The poet John Donne spoke truthfully when he coined the phrase, “No man is an island.” One of the first things God says in the Bible is that it’s not good for man to be alone. We were created in the image of a relational God, with the ability, even the deep need, to be in relationship with others; family, friends, and marriage.
The friendship of Jonathan and David gives us a glimpse of what God can bring into a relationship when we make a commitment to be ALL IN relationally.
- I will commit to covenant, not contractual relationships.
- I will seek to model Jesus in serving others.
- I will work for unity in my relationships.
- I will love unconditionally in my relationships.
- I will be a covenant keeper in my relationships.
- I will willingly sacrifice for others in my relationships.
Full Sermon Script
If you’re just joining us for the first time, welcome, or you’ve been away the last couple of weeks, we’ve been in a series we’re calling ALL IN
The power of commitment in our lives
the nobility of being a commitment-making, commitment-honoring, commitment-keeping people
Today we’re looking at an area that has caused some of the greatest pain, fear of commitment, some might say loss of freedom…
But is also the source of deepest connection …. RELATIONSHIPS
don’t tune out
Not just a marriage talk, only about romantic relationships
God has best practices for ALL of our relationships
One of the first things God says in the Bible is that it’s not good for man to be alone
it was good, it was good, it was good … not good, not complete yet
God created us with the ability, even the deep need, to be in relationship with others
17th century poet John Donne spoke truthfully when he coined the phrase, “No man is an island.”
expresses the idea that we do badly when isolated from others and need to be in relationship with others in order to thrive.
We are created in the image of God—and God is Himself intensely relational.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit co-exist as a perfect, mutually-loving, mutually-supportive, in-covenant community
This means is that we, who are created in God’s image, the Imago Dei, cannot help but need relationship—without it our lives become distorted.
Now, there’s two relational trends that are growing …
Epidemic of Loneliness (article)
Loneliness – An emotional state created when people have fewer meaningful relationships than they would like – relationships that make them feel known and understood.
not that people don’t have enough relationships, but enough meaningful relationships
50% said they don’t have meaningful relationships, they’re lonely
41% said that TV or pet was their main source of company
13% said they had zero meaningful relationships
Loneliness has been closely linked to a range of conditions, including heart disease, strokes and Alzheimer’s
For some, they can’t find or don’t have a meaningful relationship.
Add to that relationships today are unlike any other time in history really
people are connecting digitally
Social Media … friend counts, number of likes, swiping left or right
Overheard, “Wait, I think I know him. We’re friends on FB.”
“We dated for eight Instagram posts”
For others, relationships are viewed as expendable, conditional, expedient
Contractual … I’m committed as long as this is fulfilling, meeting my needs, your living up to my expectations
As soon as it’s not … Ghosted …
Here’s a way to think about it …
A contract is an agreement between two parties around services
Ex: Your cell phone, you entered into a contract with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon
You went into a store, agreed to a plan providing the services you wanted for a certain price and period of time.
You signed that contract and then you got your first bill. Now you find out that little plan of yours has all sorts of surcharges, and you thought you were going to be paying $80, you’re now paying $800 a month.
But you had an exchange of goods. That’s contractual. It’s not relational at all.
You are not in a relationship with Verizon. You’re in contract with Verizon.
Now, if your phone stops working, the first thing you’ll do is … PANIC, because everyone knows if you go too long without checking your Tik-Tok feed or jumping on the MLB app to track the start of spring training, that the world will stop.
After that, you call Verizon, demand they get your service back up since you’re paying for it. You’re not going to pay for a service that is not being provided for you.
Same would be true if your statement came and you just didn’t feel like paying, then a second notice reminding you that you agreed to pay a certain amount by a certain time. Finally, one day your phone is dead. Why? You didn’t keep up your end of the contract.
That’s contractual relationship.
There are actually relationship contracts!
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla have one
He agreed to take her on a date once a week and spend 100 minutes of alone time a week with her outside the office or his apartment.
Pastor and author Tim Keller, says this “We will NEVER MAKE IT IN LIFE unless we chose, grow and keep good (relationships).”
You can thrive financially without relationships.
You can live a long life without relationships.
You can build a reputation among your peers without relationships (might not be the one you think).
You can have power and prestige without relationships.
But you will not experience the fullness of life apart from relationships.
I want to set a starting point for us …
Jesus was not immune to navigating the dynamics of relationships …
Matthew 20:20-27 gives us a conversation Jesus had with a mother, her two sons, and the rest of the disciples that begins to define the foundational attitude of relationships
20Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
set the scene … mom’s working it here … just a simple favor I’m asking
James and John were in the “inner three” closest to Jesus (also Peter, Matthew 17:1), they were his cousins
it may well have been that they felt this close relationship entitled them and they were going to use that relationship for their gain
you know the feeling, when you’re getting buttered up, maybe someone’s trying to slide something past you
21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
Jesus had previously said (19:28) the Son of Man would be sitting on his throne (authority) and those who have followed (12 disciples) being in seats of authority with him
mother of Zebedee’s sons asking for them to have priority position
22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
24When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.
other disciples get sideways about it… shows they were really no better … the two brothers just thought of it first
But notice where Jesus takes the conversation…
25Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—
Jesus gives an example…
“rulers…lord it over them” – hold in subjection, become the master of … the idea of the use of force or power
We’ve all either experienced this personally or know first hand someone who has in a marriage, in a job, in a friendship
the father who demanded absolute obedience or face absolute discipline
the supervisor who belittles your performance but will use your contributions to further their advancement
the spouse who doesn’t allow you a voice in the decision making process within marriage
the friend who needs you at the drop of a hat in the midst of crises but is never there for you
this is the abuse of relationship … one-sided or one-way dynamic where one is taken advantage of, held down
Jesus flips it around, and in essence says greatness if found in how we relationally treat others
to be great you serve others, you put others ahead of yourself
Relationships are not about control; they are about commitment.
You’re interested in what you can get … I want you to be interested in what you can give
Notice how he ends …
28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
if anyone could have exercised authority, Jesus was the one … but he didn’t
The Son of God who came as the Son of Man – in humanity and humility
What’s it mean for us? Jesus has experienced the same relationship dynamics that we do
He defining the relational attitude
When we’re ALL IN Relationally, Relationships are not centered around what we GET, but what we GIVE
Now already this is throwing some of you
not what’s been modeled for you, what you’ve learned, nor how you operate
you’re right … it’s different
Now, this has radical impact on every relationship in our lives …
What does that relational attitude look like?
What are the qualities of a relationship that I can trust, lean into?
One of the best examples we have of this relational dynamic is seen in the OT…
(set the background of Jonathan and David in 1 Samuel)
1 Samuel 17:57-58
57As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head. 58“Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him. David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”
1 Samuel 18:1
1After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became…
Stop and think about this … the heir of the throne has been watching a relationship grow between his father and a shepherd boy
Are you thinking what I’m thinking Jonathan might be thinking?
Do I have a competitor for the throne?
Can I trust this person?
Some of you relate because of your social position or wealth or success
people want to get close to you for their own personal gain
there’s an inner distrust because you’ve seen it before …
Some of you have felt this because of unhealthy relationships in the past
1 Samuel 18:1
1After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David,
Now, this reads like BOOM! Instant friendship, instant relationship
this is my conjecture …
Jonathan had been watching … his character, his integrity, the dynamic of his relationship with the king
all of that lead up to this moment
one spirit (knit together) – most often used in context of binding two pieces of rope
when used of two people, it implies they have an inseparable devotion or commitment to each other
Jonathan felt a bond with David, a solidarity
Relationships have a bond of unity.
Psalm 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
Philippians 2:2 make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Not just about commonalities …
This is a deeper connection of purpose
1 Samuel 18:1
1…and he loved him as himself.
A religious expert asked Jesus what the great commandment in the Law was
Jesus replied (Matthew 22:37-39)
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
A loving relationship with God is of first importance; but loving relationships with others is second.
The Bible is all about these two relationships.
Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Relationships are built on love
God put us here to do two things: to learn to love God and to learn to love other people.
Life is not about acquisition, accomplishment, or achievement.
It’s about loving well
And love is not limited to marriage relationships …
Guys … it is not an assault on our masculinity to love each other
1 Samuel 18:2-3
2From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. 3And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
made a covenant … Not a word we use often today
The word can sound a little archaic … we don’t really have a category for it today
Modern society centers everything around experiencing happiness and fulfillment of the individual self
people and things are a means to an end to achieve your personal sense of fulfillment and happiness
In relationships: I will be what I should be as long as/to the degree that you are what you should be, and if you’re not … I’m out
covenant – a relationship sealed with a solemn agreement
it’s like a contract, but more … built around relationship
It’s a relationship more loving than a marriage, yet more binding than a merely personal relationship
there are blessings if the covenant is kept, penalties if the covenant is broken
Relationships are secured by a covenant
In a covenant, I will be what I should be whether you are what you should be or not
In a covenant, the relationship is more important than the individual self
I will be committed to your needs before my own, even if it’s not meeting my needs at the moment
Not all relationships are or should be covenant relationships
example: you and your trainer (find a better, make the switch); you and your mechanic
someone you know but do not share a strong bond or connection with
Covenant relationships are God’s design and model for relationships
Matt said in Week 1 that “God never enters a commitment in a casual way.”
In the narrative of God interacting with us, covenant describes a deeper level of commitment
A covenant turns something ordinary into something very special.
A covenant is something that God takes much more seriously, as it involves not just two people, but also God
In Biblical culture, covenants were sealed and ratified by the fatal cutting of an animal life and shedding of blood. Both parties involved in the covenant would then customarily “pass through,” walk through, the stream of blood and say “be it done to me as has been done to these animals if I should break this covenant.”
Our best example of the Biblical picture of covenant is found in Genesis 15, when God instituted His covenant with Abraham.
Gen 15:9-10 9So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” 10Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.
An astounding thing from the example in Genesis 15 is Abraham did nothing but go to sleep. God is the one who passed through the blood and took the full weight of the agreement on Himself.
God has been, and always will be, faithful to fully execute all of His promises, even when we are everything but faithful.
That’s a covenantal relationship. We as Christ-followers are in covenant one with another.
What does that look like?
One way to see this is in the 59 “one another’s” found in the New Testament
We’re told 17 times to love one another. It tells us 5 times to serve one another. Accept one another. Strengthen one another. Help one another. Encourage one another. Care for one another. Forgive one another. Submit to one another. Commit to one another. Build trust with one another. Be devoted to one another. Be patient with one another. Be interested in one another. Be accountable to one another. Confess to one another. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be conceited to one another. Do not pass judgment to one another. Do not slander one another. Instruct one another. Greet one another. Admonish one another. Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Meet with one another. Agree with one another. Be concerned for one another. Be humble to love one another. Be compassionate to one another. Do not be consumed by one another. Comfort one another. Be kind to one another. Live in peace with one another. Carry one another’s burdens.
Covenant says, “I’m going to become this for you. I pray to God that there will be reciprocity there, but if there’s not, I’m still going to do my best to “one another” you in this way.”
1 Samuel 18:4
4Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
This is literally giving the shirt off his own back!
This was a costly relationship … Jonathan was giving up his throne, his inheritance, the plan for his future
His desire for David was greater than his desire for himself
He puts aside his own self-interest for that of David.
Relationships require sacrifice
A relationship of any kind cannot survive for long if any person involved leans towards self-centeredness and is unable to put aside their own preferences for the sake of the other.
There is no relationship without sacrifice. A relationship where one person gives so much and the other doesn’t do anything in return is wrong. At the same time, someone who expects the other to do so much, but is not willing to sacrifice themselves isn’t good either.
A genuine relationship involves sacrifice: time, resources, emotional energy, preferences,
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends
The beauty is this … in mutually sacrificial relationships, there is also mutual satisfaction
We find genuine joy by having less of our lives revolve around ourselves. When we pour ourselves out for other people it helps us grow and it helps us bring us genuine joy.
Sacrifice sounds hard. It sounds uncomfortable … The truth is, it is!
Here’s another truth … Relationships aren’t designed for selfish people
What Jonathan did for David, Jesus has done for us. He’s brought us into relationship.
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
this is a covenant relationship
Jesus came because of relationship … what had been lost when sin broke and forever marred the relationship between God and us
He came to fulfill, to complete the covenant God had made
To demonstrate for us what being ALL IN RELATIONALLY looks like lived out
It’s not a question of what relationships God wants for us
God wants nothing but the best, most honoring, mutually fulfilling relationships for us
ALL IN Relationally is about the type of relationship God wants from us
God cares about the relationships you have, but he cares more about the type of relationship person you are.
Relationships were never intended to be solely about what we get from them but rather what we give to them.
We alone, of all the creatures of God’s creation, were made in the image of a commitment making, commitment keeping God.
One of the most outstanding examples of image should be our relationships.
John 13:34-35 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The way we commit to others in relationship should be so distinctly different than the rest of the world, that it automatically identifies us as follower of Jesus.
So imagine if in your relationships you did this? Committed to these relationship characteristic
Imagine how it would change your marriage, work relationships, friendships, family dynamics
What relationships in your life are hurting because you’ve been treating them like contracts rather than covenants?
What if instead of self-interest or fear or convenience, we leaned ALL IN RELATIONALLY
If you’re looking for true, lasting, fulfilling relationships, then give that to others.