Creflo Dollar - Understanding Grace Based Relationships - Part 1
Well, if you have your Bibles this morning, if you'll go with me to the book of Saint John chapter 1, and verse 1. We're gonna start a new series today, and the name of the series is "Understanding Grace-Based Relationships". "Understanding Grace-Based Relationships". Now, I'm sure a lot of people understand relationships, but is it grace-based? Is it relationships that you understand are under the law and under religion that puts people in bondage, that hurts people, or is it relationships that's based on what Jesus has established and accomplished through the death, burial, and Resurrection? What kind of relationship is that?
You're gonna find out that one of the hardest-hit areas during the pandemic was this area of relationships, and in this series, I wanna take some time to deal with men because I'm concerned about men in the body of Christ. I'm concerned about they're afraid. They're insecure. They don't feel needed, sometimes don't feel wanted. They don't feel confident that they've been properly equipped and trained to be the man, and so, consequently, the definition of "manhood" has been terribly corrupted and flawed. And so, in this series, we're gonna touch a little on all of these kind of things. So I spent the majority of my time tryin' to write the introduction so that we could all start from a place of understanding, from a foundation of understandin'. The Bible says, "If your foundation be destroyed, what shall the righteous do"?
And I think we are in a foundation crisis. I think we have been so ignorant of the basic things. We have so ignored the basics of a thing, we jump out to this other thing, and you don't know that all of those great things that you see people have in their life, that there's a base to it. There's a foundation to it. You don't just have a great marriage. You don't just have a long-lasting friendship. There's a base that holds that up, and so what I see is I see people buildin' high skyscraper buildings, and the buildings fall down after a few years because it's not built on a solid foundation. And the Bible makes it very clear that Jesus is that foundation. He is that cornerstone, that rock, and we continue to test heaven, where this is concerned, and somehow thinkin', "We don't need the foundation. We just need to know how to build the edifice". And the edifice, it lasts for a while.
I see a lot of people visit the heights of success, and overnight it falls, why? I've seen marriages visit the heights of success, and it falls, why? I see great friendships visit the height of success. It falls. Why? Because we're failing in the basics. We're failing in the foundational things. So if we read the Bible from cover to cover, we would easily conclude that the Bible is a book that talks about two major relationships. Two major relationships. Number one, the relationship between God and man, and, number two, the relationship between man and man.
Now, I'm not talkin' about you gettin' married. And it's amazin' to me, people can get born again under grace and then get married, and they want some laws. So you go from the freedom of grace, back to the bondage of law and try to conduct your marriage that way. But God and man, and man and man are the two relationships the Bible talks about the basics, and then we've got to resolve what we gotta do there in those relationships. One of the major aspects of being alive is that we are able to enter into friendships, friendships that are fun, friendships that are exciting, and friendships that are warm and comforting. Christians are to become good friends with God, and good friends with one another. That's where we start. As now, as a Christian, I am to become a good friend with God and then good friends with each other.
Imagine the church, understanding this level of friendship, so when the church gets to the buildin', you've got friends showin' up. But notice, you're not gonna even be a good friend to one another until you learn how to be a good friend where God is concerned. But like I say, we keep ignoring that part. In this day and age, some people don't even know if they really believe in a God no more, more or less tryin' to be a friend of God. Your relationship with God and his Word should be priority in your life as a Christian. So let's start there, that my relationship with God and my relationship with his Word should be a priority in my life as a Christian. This relationship will determine your success or failure in building godly friendships. It will determine your success or failure where marriages are concerned. Your relationship with God and his Word, whether you believe it or not... see, if stuff's not working, I'm tellin' you why. You can have all the money in the world, you can have all the fame in the world, but in the booth, in the back, in the corner, in the dark, there's a brokenness there because the foundation of being what God created you to be, his friend, has never been established. Are you listenin' to me?
So in John chapter 1, verse 1, we started here, he says, "In the beginning was the" what? "Word, and the Word was with" who? "God, and the Word was", so he says God and his Word are the same. So that we won't get confused here, you cannot have a relationship with God without having a relationship with his Word, and I can't tell you the number of people I am still runnin' into today that just believe that they can have a relationship with God without havin' a relationship with his Word, that they can very comfortably declare, "I'm a friend of God," and don't know nothin' about his Word. It can't happen. You cannot have a relationship with God without having a relationship with his Word. You cannot have a relationship with God without havin' a relationship with his Word. You cannot have a relationship with God without havin' a relationship with his Word.
And I know, when I say stuff like that, I know it goes in and out, in and out at some point. It's not gonna be right. If you ever run into stuff in life and you pause and ask a question after you've been shot into this area of success, and then you ask, "Well, what happened"? It's always gonna be a lack of relationship with the Word, which is a lack of relationship with God that will eventually affect every relationship after that. Every relationship after that will be impacted for your decision to have a relationship with his Word or your decision not to. Now, when you have a relationship with his Word, bless God. You've gotta pick a place that's going to be able to teach you the Word accurately and correctly. You cannot choose a place just 'cause your grandmama and them went there. See, as a believer who is far away from God's Word, you're also far away from the supernatural.
Now, people love to experience the supernatural. What I'm talkin' about, in other words, you have the natural things that happen because it's natural, but you have those super things that happen, which is above the natural. Everybody can use some supernatural assistance. And in these last days, we all gon' need some supernatural assistance. The supernatural is when God shows up to do somethin' that doesn't happen in the natural, when favor shows up when there was no way for this one thing to happen, and it happened anyway. That's the supernatural 'cause you would not let go of the Word, and you would not let go of God, and the supernatural was able to show up because of your connection and your relationship with God. The supernatural is always available to someone that has a right relationship with God through his Word. But the people who call on the supernatural and have no relationship with God and his Word, that is futile. It will not happen, ladies and gentlemen.
Please understand this, that a believer who is far away from God's Word is far away from the supernatural. "But I go to church". Yeah, but are you in the Word? Listen, I am not talkin' about what happens when you come to the buildin'. I'm talkin' about what happens in your life when you're at home, when you're at work. I'm talkin' about your life. So until the Word becomes a life, it'll never become a reality, and you're lookin' for the reality of the Word, and it's not yet become alive to you, it's not real to you. You don't take it serious, and you're quick to believe somebody that tells you, "That ain't real. The Word ain't real. That ain't what it is". But it is your responsibility to keep seekin'.
Taffi and I could've been caught up in a lot of stuff, but we kept seekin' it. We kept seekin' it. We kept prayin'. We kept studyin'. And then somethin' broke loose one day, and we said, "Wait a minute. Somethin' ain't right here 'cause, over here on the left side, it say this. Over here on the right side, it say somethin' else". And we thought, "Well, there it is, the Bible contradictin' itself," and it wasn't the Bible contradictin' itself. We didn't know how to rightly divide between what was true in the Old Covenant and what was true in the New Covenant, but we kept pressin'. And we're pressin' today. We are determined to be students of the Word of God until we leave because you ain't never gon' know it all. You gotta keep goin' for it. You gotta keep pressin' in at it. You gotta hear the Word when you wanna hear it, and you gotta hear it when you don't wanna hear it.
So the deal is, when the Word enters in your life, light comes, and when the light comes, darkness disappears, and you know what happens then? Then you manifest the supernatural. That's why I got to have the Word. I gotta have the Word because I'm livin' in a dark place. These people crazy in this world. I'm livin' in a dark place. I need the light. I need some light every day, amen? So the Word is the seed, and the supernatural is the fruit, but you want the fruit without the seed, and that's not possible. A farmer cannot desire corn, and he hadn't planted no corn seed, he can't. And so many Christians desire results and fruit, but they're planting the wrong seed. You can't get it until you plant the right seed. So most people hear the subject of relationships. Let me get back here. They hear the subject of relationships, and they immediately assume that the topic will be about marriage, but we've never truly learned about developing godly friendships.
Marriages have failed because we don't know how to be friends. Not only do we not know how to be friends in a marriage, we have no idea of the responsibility of friendship, you know, just simple respect. Be concerned about somebody's feelings. If you're not concerned about that as a friend, you ain't gon' be concerned about that when you gon' get married. There's a lot of things about friendship that prepares you for the marriage relationship, but you don't even know how to be a good friend. If you are selfish in your friendships, you're gonna be selfish in your marriage. If you lie, the quickest way to destroy any relationship is lying. If you lie in your friendship, you will lie in your marriage. See, the marriage, for the most part, never had a chance. I mean, you should pause when you meet people who ain't got no friends, and if the one that they do say they have, "I got one friend, but we ain't close".
I would take that one friend he ain't close to out to lunch and say, "Talk to me about them". Because you can tell a whole lot about what you're gettin' ready to marry if you'll just look and see how they treat their friends. You know the old saying, if you're around somebody and they talk real bad about one person, then that same way, the same way they doin' that other person, they gon' do the same thing about you. You should never be surprised when you hear somebody talked about you when you was around them when they were talkin' about somebody else. Friendship. So I thought it would be wise to start in that area. The lack of development and understanding about friendship will automatically cripple our ability to develop healthy and long-lasting marriages. Lots of things.
Now, you're not doomed. There are some things you can learn about friendship that you can take and begin to apply in your marriage and start treating the spouse as a friend because marriage should be a union of friends. That's what it should be. But some people, they're not marryin' their friend. And some people, they don't care if you are my friend. "Can you pay the bills"? "Hey, friend". We missed it, and I take great joy in this series. And as you can see, I'mma take my God-lovin' time to make sure we sow this into your heart so you can get ahold of it. So today let's deal with developing godly friendships. Now, notice I didn't say, "friendships". I don't want you to develop just general friendships 'cause some general friendships are developed on the wrong basis. We're talkin' about developing godly friendships, so we're gonna be taking advice from the Word of God about the type of way we should be developing friendships.
So let's go and look at some Scriptures. Let's look at John 15 and 13 in the NIV. I'm gonna spend a lot of time in the NIV today. John 15 and 13, in the New International Version, developing godly friendships. Now, here's what he says. He says, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friend". "To lay down one's life for one's friend". Now check it out. How many of you know, if you don't learn how to lay your life down for a friend, you sure ain't gon' lay your life down for a spouse, and that's why some people get into divorce 'cause they never learned how to lay their life down. Never learned how to lay their life down for a friend. Well, I was prayin' about this. I said, "Lord, I think we need to go a little deep on this, not that I know nothin', God, because you is God. You's the boss," but, for me, personally, I don't wanna look at this as I have in time's past and think that means I gotta die.
I don't think God's askin' you to jump in front of a bus, okay? That's the only time you hear that Scripture talked about is when somebody die for a friend. I mean, that's cool, but that's not necessarily what he's talkin' about learning how to die, and lay your life down daily for a friend, how? By helpin' those people who are around you. You laid your life down to help people around you, you know, by giving your time, by giving your talent, by giving your expertise; in some cases, by giving your money, lay your life down; by maybe they had a bad day, and they didn't speak to you like they normally would speak to you, and you wanna get your feelings hurt. He says, "Lay your life down for a friend and just cut 'em some slack". You follow what I'm sayin'? "Lay your life down for a friend". Even be willin' to sacrifice the friendship in order to speak the truth in love to them, that I'm gonna speak the truth in love to you even if it means sacrificin' the friendship.
I'm laying my life down for you where that is concerned. That's what he's talkin' about there. And so if you're looking at friendship, and I'm gon' give a list of some things that you can do to operate in this, are you willin' to lay your life down for that friend? Are you willin' to help those who are around you? Are you willin' to give your time, your expertise, your talent? Are you willin' to cut some slack? Are you willin' to sacrifice a friendship to say some things they need to hear 'cause they're hurting themselves? How do we call ourselves "friend" and can sit and look at somebody destroying their lives?
Now, I don't mean be in debt to their drama, but at least they heard it once. I don't mean callin' and just harass 'em. I mean, as a friend, you might not call me no more, you might not text me no more, you might not wanna have anything else to do with me anymore, but I'm gon' lay my life down right here, and I'm gon' tell you what I believe you need to hear, and then I'mma back up because friends don't let friends do stupid stuff. See, if you don't know that, then you're gon' let your wife do somethin' stupid. You're gon' let your husband do somethin' stupid. You're not gonna be willin' to lay your life down for your spouse 'cause you never learned how to experience it in the area of friendship.
See, God is so cool. He knows that, you know, outer court, inner court, holiest of holies. He knows there's some things that need to take place in the outer court before you get into the inner court, before you get into the holiest of holies. We're livin' in a generation right now, everybody wanna get into the holiest of holies. Don't nobody believe it takes, you know, certain things that need to happen before you get in the holiest of holies. And what happens if you get in the holiest of holies, and you don't really know what to do in the holiest of holies? Now, you gotta understand what happened in the holiest of holies. If you entered in the holiest of holies with the wrong thing on you, they tied a rope to your ankle with a bell on it, so if you went in there and you didn't get cleaned right in the inner court, and you went in and opened your mouth and fell dead, ain't nobody goin' in there to get ya, so they just get the rope and just pull you on out.
See, you weren't ready for that holiest of holies relationship. Ah, you weren't ready for a holiest of holies relationship. You flunked in an outer court relationship. You were ignorant in an inner court relationship, and you wanna jump into a holiest of holies relationship? "Why you gettin' married so quick"? "Girl, because he's fine". "Fine" gon' make you unhappy. "Fine" gon' destroy your life. He ain't always gon' be fine. Them six-pack gon' turn into a one-pack, and that one-pack gon' spill over, overflow. He gon' get up in the mornin' and say, "Oh, hey, where you goin' there, girl"? Heh-heh, oh-ho. Okay, go to Proverbs 12:26, in the NIV. Proverbs 12:26, in the NIV. It's like, somewhere in your head you know this, but hopefully through this series we can kind of just bring this to your attention a little bit more so you can at least ask yourself, "What kind of friend am I? What kind of friend am I? How did I do as a friend"?
Now, I have a brother in the Lord, a sister in the Lord. How did I do here? Now, verse 26, I like this. He says, "The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray". Aother translation says, "They choose their friends with caution". Well, why is that? Choose your friends carefully, why? I mean, wooh, everybody that wants to be your friend may not qualify for godly friendship, and I'll teach more as we go along, but, you know, you do have to understand that, you know, ah, choose your friends carefully, why? Go to 1 Corinthian 15. I think this will say it.
Let's go to the New King James Version here. New King James Version, 1 Corinthians 15, verse 33. 1 Corinthians 15, verse 33. 'Cause you're gonna hear me say a little bit later that, if you got friends that are havin' a negative impact, it's better for you to be by yourself. Okay, now watch this: He said, "Do not be deceived". So, for you to be deceived is for you to ignore what he's saying here: "Evil company corrupts good habits". So choose your friends carefully, why? Because "Evil company corrupts good habits". Choose your friends carefully.
The three or four friends you hang around will have the potential of enhancing your relationship with Jesus or corrupting your good habits. And you're talkin' about, "Well, they saved". I'm talkin' about saved people. I'm talkin' about there are some saved people that can corrupt your good, godly habits, and you have to choose your friends carefully or with some cautions. It's like some of us are so desperate to be around somebody, and this is why that happens, because you don't have a relationship with God and his Word. And when you don't have a relationship with God and his Word, then you figure it's just good to have somebody. "I don't like 'em that much, but at least it's somebody". That's pitiful. You can be much better off developing a relationship with God through his Word.