Secrets Of Quality Relationships (Rom 1:8-15)

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Pastor Mark Mikels – October 25, 2009
“SECRETS OF QUALITY RELATIONSHIPS”
(Romans 1:8-15)

Intro … This morning, as we take the second big step on our journey through the New Testament Book of Romans, I would draw your attention to Today’s Key Focus …

Today’s Key Focus …
The DIFFICULTY many people have DEVELOPING
and MAINTAINING quality relationships.

Some people have trouble “connecting with people” – their challenge is on the “developing” side of things; other people have trouble “keeping connected” – their challenge is on the “maintaining” side.

Still others of us can “shoot ourselves in the foot” on both sides of the issue. We have trouble developing relationships with people and we have trouble maintaining the few that we have at any quality level.

Perhaps neither of them is a problem for you but it is a problem for many and since the Christian Life (at its very heart) is a “relational life”, then overcoming this difficulty is an incredibly important thing to do.

In verses 8-15 in Romans chapter one, Paul demonstrates for us Four Key “Relational Elements” that are incredibly helpful in the process of “building
and maintaining quality relationships” … particularly relationships within the
Body of Christ.

We might even call them (as our sermon title does this morning) “Secrets Of Quality Relationships”.

Now keep in mind that Paul wrote these words to a church where he had never been and to a body of believers that he had never met.

Though he knew a few of the saints in Rome, he did not know most of them … They knew of Paul by reputation though they did not know him personally.

How effective would a letter from a virtual stranger be – How open and receptive would their hearts be to him?

How could he express himself (introduce himself) so as to cause them to feel personally connected and thus eager not only to hear what he had to say but eager to finally meet him some day?

These opening verses carried a heavy burden …

I believe God enabled Paul’s words to carry that burden incredibly successfully. Those carefully chosen, God-enabled words allowed Paul to quickly develop the kind of quality relationship with the believers in Rome that readied their hearts for the tremendous truths that were to follow.

Now let’s look at the passage together and you see if you can pick out those four key relational elements – the four secrets of quality relationships – as I read … (Romans 1:8-15)

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.

What a masterful introduction of himself to them!
Did those key elements jump out at you?
These are the key elements that enabled Paul to immediately connect with the believers in Rome and are the key elements that will enable us to “develop” and “maintain” quality relationships in our lives … particularly in our church and in our home.

Well then – here they are …

1. APPRECIATION … (Admiration)
“I THANK my God … for you all.”
(Romans 1:8)

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you,
because your faith is being reported all over the world.

What a starting point for building a relationship with someone – expressing appreciation (admiration even) for who they are or for what they have accomplished.

What a powerful affirmation … to say “I thank God for you”. What an incredible way to introduce yourself to someone that you have been admiring.

“Hi, my name is Mark and I want you to know that I thank God for the way you so faithfully attend this church. I’ve been coming three months now and you have been here every week and your faithfulness has been a great encouragement to me.”

“Hi, my name is Mark and I want you to know that I thank God for you and the way you are raising your children. It encourages me greatly to see families in church and especially families like yours that seem to be so delighted to be here.”

To the saints in Rome, Paul was letting them know that their faith in Christ was being noticed … it was no small deal that a body of believers had been raised up (as it were) right under the nose of the Emperor.

If I could paraphrase or amplify his words a bit …

“I thank God that you have established a witness for Christ
right there in Rome and all of us throughout the world are
encouraged and motivated by it.”

Appreciation (Admiration/Affirmation) is a powerful first step in building and then maintaining a quality personal relationship.

Verse nine reveals the second key element – the second “secret” of a quality relationship …

2. CONTINUATION …
“God … is my witness how CONSTANTLY I remember you all.”
(Romans 1:9)

Quality Relationships are built upon consistency …

Paul says, “Ask God” … He knows that I pray for you all the time – He knows
that I have you on my mind constantly.

We are all familiar with the man who invests himself heavily in winning a wife and then once he has won her, he virtually ignores her. Continuation of the things that began the relationship is crucial.

Now since Paul wasn’t physically present with them, he expressed his continuing concern through prayer … I could have easily called this second secret … “Intercession”.

You could try it yourself … choose one person with whom you would like to develop a quality relationship or someone with whom a relationship needs to be improved and “pray for them for seven days straight” …

Be sure that you pray “prayers of appreciation and admiration” … “Thank God for them – for specific admirable things about them.”

See what happens both in your heart and theirs. Then Continue to pray for them and to think fondly of them daily. Continuation is a key element.

Now it almost automatically follows when we genuinely appreciate someone and share that appreciation and when we faithfully continue our interest and intercession for someone that we develop in our hearts real feelings of …

3. ANTICIPATION …
“I LONG to see you so … you and I may be mutually ENCOURAGED.”
(Romans 1:11-12)

“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

Paul basically says … “I’m dying to see you.” I know that our getting together would be good for both of us. I want to be a blessing to you and I know that just being with you would be a blessing to me.

It’s like they had been internet chatting and are at last arranging a meeting.
Paul was excited to think about it.

Husbands and wives … is that how you think about each other when you are apart from each other? Is that how you think about your children as they return home from school or when you finally see them after work? Do you feel that sense of anticipation as you head to church or cell group? Do you find yourself regularly saying …
“I can’t wait to see them again?”

Oh, how good it is when positive anticipation draws us together!

And now for the fourth and final secret … the four and final key element of a quality relationship that I find in this introductory passage. I’m calling it exactly what Paul called it …

4. OBLIGATION …
“I am OBLIGATED … that’s why I am so EAGER to preach … to you.”
(Romans 1:14-15)

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.
That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.

Essentially Paul is saying …
“My life and gifts belong to you –
I am eager to bring to you what is yours.”

Oh how different this is to the way that many people look at relationships …
How many people view relationships as the means to receive things that they don’t already have.

“He will be good for me; she will complete me”;
these people make me feel good, I like being around them.”

So many people (in fact, most all those people who have trouble developing and maintaining relationships) approach relationships with their hands out – hoping to get something that will make their lives better.

Paul recognized that, though relationships can be and should be mutually beneficial, the key motivation behind them is that every Christian possesses something that others desperately need.

In a nutshell, we possess the life of Christ (the truth of Christ and the grace of Christ) and in one way or another every single person with whom we have or would have a relationship needs some of it.

We are under obligation to deliver to them what they need – to bring to them every day something of the transforming love of Christ that has transformed us!

Four secrets – four key elements – of quality relationships found right here in Paul’s introductory words to the saints in Rome …

Appreciation – Continuation – Anticipation – Obligation

May God use them to help us develop and maintain quality relationships for His Glory and ultimately for our Good!

Final Thot … The ultimate secret to a quality relationship is ONE
PERSON completely committed to doing things GOD’S WAY.

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