Lesson 7

Lord of Our Relationships

(2 Peter 1, Ephesians 5 & 6)
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Introduction: How many of the regrets in your life have to do with fractured relationships? How much of the joy in your life comes from good relationships? This week we learn that having good relationships with others comes from spiritual growth. As we grow spiritually, we should make fewer mistakes in our relationships with others. Let's plunge into our study!

  1. Building Up to Relationships


    1. Read 2 Peter 1:1-2. Peter wishes grace and peace to those to whom he writes. What do you think he means by grace and peace? (Adam Clarke's Commentary tells us that "grace" is God's favor and "peace" is the result of God's favor manifest in our life by spiritual and physical blessings.)


      1. What effect does our relationship with others have on our peace?


    2. Read 2 Peter 1:3. How does Peter say that divine power comes to us? ("Through our knowledge of Him.")


      1. How important is faithful Bible study? (Peter seems to say that studying the Bible, which helps us to understand God better, is the conduit by which divine power comes into our life.)


    3. Read 2 Peter 1:4. "Through these," Peter says, we can "participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world." What are the "these" to which Peter refers? (Look at 2 Peter 1:3 again. He is referring to God's "own glory and goodness.")


      1. How will God's glory and goodness help our behavior? ( 2 Peter 1:3 teaches us that God's glory and goodness "called us." By learning of God's glory and goodness we are drawn to a better way of life. This what brings us to the point where we ( 2 Peter 1:4) participate in God's divine nature and escape the corruption that is around us.)


    4. Read 2 Peter 1:5. So far, Peter has sounded rather abstract in what he has been teaching us. What specifics does he give us in this verse? (He says you believe in Jesus? You want to escape the corruption of the world? Good. Try to do good things and learn more about God's way.)


    5. Read 2 Peter 1:6. If you go into a gym to do muscle training, they will take you to the various exercise machines and tell you to use each to benefit a certain part of your body or aspect of your health. Does Peter have a similar approach? (It sure seems that way.)


      1. Can our Christian life be improved by focusing on certain aspects of our character - and doing a little "character muscle training?"


        1. How is this compatible with righteousness by faith? (Notice that Peter started his list (2 Peter 1:5) with faith. In building up to this point, Peter told us that knowledge gave us "divine power." ( 2 Peter 1:3). We start with righteousness by faith, but then by knowing God better, we understand the areas of our life which need a "work-out.")


      2. Okay. You go first to your spiritual exercise machine that develops self-control, then the machine for perseverance and then the machine for godliness. How would you do this, as a practical matter? (If we review 2 Peter 1:3-5 Peter stresses knowledge of God and the promises of God which will help us to "participate in the divine nature." Bible study and the Holy Spirit alert us to the problems in our lives in the areas of self-control, perseverance and godliness. We then rely on the promises of God to help us "add" these qualities to our life.)


    6. Read 2 Peter 1:7. What are the last things to be added to our Christian life? (Brotherly kindness and love.)


      1. What impact do brotherly kindness and love have on good relationships? (They should be the key to good relationships.)


      2. Our lesson this week is about making God the Lord of our relationships. Is Peter saying that it a long road to having the right Christian relationship with others? Some important character traits are required? (Yes, I think so.)


        1. If we understand Peter correctly, why are proper relationships ("brotherly kindness" and "love) at the end of this list? (For example, self-control is critical to having a proper relationship with others. Just looking and working on these various aspects of our character should make us more tolerant and loving towards those who have not yet "seen the light" on self-control, perseverance and godliness.)


    7. Read 2 Peter 1:8. Are you despairing? Will we be able to have proper relationships with others only when we are mature Christians? (It is a long road, but we should not say, "I cannot have proper relationships because I'm not yet a mature Christian." Although Peter tells us to "add" ( 2 Peter 1:5) each of these qualities to the one before it, 2 Peter 1:8 refers to possessing each of these qualities "in increasing measure." We should not only partner with the Holy Spirit to add the character traits we lack, but we should also strive to build all of these traits at once. Brotherly kindness and love should be a goal from day one. In our spiritual gym, we should be working on all of these "spiritual muscle groups.")


  2. Marriage Relationships


    1. Read Genesis 2:24. What does it mean for a "man to leave his father and mother?"


      1. Does this only apply to the man? Should the woman leave her father and mother too? (The result is "one flesh," therefore logically, she should leave too.)


      2. Would "leaving," refer to geography, relationships or both? (Marriage is not like foot-ball or "tag-team" wrestling. It is not a team sport. The newly-wed man and woman should live by themselves and reconcile their differences without the "assistance" of members of the family "team." If the problems are faced by the couple "one on one," then they are both motivated to compromise. But, if "mom" or "dad" join the dispute on the side of their "child," the child will have no reason to compromise and the other spouse (now outnumbered) will become bitter. Love your parents, but toss them out of your disputes.)


    2. Read Ephesians 5:28. Is this just advice for men? Is this just advice for marriage? ("He who loves his wife loves himself" is one of the most important divine insights in the Bible. This is the kind of knowledge which Peter told us gives us divine power. Showing kindness and love should begin with your spouse, continue with the family and extend to those around you. If you are harsh and selfish with your spouse, you will get that back. If you are kind and loving to your spouse, you will get that back.)


  3. Family Relationships


    1. Read Ephesians 6:1-3. Is this an instruction to obey all parents? ("Parents" has an important modifier: "in the Lord." This assumes the possibility of ungodly parents and godly children. In that situation, if the parent is giving commands which contradict God's commands, obedience is not required.)


      1. Why would obedient children live longer and have better lives than disobedient children? (The parents described here have two important advantages in life. First, they have an understanding of God's will. Second, they have the benefit of experience. Since godly parents love their children, they will give them directions that are intended to make their children's lives better.)


        1. Have you seen the truth of this text played out in the lives of others? (I see this all the time. The obedient child has a better, less stressful life.)


    2. Read Ephesians 6:4. What obligation is placed upon parents? (To teach and model God's will.)


      1. How could godly parents exasperate their children? (By going beyond the will of God. Deuteronomy 4:2 is one example where God tells His followers not to add or subtract from God's commands. Parents need to teach all of God's instructions to their children, but should not try to represent their own preferences as God's requirements.)


  4. Community Relationships


    1. Read Deuteronomy 5:21 and Deuteronomy 23:25. What do these texts teach us about private property rights within the community?


    2. Read Acts 2:41-45. How did the early Christians treat private property?

    1. Is there a common thread that can be traced between the texts in Deuteronomy and the actions recorded in Acts? (The poor have no personal claim on the goods of the rich. However, a converted heart holds goods "lightly.")


    2. Friend, we have learned that if you want to improve your relationships with others, you have to improve your knowledge and relationship with God. Will you commit to daily study of God's word?


  1. Next week: Lord of Our Resources.

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