MTS2 Session Six: To Love Intentionally

MTS-2

Bar Montenegro

October 2009

Session Six Why Am I Here?

To Love Intentionally How Do I Give Myself Away? Colossians 3:5-14

Session Intro:

There is one certainty in our work in missions – we need one another! For support, for encouragement, for redirection and correction, we depend on each other. None of us can do this by ourselves. It’s a God-sized Redemption Story He has called us to be a part of in sharing it; and we need His Spirit and we need His people to accomplish it. He wants us to work together in a relationship of serving and loving one another, and Rick will talk about how to go deeper in grace toward one another in our work in a few minutes.

Maybe defining the terms will help? Why am I here? To love intentionally. What does that mean? We are all still working on that “unconditional love” thing we talked about earlier. But intentionally? That means we make choices, plans, build into our schedules, work into our habits – acts of love toward our team mates, our church family, our friends and family, and those we are reaching out to. We make it … intentional.

And what is this about “giving yourself away.” You give yourself away each time your serve, you pour out the good stuff God has put inside you, each time you surrender a right or make room for someone else to shine. Giving yourself away is what we do when we live like Jesus – He came to serve and not be served. We give up to gain; we die to live; we are planted here in our new environment so we can bear much fruit. We give ourselves away; and he pours so much back in!

Teaching Intro:

Yesterday we defined grace as what? Yes, you can look at your notes… excellent. Blessing, favor, support, undeserved – it’s a gift.

A practical working out of grace is seen in the Fruit of the Spirit. Can anyone list these for me?

The ancients and Church Fathers called the Fruit of the Spirit the “grace-fruit”

• Love…putting others first

• Joy…being happy in another person’s success

• Peace…knowing you have clear relationships

• Patience…giving time for growth

• Kindness…listening & responding unselfishly

• Goodness…serving & acting for others

• Faithfulness…available to others

• Gentleness…strong but controlled toward others

• Self-controlled…reserving words and actions that might harm

Teaching:

God calls us to walk in grace, to grow in grace, Colossians 2:6 says: “Just as you have received the Lord Jesus, so walk in Him.” It starts with grace and we lived by grace from that day forward. In our relationships on our team, and in our churches, and those we serve, we can grow in grace. If God wants us to grow in this attitude of grace, where do we start? How does it begin?

1. Forgiveness Grace — Grace toward one another when differences happen. We get angry, forget to tell someone something, get left out of a discussion or decision, or say the wrong word. And get hurt, or hurt someone. To be right with God, we know we need to be right with one another. And we forgive. We talk. We go to the issue and resolve it. This is the basic level of grace. You and I have to make this level happen to work together, walk in unity, and stay in right relationships. The aspect of grace looks for fairness, and when you aren’t treated fairly, forgiveness grace needs to be extended.

Romans 12:18 “As much as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Rick: I have not always done this. One of my secretaries when I was a pastor, for some reason, didn’t like me. Or at least this was my perspective. In reality, I didn’t extend this forgiveness grace to her, but worked around her, avoided her, and never went where we needed to go to make the relationship right. God wants us to live in forgiveness toward one another, but there are deeper levels to walking in grace with each other that we need to go to.

2. Surrendering Grace – means you are entrusting your good to the other person. Surrendering grace means you trust the other person with your well-being. You give this person access to your heart and to your dreams; you allow them a position of looking out for your best interest. You let them in, you surrender some of your “safety nets” to them, and trust them to support you, to know and look after your needs. This aspect of grace takes you to the place where you trust the person to be for you.

We do this all the time with our medical and legal matters, our automobile needs. We trust them – but we hire them to be trustworthy. In Surrendering Grace, we trust others because we have given them access to show us kindness, favor, and support. We just don’t go there with people very often.

Does anyone play cards a lot, or maybe poker? So you know what it means to hold your cards close? We hold our cards close in our relationships and keep our needs, our real needs to ourselves.

We just don’t give access to others to see us, know us and be for us.

• It may be because of earlier relationships that were painful or abusive.

• It could be you sensed being abandoned or pushed aside and forgotten at some point.

• It could be that you were wounded when you gave access at some point. No more of that access stuff here!

• Sometimes it’s just too much trouble to start all over with “giving yourself away” and opening your life and heart up (the ship) to others. You just don’t want to go there.

• Or it could be that you have adopted the mottos of the safe: “Everybody will hurt you eventually, so why bother.” Or “If you don’t look after your own interests, no one will.” Or “If you give someone an inch, they will take a mile.” Or “Everybody is out to get something. Everyone has an angle.” All these say: no access here!

(Let’s face it – we learn or perhaps unlearn how to give access to others in grace. We were watching the kids the other day, and sure they have conflict, but they say what they feel, and forgive, and play with abandon again. At some point, we begin to close up letting others be “for us” and really know us. We have to learn to move past the conflicts, back to trust. Yes, they are coping mechanisms and keep us safe from unsafe people. But, we also close out those who should be “on our team” in the most real way possible.)

Its like we deal with everyone on a sort of scale – at one end is the word “against” – these are people we just will not trust or extend grace toward. At the other end is “for” – and we may go there with a spouse or a best friend, but no more. And in the middle is “neutral” – our grace toward most people is neutral. And we know our work, our mission, our friendships; our creativity would be entirely different if we were for each other – if we gave access to have this kind of relationship. Not everyone on your team will be there for this kind of grace relationship; but going there with those who can be will be worth it.

3. Serving Grace – This kind of grace comes when we serve one another in spite of the differences, we go the extra mile to look after another’s interests. This is grace that says to someone else you want to be “for him or her.” It’s the grace that asks for a chance to know and love and serve alongside of, in a deeper way. This is the grace that does more than forgive – it loves, it serves, and it seeks to open the door of mutual trust and a “for one another grace.”

How many times does the NT use the phrase “one another” – this is what the Kingdom is all about. These are things we know. But our stuff gets in the way…way too often. It’s a good thing that God gives us fresh starts and keeps reminding us and calling us to Himself.

Closing: Read Colossians 3:5-14.

Everyday brings a fresh set of choices. God has given His followers a lifestyle that has both clear boundaries and plenty of room to grow and roam and experience life. The “don’t” of our faith-life are all there to make life and relationships work right. The “do’s” are there to replace man-made restrictions to freedom in Christ. The dividing labels listed in our verses today keep people apart, demean and belittle others, and tell them they are excluded and will never measure up. In fact, the central point of the Gospel is that none of us measure up when we use God’s standard. We all are people of grace, needing His and each other’s forgiveness and space to grow. God’s plan is to redefine how we measure one another. It is no longer the label, the heritage, the “bloodline” of our families, our education, and our jobs, or the name of our church. It is the simple truth that we are forgiven by the God who provided the Savior and Forgiver. That causes us to give plenty of room for those who aren’t quite like us, or worship like us, or dress like us… or, well, you get the picture.

Read Colossians 3:5-14 again, but put it in first person – I and me – and insert the word choose when it comes to choices in these verses. “I am dead to the things of this world and my new life is now hidden in God through Christ. I have destroyed the desires to sin that are in me. These desires of sex sins, anything that is not clean, or a desire for those sins or wanting something someone else has because this is like worshiping another god. I have put out of my life these things also: anger, bad temper, bad feelings towards others, talk that hurts people, speaking against God, and dirty language. I do not lie to others. I have put out of my life my old ways. I have now become a new person and I am always learning more about Christ. I am being made more like Christ because He is the one who made me. God has chosen me. I am holy and loved by Him, and because of this my new life will be full of grace. I will be kind to others and have no pride. I will be willing and wait for others. I will try to understand others, forgive others and if I have something against someone, forgive them. For that is the way the Lord forgave me. And to all these things, I will add love.”

Closing in Prayer:

Ask God whom you need to ask to pray for you. You know these guys in here well enough now to ask them to pray for you. Then I want you to get with this person and pray for each other that you would grow in grace. If you have a “grace issue” you want to pray for, take time to do so.

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