of course makes us feel a little better. But it certainly is not a matter of laying down your life for the brethren.

Verse 17, "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion [and the bowels are simply the seat of the emotions — that means you turn off the spigot of feeling] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." You can't love just with your mouth: you have to love with your actions. Love is an outgoing concern. Love is action, and when you take that action you demonstrate love.

It says in I Corinthians 12:25 "That there should be no schism [division] in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it."

If you feel with other people when they hurt, you are a Christian. And if you have no feeling whatsoever, if you couldn't care less about other people, if you sit back with total complacency, then you're in deep trouble.

The same principle holds true when one member is honored. When one member is put on a pedestal, what happens? Do you rejoice? Are you glad or do you feel envy? Do you feel a little twinge of jealousy? Now a little twinge of jealousy is normal because we're still human. But is there any gladness there? If there is, there's a measure of Christianity in you and the degree that you feel happy for someone else's success is the degree that you're a Christian.


A Simple Test

You can measure your Christianity in I Corinthians 13 because it talks about love, the greatest gift a Christian can have, and outlines what love is. "Love suffers long. Love is kind; love envies not." And Paul goes on and gives 16 different qualities of love, 16 measures of love. I believe it behooves us all to in the privacy of our own room before God as we read our Bible and pray, look at these qualities and say, "Okay, how do I do when it comes to suffering long? How am I when it comes to kindness? How am I when it comes to envying not?" and more importantly, "Have I progressed in these attitudes as the years have gone by, or have I slipped backwards?" Study and meditate on these scriptures which help you take your spiritual inventory.

We've been given talents, as it says in Matthew 25. Some have been given 5, some 2, some 1. And what we do with those talents is going to determine the reward we get in God's kingdom. When it came to singling out the sheep from the goats, Christ really praised the sheep, who were put on His right hand, and He says in verse 34, "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in: naked and ye clothed me: sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me."

How are you doing? It's time to think; it's time to reflect.

What really counts with God is your relationship with Him, your relationship with your family, and your relationship with your fellowman. And if you're all right in those areas, then you're a Christian.