02/14/10 The Four Pillars of a Relationship

Posted by Steve Siegrist on Friday, February 12, 2010 Under: Sermon

Text: Colossians 3:12-13 (HCSB)
  
“Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, HCSB)   


Intro: The basics of a relationship are like the pillars or foundation stones of a house. All must be strong. If you try to make up for one weak pillar by strengthening another, the whole structure will be out of balance.
If someone were to ask you the question, "What are the factors necessary for a lasting relationship?" what would you say? What foundation stones or "pillars" are essential for strong relationships?  

Think about it. What if you had to limit them to just four factors? There are actually many, but what is needed in any relationship, especially a lifelong marriage, are the following: love, trust, respect and understanding.

The most lasting of these is love. Paul indicated this when he said that faith, hope and love "abide" or remain, but that "the greatest of these is love". He also said: Colossians 3:12-13  

The most fragile of these four pillars is trust. The most neglected one is respect or honor.  

The one that takes the longest to develop is understanding or knowledge.  
These are like four pillars of a house.   

Each of these pillars must be nurtured. If one is weak you can't make up for the lack in that area by adding to another. Love won't make up for mistrust, nor understanding for disrespect. Look at what happens. This house tilts! There's no balance.  


1. The Pillar of Love:  Greek word: ag – ah – pay  

This pillar has several important characteristics for it to be a strong support:  

A. Safety and Security.  

You want to feel safe and secure in your relationship. You want to be able to breathe a sigh of relief and say, "It's nice to relax with someone, let down the protective armor and be myself." This is the characteristic we enjoy so much in friendship-love. And if this dimension of love is present in a marriage, it's an indication that there's hope for the relationship.  

B. Support.  

People want and need to feel supported by those who care for them.  

A supportive relationship helps you know you're not facing the world alone. You can depend on others to stand with you in difficult times, even when they don't necessarily agree with your stand. Do you have some supportive persons in your life? Who are they? Do they include the person you're interested in as a possible spouse?  

A supportive person is not only needed during difficult times, but also during good times. When you support others, you encourage them, help them dream and grow, even to the point that they exceed your own level of growth or ability. You use your strengths, capabilities and skills to lift the other person above yourself. This is sometimes particularly hard for men. Can you handle this? This is an important way for your love to be reflected in a relationship. There will be times when you need support, and times when you need to give it.  

C. Sense of Belonging.  

Every one of us knows the pain of being excluded or rejected. We all have a built-in, God-given need for a sense of belonging that comes from being included by others. It makes you feel significant because someone else has opened his or her own private world to you. It's easy to get along with those who accept you, open their hearts to you and include you in their lives. Who do you have in your life who communicates to you a sense of belonging like this?  

D. Care.  

We all need somebody to care about us and nurture us. When you nurture someone, you invite him or her to take a special place in your heart. You express your care through words as well as through your deeds. When you really care about someone, you are willing to move out of your comfort zone for that person's benefit. It's almost impossible not to connect with someone who cares enough about you to make such a move.   

C. Acceptance.  

I want to be accepted by others. So do you. When we accept others for who they are, we free them from the pressure of being molded into the persons we want them to be. When you accept others, you become compatible with them and get along with them.  


2. The Pillar of Trust:  

When it comes to trust, a sign should be hung over it saying, "Handle with Care." Some people find it easy to trust, while others find it very difficult 

Trust is making yourself dependent upon another person for some result or outcome. It's a healthy dependency. You can't be forced into it. It's a voluntary response. It's an attitude, and it has three parts

First, you believe in your mind that the other person is trustworthy. Can you list several people in your life at the present time whom you believe to be trustworthy? Why do you believe this?  

Second, there is an emotional response in trust. You feel assurance or confidence in trusting the other person. Who comes to mind here?  


Finally, your behavior has to come into play when you act on the trust you perceive. 

Trust is when you're in the water and a friend reaches down his hand to pull you out and you reach up and grasp it. You don't hesitate or debate whether he really wants to rescue you. You believe. You feel confident. You reach out.  

But there is a risk in trust. The other person could let you down. Although all life involves some risk, loving makes you especially vulnerable. In fact, you can't be in a loving relationship unless you're willing to run the risk of being hurt. How do you know if you really trust the other person or not? You don't have a backup plan in case the other person lets you down. You don't have a plan "B" in case he or she fails you.  

I've seen the subtle ways trust is undermined in marriages. For example, a person says he will do something but his partner calls him or leaves reminder notes to be sure he does it, or even calls a store to check on him.  

Yes, it's true. When you trust, you're vulnerable.  

When two people in a relationship have mutual trust, they are sending messages to one another. 

They are saying, "I have confidence in you."  
They are saying, "I will be here for you when no one else is."  
They are saying, "You can depend on me for little and large things."
They are saying, "I will be consistent, not changeable or impulsive."
They are saying, "You can depend on me to speak the truth." 

So the question is this: If you are in a relationship, to what degree is that person trustworthy? And yes, the next question is, Are you a person of trust?  


3. The Pillar of Respect:  

A third foundation for a relationship — respect or honor — is the most neglected.  

Throughout Scripture we are told to honor one another. Have you been honored or respected by others? If so, you know what this concept means. It must occur between partners in a significant relationship.   Basically, respect is recognizing and acknowledging the other person's worth or value. Significantly, this requires that you honor and respect yourself; for if you don't respect yourself how can you give respect to someone else?  

Do you understand the extent of your own value and worth? It's nothing you earn; it's been given to you by God. 

Let's remember how God sees us. He doesn't compare you with the other people He has created. He has given you your own capabilities and potential. He expects you to develop and use only what He has given you, not what He has given someone else. He wants you to develop and use what you have so you won't miss out on life. You are God's workmanship:
Ephesians 2:10 (HCSB)  

Jesus Christ invites us to come to Him by faith, believing that He will accept us as we are into His family:  If God and Jesus Christ are with us at all times, we need not feel inferior or inadequate. God is our source of adequacy. We can love ourselves without pangs of guilt. We can love ourselves without having to defend our actions.  You have value. But so does the person you're interested in. The higher the value of something, the greater the care and attention we pay to it. A $1,000 diamond does not have the same level of protection and security as a $10-million-dollar gem. Your value? And everyone else's? Simply this: 
John 3:16

How to Show Respect  

How do we honor and respect another person? There are several simple steps:  

You show acceptance. You give recognition. 

You give affirmation and encouragement. You believe in others, and you look for ways to build them up. You're a cheerleader, believing in them even when they don't believe in themselves. You don't take for granted what they do or who they are. Paul counsels, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."  1 Thessaolians 5:11  

You give appreciation. You give admiration 

All these ways of showing respect are communicated by what you say and what you don't say to each other, as well as by your nonverbal communication and by just being there for that person.  

4. The Pillar of Understanding:  

The fourth essential element of a close relationship — and the one that is so often short-circuited — is understanding.  The first three elements are dependent upon this one. Understanding only develops over time. It's based on knowledge. You understand others by getting inside of them and seeing life from their perspective, through their eyes. It involves a tremendous amount of communication — of asking, sharing and listening.  

Your partner will never understand you unless you reveal yourself. Nor will you ever understand another unless he or she is open with you. What is revealed is based on trust, which is based on how well you know one another, which is based on what is revealed.  

The Risk of Relationship  

All these pillars or foundation stones of close relationships involve an ingredient called risk. Neither love, nor trust, nor respect, nor understanding will lead to a loving relationship unless both partners are willing to risk being vulnerable. 

So everything boils down to being willing to risk. This is the foundation and the basis of all relationships. Through this you can discover who is best for you and who isn't — always keeping in mind the spiritual dimension.  

Since relationships are risky, the choice to have a meaningful, lasting connection with a significant other may not be an easy choice. However, the rewards of an intimate relationship make it one of the greatest choices you will ever make.

In : Sermon 


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