Thursday, February 26, 2009

Friendlationships - Part 2

This second installment of our small group curriculum focusing on friendship gives us insight on how to avoid toxic relationships. 

Big Idea:
Relationships are a gift from God, but when they go sideways things can become painful and toxic. However, dealing with toxic relationships in our own strength and wisdom will typically almost always make things worse. This is why we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the patience and love of Christ, and the grace of God.  

Relationship with others is one of the most powerful forces in the universe outside of God. They can bring us indescribable joy or unbelievable despair. They can make us whole or fragment our souls. They hold the potential to coach us into destiny or restrain us from our life’s purpose. When ruled by selfish desires, relationships are the greatest challenge you will encounter in life, but when governed by the Word of God, relationships are a treasured joy in life. The relationships that affect us the most are the ones that are closest to us. When these are toxic, they can have a significant affect on us emotionally and ultimately spiritually.

The world teaches us to think of ourselves as victims when we find ourselves in a toxic relationship and to dismiss those who don’t enhance our lives. However, Jesus taught us to love the unlovely and the unlovable. The way of the kingdom is to draw on God’s grace, take a stand, and speak the truth in love. That means confronting issues, situations, and people who put us in bondage and pain because God’s Word clearly shows us that people can change and relationships can be redeemed for the glory of God. Here are 5 simple steps to detoxify your relationships: (1) Confrontation. As long as you ignore the situation, it will not change. Own up to your share of the mess and approach your friend in love. (2)  Grab More Grace. Be grounded in your identity as one who is loved by God and be filled with the power of Jesus Christ that has redeemed. (3) Build Righteous Boundaries but don’t let these boundaries be rooted in selfishness. Begin to shape your life by making Godly choices. Do not allow your friends to keep you from doing what’s right. (4) Forgive the Offender. This is not optional. ’t live in a self made prison of unforgiveness because you could not forgive. (5) Give Change a Chance. Don’t abandon a relationship before you’ve made all the changes you need to make.

Discussion Questions: (read the scriptures & discuss)

Luke 6:39-42
What does this statement from Jesus indicate should be our first step in the process of detoxifying a relationship? Is Jesus advocating mean-spirited rebuke of your toxic friends? Discuss ways in which we can lovingly help remove the speck from our brother’s eye. 

Luke 17:3-5 & Matthew 6:14-15
Why do you think the apostles responded the way they did when Jesus told them to forgive over and over again? How does your willingness to forgive affect your relationship with God? Discuss how forgiveness has been instrumental in detoxifying one of your relationships.

Ephesians 4:15 & Romans 15:5
Why is love and patience so important in a relationship? How has someone spoken the truth to you in love? Have you seen relationships end because of a lack of patience? Discuss how can we be patient and loving without being a doormat for abuse? How does the character of Christ encourage us in this area of relationships? 

Taking Action: Examine your toxic relationships, but before you approach your friend, make sure your heart is right and that you have dealt with any of the toxin that you might be bringing into the relationship. Daily ask God to create in you a clean heart and to give you the grace to be patient with others. Pray for your friends and your relationships. Lay them at the feet of God.  

Ministry Time

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