Creflo Dollar - How To Restore Broken Relationships - Part 2
I'm realizing that a lot of mistakes of my past were because I didn't know enough. And a lot of times people are wondering, "Why is my life going like this"? You don't know enough. You don't know enough. "Well, I did all I know to do". Maybe you didn't know enough. And I learned the more I spent time with God, the more I spent time in his Word, I began to understand more than what I understood before. And people don't want to hear that. I don't know what it is about everybody being an expert in the Bible and everybody being an expert in life. All right?
So watch these Scriptures. Philippians 2, verse 2 in the NIV, he says, "Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love," whoa. The only kind of love I know that we can all have in equality is agape. Having a like-minded and having the same love, being one in spirit and being one in mind. Verse 3, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, do it in humilities," bowing in the knee to God and his Word, "value others above yourself". That's big. That's big. As Christians, are we practicing valuing other people above ourselves? That's big, be careful when you say amen to that because that's big, that challenges you, that causes you to grow and mature more when you begin to think, "I want to value people more than myself". And then he says, "Not looking to your own interests, but each of you the interests of the other". He says it's going to be very, very difficult for you to value somebody above yourself if you're looking at your own interests.
That's Bible right there, ladies and gentlemen. And if we believe in it, then let it minister to us and let it challenge our lives. Look at Romans chapter 12, verses 9 and 10 in the NLT. This is so cool, "Don't just pretend to love others". How many of you know there's a level of phoniness that's in the church? How many of you know that church people have perfected phoniness? How many of you know that anybody that's saved can pick up phoniness? And I don't know why people act phony like nobody can't pick it up. You ain't even got to be in the spirit to pick up some people's phoniness. "Hey, you coming back for the concert tonight"? "I'mma try". That's a honest lie. You ain't coming. You ain't coming. He says don't just pretend to love others.
See, that's when it gets just kind of sour. It's like when people just pretend, they don't ever graduate to the genuine. He says, "Don't just pretend you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good". Really love them. Verse 10, "Love each other with genuine", there it is again. He's saying get rid of the fake and the phony. "God bless you, brother. I love you". No, stop it, don't pretend. If you'll reexamine the New Testament, it constantly talks about fake love. Don't love with fake love. "Love each other with genuine affection. Take delight in honoring each other".
Honoring people should not be a struggle all the time. It may start off a little challenging, but it shouldn't stay that way. Honoring people should come to a point where you delight in it. "I'm so happy to honor you. I'm so happy to congratulate you. I'm so happy to see that God blessed you with a new car". And I don't have to choke around and then say, "Hmm, you got that. Don't know why the Lord didn't bless me, I pray just as much as you do". Delight in honoring each other. That's so powerful.
Now, this is real Jesus stuff I'm talking here now. This ain't no religious stuff, it ain't no religious stuff, this is Jesus stuff. This is what people who say, "I am ready, God. I know you've given me all of you, but is there something that I need to do to make the adjustment so all you've given can begin to flow through my life"? And I believe that's why we're going to see the power of God like never before because the character ceiling has been lifted, glory be to God. And then 1 Peter 4:8 in the Amplified, 1 Peter 4:8 in the Amplified; and then I move a little quickly what's going to be the fourth week on this. The Amplified says, "Above all things, have intense and unfailing love for one another".
Whoa, this is serious. I mean, how do we skip all of this instruction about our love and character and proceed to believe in God for the supernatural, and proceed to, "Oh, I think God's going to do this and God going to do that, and God going to do that". He's like, "Dude, y'all don't even have the foundation basic understanding of how a relationship need to be going so I can flow through it". And then you get married and talking about, "I don't understand". That's 'cause you didn't understand when you had an opportunity for friendship. That's 'cause you never developed relationship with God in a relationship. And so, you know, we're constantly trying to counsel and fix marriage relationships.
I don't know, Taffi, when's the last time somebody made a counseling session with me to counsel about a broken friendship, or when's the last time I had a counseling session meet with me to talk about a broken relationship between God and them? It's always trying to counsel through marriage while we rebel against the instructions that God gave us in preparing for marriage. If you would do what he tells you to do with those first two relationships, you would hardly need marriage counseling, why? 'Cause you've developed the character that's equipped enough to carry on a great marriage and enjoy this gift of marriage. I wish I would have known what I'm telling you. I wish I'd have known that 40 years ago. Thank God I know it now.
So look at this Scripture. He says, "Above all things have," this is the word that got me, "intense and unfailing love," which means my love shouldn't fail for you. Now, there may have been something that might have bruised me, it won't fail. Give me time, it won't fail. Give me time. "For one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. It forgives and it disregards the offenses of others". That's where God's trying to get us. And if we can get to that place, then you are gonna walk in the presence of God like you've never walked in before. Before you ask, he's going to answer. While you're asking, he's going to answer. When it's starting hurting, it's gon' be healed at the same... you can't help but to walk in the presence of God, God is love. And when you're walking in this, that love now is becoming a part of your life, and God's becoming a part of your life, and his presence is becoming a part of your life, amen.
Let's go to the second one now, the second action to building and dealing with conflict in relationships. So the first one, love is the starting point. Love is the starting point, okay? You got that? Everybody good with that? Those of you at home, you got it? Just say, "Yes," I'll hear you. Okay, good. Now, number two, encouragement. All right, this is big now. Encouragement. Relationships that have conflict, encouragement. Now, why would I mention encouragement? Because a major problem that retards relationships is criticism, criticism. A major problem that retards relationship, criticism. Positive encouragement will always be better than negative criticism. Positive encouragement will always be better than negative criticism.
Now, I wanted to kind of like just move on from that and just go to three and I just heard this in my spirit, "No". You need to know why people are critical. You need to know why criticism retards relationship. You need to really look at your critical season of your life where you were very critical about everything, anything that happened it was Taffi's fault. I'll never forget an argument we was having coming from church. I said, "Well, if you did this, then it wouldn't have happened, it's your fault. It was not my fault. It's you". I mean, I almost felt demon-possessed when I said that, "it's you". And understand something, there are reasons why people criticize, you want a few of them? There are reasons why. See if you can find yourself in some of these.
Number one, people criticize because, you know, they feel like they have to be in control. They feel like they have to be in control so they become critical of everything else.
Here's another one, your criticism of others is a reflection of what you do to yourself. In other words, let me say that again. I apologize. I'm going too fast. Your criticism of others is a reflection of what you do to yourself. When I talk about the reflection, I'm talking about your inner voice, and the dialogue that you have within you is critical. And so when that inner voice that you hear is critical and that dialogue you have with yourself is critical, it's no wonder you are criticizing other people 'cause it's a reflection of what you do to yourself.
Here's another one. You think your way is right or the correct way. And when you think your way is the right way and when you think your way is the correct way, then you don't think there's any other way but your way and so you become critical of other people because you think your way's the right way.
Number four, being critical of others helps you feel in power, and it helps you feel like you're dominant by focusing on the weaknesses of other people and focuses on the shortcomings of other people. So what happens is you criticize other people 'cause it helps you feel power, it helps you feel like you're dominant while you're actually focusing on the weaknesses and the shortcomings of other people. So by being critical and you're focusing on their weakness, you're focusing on their shortcomings, it makes you feel more powerful, it makes you feel dominant; and that's the problem with marriage relationships that are not based on equality, is that you got this guy who's a husband who's heard that he's supposed to be the dominant force in the marriage and he ends up criticizing the wife for everything only to cover up his weaknesses.
And so the problem is, is we never get to deal with his weaknesses. I'mma deal with it in this series, but we never get to deal with his weaknesses. We never get to deal with a man covering up his wounds and hiding his idiosyncrasies and his problems under the cover, and he's afraid that somebody going to find him out one day because he doesn't feel like he can reveal what the real problem is; his problems of rejection, his weaknesses, his situations. So in order to cover it up, you become critical. In order for me to cover up my wounds, I was critical of Taffi so that my weaknesses would not be revealed, so that I could feel like I was dominant. And as long as she let that happen, it was more of a deception to me and it wasn't helping me be what I needed to be. But everybody was trained in church that's just how it is, and get this, and woman don't say nothing, what the heck? If she don't ever say nothing, how are you going to find out how stupid you are?
And some women try to do that until they got pushed to the wall, "I gots to say something". And then it didn't come out right, and you use some very colorful metaphors. Here's some other reasons why people are critical. You doubt your value and you doubt your worth, so you criticize others before they have a chance to criticize you. You doubt your value and you doubt your worth, and that's what a lot of husbands I meet. You will not believe the men that I've had a chance to talk to that have serious value issues about themselves, worth about themselves. Something that might have been said by somebody they admired 30 years ago has affected them all the way up to right now. And so I need to criticize you before you criticize me. Before you have a chance to criticize me, I got to criticize you.
So I didn't want to just run through this. All of this will retard a relationship. It'll retard a relationship or a friendship. I mean, look at what happens. If you become that critical with friends, they're not going to be calling you. The calls are going to get little to none. "I ain't got time to be talking to somebody that's going to be critical of me". And yet you find yourself using that weapon to protect yourself. There it is again, "Let me protect myself by criticizing my wife, criticizing my friend, criticizing my church". Any time you see people criticizing something, there's an underlining issue. There's always an underlining issue. People tell on themselves just by... I mean, when they open their mouth, listen, when somebody opening their mouth say, "I'm a fool," believe it, believe it.
So likewise you start understanding when people get angry, when folks cuss you out, when people are critical, there is an underlining issue. And if we as people of God can understand that, hopefully it makes us more patient with people to say, "Okay, let me give them some time. And obviously they might have meant it, they didn't mean it, but by pure fact they said it. There's something behind that". So until we can get time to talk about it to find out, "Okay, so what's behind the criticism? Do you all know people or ever met people that are just, every sentence is critical"? And it's like, "Man, what's up with this dude? I'm trying to agape him, but now I want to knock him". Criticizing has become a bad habit and so you don't know how to relate and get attention any other way except for criticizing.
So another reason people criticize is to get attention. It's the way you connected with people in the past. It's the way you connected with others talking about others, comparing yourself amongst others, complaining amongst others, criticizing. It's the only way you know to connect. And so you might meet somebody that's new and the first thing that happens in your relationship or fellowship is being critical because they've always done that and that's their way of getting attention. They don't know any other way to get attention except by being critical of other people. Being critical of others keeps people from getting too close. So I can be critical of you 'cause I don't want you to get too close to me. I mean, you feel more protected and less vulnerable when you can just criticize other people. Are y'all listening to me?
You worry about what people will think of you and you try to protect your self-image, so you criticize 'cause you're concerned about what they think about you. Criticism distracts you and helps you avoid how you really feel. You know, you might be scared, you might be under stress, you might be under pressure, and so it's easier to be critical. And I'mma tell you something, when you are scared and under pressure and stressed out, if you catch yourself, you will find yourself being critical of somebody or something just to protect your own fears of worry about whatever you're going through. You feel overly responsible.
Now, here's where I found me. And when I found me there, I'm like it's still critical. Here's where a lot of you will find yourself. You feel overly responsible for others. You think you are trying to help and you think your feedback is necessary to help guide or facilitate their growth, and so you kind of use it trying to be smart and it's still being critical, it's still being critical. You can inspire people to get better without being critical of what they're doing. I think that's enough. Y'all get what I'm saying here? So I believe that if you're going to restore those relationships, you're going to have to understand that positive encouragement is going to always be a lot better than criticism.
Look at these couple of Scriptures. Ephesians chapter 4, verse 29 in the NIV; Ephesians chapter 4, verse 29 in the NIV. I think one of the things that will begin to help us in these relationship and this grace-based relationship is that we just slow down and talk about stuff like this in church, that you know, by you hearing this and that I'm spending time and I'm going through practical things about it and giving steps to this, hopefully it's going to help out. And so when you read Scriptures about treating one another right and all this other stuff, hopefully we have an opportunity to break it down a little bit more to say, "Oh, that means do this, and apply this, and to put that here, and to do that".
Okay? I'm pretty cool. I'm kind of delivered from having to, you know, be real churchy to try to get people up. I'm pretty delivered from having to do something to get, "Let's get them to shout, let's get them to dance". And I've seen that for 40 years. I've seen them shout, dance; and then those same people shouting and dancing, screaming and falling out ain't even saved no more. So I figured we just need to talk and make sure you understand what's being said, that we need to plant something in your hearing so when you get home, maybe you'll dream about it and rehearse it.
Look what he says here. He says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen". That sounds like criticism to me. He says speak things that'll build somebody up. That sounds like encouragement to me. Speak things that will build them up instead of speaking things that'll tear them down. Let them be a hearer of grace, things that'll build them up. Think twice, it's going to be a lot easier to criticize and be critical than it is to be encouraging. And discipline yourself in being an encouragement and not operate in the thing of, you know, "I'm just going to tell you".
And sometimes it can be passive, being critical, passive. You know, like, well, you know, "Yeah, praise the Lord". "But, you know, you kind of did that yourself last week. You know, I just wanted to bring that to your attention". No, the Bible says speaking the truth in love, that's cool. We speak the truth to one another, but then one of the steps here is to respect people, you know what that means? Here's my simple definition for respect. Be concerned about how people feel, wow. Let's look at one more Scripture and I'll go to the next one. Colossians 4:5 through 6 in the NLT, Colossians 4:5 through 6 in the NLT. So I'm giving the practical, but I'm following up with Scriptures to let you know this is all biblical. I'm not sitting up here just blowing these psychological, therapeutic truths through your brain. I'm showing you it's in the Bible. And here it says, "Live wisely among those who are not believers".
Okay, that's interesting. 'Cause as somebody that's not a believer of Jesus Christ, you know what's going to determine whether they ever become a believer of Jesus Christ? Time with you. You want to be a real soul winner? Time with you. 'Cause if you preach a sermon on Sunday morning and then when they spend time with you on Thanksgiving, "I ain't doing that. Did you all hear what he said at the Thanksgiving table"? "He doing what we do". Look at it. He says so like, "For those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity". The most of what? Being a living epistle, that they read you. They're not reading the Bible. Unbelievers are not reading the Bible. They're reading the living epistles. They're reading you. They're reading your life. They're reading your conversations. They're reading how you carry yourself. They're reading you.
Look at the next verse. He says, "Let your conversation," or your lifestyle, "be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone," even those who are not saved. And so when you look at this, is your life attractive? When people look at you as a Christian, is that attractive? Because when they look at your life and it's not attractive, if you're working so hard to be worldly, "People just freak me out. Well, I'm going to be like them so I can win them to Christ". That ain't what he meant.