Creflo Dollar - How To Restore Broken Relationships - Part 3
We're talking about grace-based relationships, grace-based relationships, and we're having to start at the root of relationships so that once you get married or in any relationship it'll work as God has designed it to work. Relationships will work if we follow the design that God has given to us. Now, there are two things we have to know as Christian people. We've got to understand why God wants us to have a good relationship with him and then have a good relationship with one another so then when we get married we take all of those things that we've learned in those two previous relationships and we can enjoy what God meant for marriage to be: total complete enjoyment.
But now here's what you got to understand. The primary, priority relationship is man's relationship with God; and that's the one that over the years and generations have slowly kind of weakened that all of a sudden people don't think that having a relationship with God is important or vital where other relationships are concerned, and especially in marriage. You know, you want to go and always seek, you know, you always have questions about marriage, you seek counseling for marriage, nothing wrong with that; but God is saying, listen, you keep neglecting the priority relationship, and that's the relationship between man and God.
Now, the only way you're going to have a relationship between man and God is through his Word. And so the next issue is, "Okay, I have a relationship with God". Well, do you have a relationship with his Word? "Well no, but I know God". No, you don't. Quit fooling yourself. If you don't have a relationship with his Word, you don't have a relationship with God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word," what? Was God and is God. And today people are trying to have an emotional relationship with God, but without the Word you don't have a relationship with God. See, the supernatural is connected to the Word of God. When there is no Word, there can be no supernatural.
And so we're expecting supernatural things to happen from God, and it's not possible. It's not possible without his Word. You have to have a relationship with his Word in order to be successful in that priority relationship with God. So that's so important. And so in gaining a relationship with that Word... this past Wednesday we talked about is membership biblical or not, and we found out that you just can't connect yourself to a body and not be a functioning member. What does that mean? That means if my hands is connected to my body but it's not functioning as a hand, then, you know, what you doing there? That's called deformity. Why are you not doing and functioning like you need to function? And so your membership, your time with God, all of that's going to determine the kind of relationship you have with God. But please hear me.
If you don't have a relationship with the Word, you don't have a relationship with God. There's a lot of things God wants to teach you in that relationship with him that's going to help you in the second relationship, a relationship with one another. And in the second relationship, we've been talking about godly friendships. People are trying to get married and they don't even know how to be good friends, and you go in marriage talking about, "I don't know what the problem is". The problem is, is that you bypassed the godly friendship stage and you didn't know how to be a godly friend 'cause you didn't have no relationship with God.
And so what happens, I've spent the last 3 weeks talking about godly friendship because a lot of things that are established within that relationship of a godly friendship is going to now move on into your marriage. I mean, things like respect. You learn how to respect one another, it'll move in your marriage. Things like agape love, which is unconditional love, which means there's no reason to love you except that, you know, I do it because you are a bearer of Christ, I do it because you're saved. And when two saved people get married, there's no such thing as, "You did something to disqualify my love for you". Because as a Christian I have committed to love you unconditionally without merit.
And so people who are in the church, how is it that we don't know how to love each other in the church? We love worldliness more than we love people in the church, and Jesus said that people in the world will know us by the love that we have for one another. And so where is that? Where is that demonstration of the love that Christian folks have for one another? It should be attractive. When the world looks at us and they see the love we have for one another and the care that we have for one another, it should be attractive. It should be so attractive that it draws people to want to have what you have, to receive that agape love; and yet somehow or another we've allowed the way of the world to seep into the church and we're treating one another like the world treats one another. And we should not be getting anything from the world, they should be getting everything from us. Amen?
So we've been talking about godly friendship. And, you know, I would love to review everything, but I don't have the time. So we've been talking about the seven actions to building better relationships not while you're married, but before you're married. Please understand if you don't, those first two relationships, get those down and marriage is like a gift from heaven. But if you don't get those first two relationships down and then you get married, it's like a torment from hell, and that's what some people's marriages is. It's like tormenting. I mean, out here when they come in for counseling, I'm thinking like, "I don't even know how y'all stay together. I'd leave. You want my advice? Go. Run. Run, Forrest, run. Get away quickly. This is a mess".
So we've been talking about restoring a broken relationship or a relationship that is in conflict, a relationship in conflict. And if you'll just hear what I just said, that's a big piece right there. "Do I have a relationship with God"? I mean, you can be in a bad marriage right now, but you can fix it. "Do I have a relationship with God? Let me go get that. Do I know how to be a godly friend"? See, before you're married, I would check out the friends of the people you getting ready to marry. And if they say to you, "I ain't got nobody," you need to put a serious hold on that marriage because, you know, "Why you ain't got one friend"? "No, not one. I just like being by myself". That sounds like the characteristics of a narcissist.
Okay, let me back up just a little bit. One lady asked me one time, "I don't understand why I keep drawing the same old kind of bad man". And the answer is simple. You're ignoring the signals. You're ignoring the signs at the very beginning. There are always signs that people will give you in the very beginning, and here's the thing you need to understand. If a person gives you a sign or says to you that, "I am a fool," believe them. Don't try to sit back talking about, "Oh, now. Hallelujah. The Lord is going to work it out. I'm just going to trust God and God going to mold him and make him just like I want him". If they tell you they're a fool, you need to believe them at the very beginning. So the problem comes 'cause you're ignoring the signs that are being revealed at the very beginning of a thing. And you know they're there, but you just kind of like, "Oh, I know they're there, but you know, I can work through that". And, you know, 20 years later you're like, "I should have listened". Amen.
And so the first step we looked at was love; of course, agape love and phileo love. We talked about that being necessary for reconciliation. And then I think it was last week we talked about encouragement and how the major problem that retards relationships is criticism, and I gave you about eight or ten reasons why people criticize. There's some background on why people are real critical. And then we talked about respect quickly at the end of service last week and respect is just, you know, being in a position where at least you care about how people feel. It's like due regard for feelings and their rights and their traditions and feelings of other people, and that's what we don't have in the world now. We just got a bunch of mean people that are not considerate of how people feel.
Somebody says, "Well, that sound like my marriage". Well see, that's 'cause you didn't understand how to be respectful in a godly friendship that now you don't know how to be respectful in a marriage. Because you didn't understand how God was so respectful of your feelings, you know, you didn't do it in a friendship and so there's no respect where that marriage is concerned. All right, so I believe that the next pieces of this series are going to really hit home. So I want you to listen to me very carefully today as we begin this. So respect was the third one, second one was encouragement, and the first one was love. Everything starts with love.
Now today we're going to pick up with number four, and number four is this. Accept responsibility. Accept responsibility. Now, what does that mean? You know, if you want to deal with a relationship that is in conflict, you're going to have to get yourself in a position where you accept responsibility. Now, the Bible shows that defensiveness, which ultimately ends up in defensiveness and blaming others for things that go wrong will stop a good relationship from forming. Defensiveness and blaming. Please understand that the result of being defensive is blaming. A person is defensive because they use defensiveness as a self-protection mechanism. So I am defensive because I'm trying to protect myself. I feel like you're about to be critical, I perceive criticism coming my way, and so I need to defend myself even if it means to come up with an excuse.
So let me give you an illustration 'cause I want you to really, you know, see this. Let's just say, for example, I say to my wife, you know, "We're going over to visit my mother". And so I get back home and I say to her... no, I'll tell her, for example, "We're going to take some time, we're going to go visit my mother, and we're going to do it at, you know, 4 o'clock". And so I got home and she says, "Well, you know, I thought we were going to go visit your mother"? "Well, you know I was busy. And how come you couldn't just do it anyway? And I don't see why you putting this all on me". That's being defensive, okay? Turn it around. "I thought we were going to go visit your mother at 4 o'clock"? "You know what? I should have told you that I was going to be busy today. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I accept full responsibility. I'm going to call and see if we can go right now". That's accepting responsibility for that.
See, you see the two dynamics that are working here. One of them is filled with a bunch of excuses that are designed to protect yourself; and the other one is accepting responsibility, which is designed to keep that relationship doing what it needs to do. It is the refusal to properly evaluate our own condition or our own contribution to the conflict, when you refuse to look at and check out your contribution to the conflict. That's in every relationship. That's in every kind of relationship. You've got to check out, no matter how small you think it was, you've got to check out the contribution that you made in that conflict. Defensiveness is a way of blaming your partner. You're saying in effect, "The problem isn't me. It's you". And that's what you're saying in effect. "The problem isn't me. It's you".
How many of you know you can't keep doing that and keep godly friends? "The problem isn't me. It's you". And so 1 Corinthians chapter 11 and 20, I'm looking through the Word like, "Where can we find some Scriptures to really lay this out, this issue of accepting responsibility regardless of how small it is"? It takes two to dance. Let me accept the responsibility for my part in it. In 1 Corinthians 11 and 28 he says this, and he was dealing with the Lord's Supper. He says, "But let a man," watch this, "examine himself". Let a man examine himself. Are you consciously aware of how important it is for you to examine yourself? You know, what's going on when you can so easily find fault in other people but you never quite get to the place where you examine yourself? And he says even before taking communion, "Examine yourself. Don't examine everybody else, examine yourself and so let him then eat of that bread and to drink of that cup".
But I also found in Genesis chapter 3, verse 11, 12, and 13. In Genesis chapter 3:11, 12, and 13, Adam and Eve, they have eaten off the tree and have eaten the forbidden fruit and we're seeing if they're going to accept responsibility. I wonder where we would have ended up had they just accepted responsibility, all right? And so in verse 11 he said, "'Who told you that thou was naked? Has thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shalt not eat?' And the man said, 'The woman who thou gaveth to me with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.'"
Look at the blame. You know, I feel like something's getting ready to happen here, I feel like somebody is getting ready to be critical here, I feel like I need to protect myself, and so ultimately I got to find somebody to blame, ultimately I've got to go to the point where I said, "Listen, the problem is not with me, the problem is with you," to the point where I'm saying, "No, God, I'm not the problem. It's the woman you gave me that's the problem". Okay? So you don't see a guy accepting responsibility. That relationship is not going to be good. Next verse, "And the Lord said unto the woman, 'What is this that thou has done?' And the woman said, 'It's the serpent that beguiled me, and I did eat.'"
See, nobody's accepting responsibility where, you know, Adam blames the woman, the woman blames the serpent, and God was like, "Dude, will somebody just accept responsibility"? Do you understand what happens in relationships when somebody accepts the responsibility? I wonder what would have happened in the garden that day if Adam would have just started and said, "Lord, my bad. I should have been who you called me to be, and I should have been in a more leadership position. I should have opened my mouth and said something, but I just sat there and, my bad. I"... Here's what I think would happen. All of that stuff that happened when they ate of the fruit, I believe God would have said, "Over".
You know what happened in relationships when people start accepting responsibility? There's no need to continue on in conflict. "Over. I've accepted the responsibility to do that". But when you're always feeling under attack, and what is that? When you're always feeling like, you know, "It's not me", I'm going to teach on narcissism. "It's not me, but it's you," then the relationship cannot flourish no way no how. So finger-pointing and fault-finding only do what? They magnify the problem when you finger-point and when you fault-find. Accepting responsibility does not mean taking all the blame for everything. That's not what I'm talking about. It means to sit down and with an open attitude examine the issue. They might say something, "Okay. Well, let's talk about it. Okay, yeah. This right here; yeah, that's me. This right here, I could have been doing better there".
And before you know it, the other person's willing to do the same thing. "Well, I guess I could have, you know, handled that with a little bit better attitude and"... And before you know it, you're working through a thing. How many of you ever been in an argument or a disagreement with somebody and forgot what the real issue was and you start ending up talking about, "You the one. You always. You never". Okay? See, it is to accept, when you're accepting responsibility, it is to accept personal responsibility for and to work to change those things that hinder building relationships, and that works with everything.
And so the question I have for you, first of all, are you willing to accept responsibility or will you continue to communicate this message, whether you, you know, verbalize it or not? Are you willing to communicate the message that, "I'll accept responsibility, I'm not going to say it's you, it's me"? Because in every dance we can all take responsibility for the step. Amen? That is if you're willing to accept responsibility and get away from this self-protection deal. "Well, I feel like I got to protect me". No. God is your protection. God will take care of you. Amen? You got that? Those of you at home, you got that? Now let's go to the next one. I'm so excited because it appears like I just got through this one and didn't take 30 minutes to do it. Amen? All right, this is big. This is big.
Number five, how do we deal with the conflict in relationships? We got to deal with that, I call it breaking the deadlock. What it really is, it's also referred to as the silent treatment, the silent treatment. The silent treatment that can happen between friends, relatives, husbands, and wives; and the silent treatment, if you're not careful, can be hurtful. It can be traumatic. I mean, come on. If you've ever been married before, something happen, you had the silent treatment. And the man goes through all kinds of dealings with his manhood, and a woman goes through stuff. And it can be devastating because when you're not talking, Satan is. When you're not speaking, the devil is. When conflict escalates to a certain level, people stop talking to each other.
And I mean church folks, too. Church folk, I know church people who purposely sit on the left side of the Dome so they don't have to see the person on the right side of the Dome, and God help them if they got to go to the bathroom at the same time. People stop talking to each other. So what happens? Is that okay? Is it okay? I mean, you're friends. First of all, first of all, you're Christians. All right? And secondly, you're friends. And always go back to, "First of all, I'm a Christian". I always go back to, "First of all, I have agape love".
See, if you're going to love them 'cause they said something you didn't like or agreement, that's not agape love. Agape love says that you don't have to do something to get that love. It's an unconditional love. Agape love doesn't say, it stops because, you know, you're a Republican and I'm a Democrat. "Oh, you're a Republican? Oh, that means you voted for him"? "Oh, you're a Democrat. That means, I don't think we're going to be eating this weekend 'cause you going to told me everything I need to know about you". That's wrong. And yet our entire nation, including the church, is divided 'cause we don't know what agape love is. We join the world in this deadlock where we go through the silent treatment and so what happens is we quit the church, we move out the house, we become irritated, and then we avoid each other 'cause we don't know how to handle the silent treatment.
I remember when Taffi and I would do the silent treatment. Sometimes it would go on for days. And then when we finally started talking and got it fixed, I was so tired I didn't know what to do. I'm like, "This is exhausting. This is exhausting. Whatever you want to do. Cuss me good if you have to, but don't be quiet. Don't do the silent". You can't sleep. You're bumping into each other. You depend on her for stuff. And I couldn't find my keys and we weren't supposed to be talking and I said, "You seen my keys"? "Right here".