Thus far, we have taken a look at two relational resolves, by which we as members of the church choose to relate with others: Honor and Healthy Conflict. Today, we break down Relational Warmth, and how to apply it practically and lovingly in our lives.
Our third relational resolve encourages us to decide in advance that we are going to be warm to others. Specifically, this looks like enthusiasm, affection, and kindness in engaging every person we encounter. God’s kindness is abundantly toward you. It is unchanging. It is mighty and ferocious and huge, and therefore we are called to love and warmly engage others greatly as His children.
He loves to meet our disappointment with His kindness, and He loves to meet our failure with His kindness. For you, specifically and intimately, His arms are wide open, and He desires to overwhelm you with kindness.
Luke 15:1-6 tells the Parable of the Lost Sheep, a depiction of the kindness of Jesus: “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”
His affections are toward you. It is out of His abundant kindness that we are encouraged to be warm to all others.
Colossians 3:12-15: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32.
1 Peter 3:8 furthers yet the importance of biblical warmth, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble”.
As believers, we are being carried through the process of sanctification, to look more like Jesus every day. To have the process of sanctification working in us means that we have the power and authority to love others outlandishly. Being warm with other people is the calling on our loves by the will of God. Being relationally warm is more than a suggestion; to have a calling by God over our lives is grand beyond measure! We put on the clothing of relational warmth because we have first received it immensely from Jesus.
We live in Seattle (though this notion of coldness toward others certainly is not limited to Seattle alone), where indifference tends to characterize relationship. When did being cold become trendy? When did being “nice” become synonymous with being “boring”? This isn’t true at all! Being nice doesn’t mean we are boring; rather, it means we are clothed in the Spirit, representing kindness and affection and enthusiasm toward everyone. We, as people of God, reject the idea that the Seattle Freeze is the norm, and instead hold ourselves to a standard of heavenly norm.
As with our other relational resolves, there are 4 Practicals for Relational Warmth:
- Acknowledge people
- Use eye contact
- Use physical contact
- Practice inclusion
We haven’t done anything to earn God’s warmth toward us. Therefore, we are open and welcoming to others in return, because it is a gift that has already been given to us. We choose to put on relational warmth because of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are His chosen ones, holy and beloved, called to live as Jesus lives.
Galatians 5:22-23 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
We are called to aggressively, purposefully, intentionally love others, because this is exactly how we are loved by Him.