What have we asked you to do? We asked you to deal with reality. Be aware of your emotions because they are real. Look at your extended family because who you are has been shaped in large part by your family. When you hit the wall and go splat in life, cause you will, you need to know what is going on and how to give your life to Christ. When you feel the limits of your life, like your dreams are slowly dying, make the choice to allow those moments to grow you. Last week, probably the most life changing thing God ever asked of us: rest. Sabbath, a day of rest is a gift from God to us. Just quick time out, think about that for a second. God wants us to rest and have fun. Sam talked about how to create a life around Sabbath and daily rhythms. If we don’t, we will do violence to your soul. Those five subjects together, will transform your life if you engage them.

So how do you know if you are growing up in God? How do you know if you are being transformed? What is the test to know? One-word answer: relationships. Scripture makes it clear.

If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever. TLB 1 Corinthians 13:3

The point of being a disciple of Jesus is love. It’s about how you treat others. You can be an amazing person, accomplish a lot of things, build big things, you can give and serve, be a great leader and all of it means absolutely, nothing; if you can’t love others. The test of how spiritual you are; shows up in the reality of how you treat people. The true test of our heart’s transformation is in relationships.

Let’s read a quick story,

36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, ” ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’   38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   40 All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” NLT Matthew 22:36-40

Do you see what Jesus said? There is a connection, a link. Loving God and loving people are the two most important foundational commands of scripture.   You cannot say that you are committed to loving God and at the same time, live in a way where you don’t get along with people. Both are necessary to be an emotionally healthy spiritual adult.

Do you see the importance of relationships? Only in the context of real relationships do you discover how spiritual you are. They reveal how close to God you are. They reveal who you are. And only in relationships do you learn how to love others the way God loved you. This is why marriage is so important. This is why family is so important. This is why dating is important. This is why school, tests, homework are so important.   This is why work and church are so important. Only in relationships, do you discover who you are.

Scripture puts it like this.,

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 3 You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. 4 So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. MSG James 1:2-4

Tests and challenges here address struggles and that includes relationships. That means that in the reality of relationships, all the stress, tests and challenges, what is on the inside of us is squeezed out. So when someone hurts you or betrays you, how do you respond? When someone celebrates and cares for you, how do you respond? Let’s stop and ask a few questions.

How do you treat your spouse? Your family? Your parents? Your kids?

How do you treat your boss? Those you work with? Those who work for you?

How do you treat kids at school? The ones who aren’t relevant like you? The ones who pick on you?

How do you treat your pastor? Those you go to church with?

How do you treat your kid’s teachers and their coaches?

Only in the reality of relationships do you discover who you really are. You will also discover your emotional health. Let’s go a little deeper. Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who always has to win? Have you ever been in a group of people and one of them is always a victim? Relationships also reveal our emotional health.

Ask yourself these questions.

In relationships, do I look for others to take care of me? Do I have great difficulty entering into the world of others? Am I driven by need for instant gratification? This kind of living reveals that we are emotional infants.

In relationships, am I only content and happy as long as I receive what I want? Am I easily hurt? Do I complain, withdraw, manipulate, take revenge, become sarcastic if I don’t get my way? Am I hot and cold? Do I just leave relationships without talking? This kind of living reveals that we are emotional children.

In relationships, do I keep score of what others give so I can ask for something later in return? Deal with conflict poorly, often blaming, appeasing, going to a third party, pouting, or ignoring the issue entirely? Am I critical and judgmental – that means I see what’s wrong all the time. This kind of living reveals that we are emotional adolescents.

In relationships, can I respect others without having to change or control them? Can I appreciate people for who they are – the good, bad, and ugly – not for what they give back? Can I accurately assess my own limits, strengths, and weaknesses and freely discuss them with others? This kind of living reveals that we are emotional adults.

The reality of relationships reveal who we are. It reveals our true heart condition. So today, we want to give you one of the greatest principles Jesus taught. It is the best way to help us grow up from being an infant to an adult emotionally. This is what Jesus taught.

Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. MSG Matthew 7:12

Invite kids up. Invite all kids up and give them a 3×5 index card. Everyone watch a video from Youtube. Did you see how everyone in that video had a sentence that explained what was going on in their life? Everyone you walk by at school and home and church, has a sentence too. They have a story. You have a story. Write on your card how you are feeling right now.

Jesus taught. Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. MSG Matthew 7:12

One of the worst thing we could do with our family, kids in school, people at church is to walk by them is assume they are okay and ignore them. Jesus told us not to live like that. He taught us to ask ourselves, “How do I want others to treat me?”

How do you want people to treat you? Do you want your friends to walk by you and assume everything is okay and ignore you? Do you want your friends to stop and listen to your story?

The best thing we could do; when the timing is right, is stop and listen to their story. That is what Jesus was teaching. And of course, it’s bigger than that. We can also shovel snow for a neighbor. We can do our chores before mom askes us. This week, think, everyone you pass, they have a story.

It is in relationships where we discover who we are spiritually. That is why the bible is loaded with practical teachings on how to deal with people. Quick questions answered by scripture.

If I am a disciple of Christ, how do I treat people?

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – 2 then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. 3 Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. 4 Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. MSG Philippians 2:1-4

How do I treat someone who I would call my enemy?

43 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ 44 I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, 45 for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.

46 If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. 47 If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. 48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. MSG Matthew 5:43-48

How do I treat people I go to church with?

Here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk – better yet, run! – on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. 2 And mark that you do this with humility and discipline – not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, 3 alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. MSG Ephesians 4:1-3

What does Jesus say about working in an organization?

42 Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. 43 It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. 44 Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. 45 That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served – and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.” MSG Mark 10:42-45

How do I treat my spiritual leaders?

17 Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them? MSG Hebrews 13:17

How do we volunteer?

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us… 3 Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. 4 Our work as God’s servants gets validated – or not – in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; 5 when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; 6 with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; 7 when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; 8 when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; 9 ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; 10 immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all. MSG 2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Relationships reveal who we are. You need to ask yourself some questions. How do I treat people? Do I need to make some changes?