In the Relationship Workshop, we spoke of the need for sincerity as key to cultivating growth in relationships. I personally have failed many times in this in my relationships with others, but I seek to improve.  I hope you will, through the biblical insight and actions shared in this article, and subsequent articles, join us in improving our sincerity in relationships. GOD CULTIVATES RELATIONSHIP THROUGH DEMONSTRATION OF SINCERITY “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) God proved His sincerity to us by sacrificing his greatest treasure for us, His own Son. His amazing sacrifice not only paid the price for our sin, but won us to Him.  He gave us a very convincing demonstration that our good and gain was His intention.   He was seeking for us far more than He was seeking from us.  He proved His sincerity.

\”We love because God first loved us.\”  (I Jn 4:19)

The more we understand what a great sacrifice He made for us, the less we doubt His love for us and thus the less we resist relationship with Him.  That is the power of sincerity in relationships.  You and I need that if we are going to cultivate growth in our relationships with others. We must seek opportunity to demonstrate our love sacrificially.  The greater the sacrifice, the greater potential for sincerity proven.
Just yesterday my wife, who is recovering from surgery, said to her sister, “I am really struggling with pain and suffering. There are times I am impatient with Tim when it is hard for him to know what I need.  But He continues to try and is doing a great job at handling my grumpiness.”   I passed her test of sincerity by responding with unconditional kindness to her grumpiness.  Sadly, however, there have been many times sincerity has called for sacrifice in my relationships with her and others, and I have failed.  It is at those times, I have been more interested in my good and gain than their good and gain.
God proved that He sincerely loved me by dying for me when He had the most to lose (His precious Son), and the least to gain (me – an active enemies, child of wrath by nature – Eph 2:2-3). God has indeed passed the sincerity test of all of us who are now in relationship with Him as their Savior, Lord, and friend.  He has proven that His intentions toward us can be trusted (Eph 1:5).  Trust of intentions is key in cultivating growth in relationship, that is why sincerity of love is the essential quality for growth in relationships. God has demonstrated this key to relationships supremely in the gospel.
\”He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?\” (Rom 8:32)
If sincerity of love is that which most cultivates growth in relationship, then, as shared in the Relationship Workshop, the sin of covetousness is that which most cultivates the destruction of growth in relationships. Covetousness in the heart makes us conditional in our relationships. Covetousness says, \”I want something from this relationship so bad I cannot remain unconditionally patient and genuinely kind unless I get it from you.   When you withhold or threaten to interfere with that which I covet, I will withdraw my kindness from you or vent my fury on you.\”
Covetousness makes me \”needy\” in relationships, because it says, much like Rachel in the Old Testament, “Give me children or I die!”  (She was coveting after a baby because Leah her sister had already bore Jacob children and she could not.  Indeed we see that covetousness makes demands on relationships.)   We each have a list of things that our covetousness can and has caused us to feel that we need from others.  And consequentially, when we don’t get from them we will die in our love for them.  Indeed some of us have already let covetousness kill love for a person.  The truth is that if I need you or need something from you, I really am incapable of loving you  – for love is giving not getting (Acts 20:35).  When we give to others out of covetousness we are saying, \”I give to you because I covet and feel I need something from you, not because I care about you as a person – your good and gain of secondary importance to my own.\”

If we would be sincere than no relationship in our life must create our joy, but only contribute to it.  If what people do for us is the basis of our joy in life then covetousness has made idols out of relationships.   God didn\’t send His Son into the world because He needed us, but more so because we needed Him.  Our response of faith and love in return does indeed greatly increase His joy, but it did not create it (John 17:5).  Our joy will be found, first and foremost, in cultivating gratitude over what Christ has given us in relationship with Him and cultivating obedience in what Christ instructs us to do in relationships with others.
\”If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.\”  (John 15:10-11)
I must have a source of satisfaction and contentment outside of my relationships, if I am going to possess a foundation of sincerity within my relationships.  I must already possess a foundation for happiness and contentment outside of what others can give me.  For the Christian, that is to be relationship with Christ.    In the next article I will address how to develop this foundation for joy outside relationship with others. I will address one of the major anecdotes to covetousness–  expel covetousness through gratefulness as per Ephesians 5:3-5.

But as we end for now, let me encourage you to do two the following two things if you are serious about growing in God-like sincerity:

1) Spend about an hour evaluating your relationships to others – especially with your \”closest\” neighbors (break it up into two segments if you need to). Seek to list several ways you have failed to show sincerity in a relationship by failing to show sacrifice consistently. Do this especially for the more difficult relationships of your life, where it is most difficult to remain sacrificial in love. Give specifics as you write out what you did not do and what you should have done. Don\’t just generalize. Don\’t assume the big things are the most destructive. (i.e \”I forgot their birthday, anniversary, etc. \”) Look for small ways you are communicating insincerity. (i.e. \”I did not attentively or enthusiastically listen when they shared something with me about their day.\”) We need to see in detail how we are falling short if we are going to see in detail how to make changes.  Pray as you do this for God to open your eyes so that you can learn to share more fully in the glory of His love for people. The development of sincerity in us is the greatest obstacle to our joy and God’s glory.
2) Fill out a reading report for the above article that you may more absorb, remember and apply what you have learned? You can print this out for yourself at the following link: Reading Report Assignment Link.

May our Lord give you insight as you consider the things that have been shared (2 Tim 2:7).

(If this has encouraged you and you would like to grow more in these things, click to access the entire Relationship Workshop Videos and Outlines.)