The Role of Personal Relationships


A Study of Galatians 2:1-10

God works through every believer to reveal Christ to those who do not yet know Him. Every member of the Body of Christ (the church) is assigned an area of ministry according to his or her giftings. God is working through this ministry to build up the church and strengthen our fellowship with one another. God does this so that Christ is known to everyone we encounter. Those people, in turn, will want to be a part of our fellowship in Christ – sharing in God’s goodness and grace, and experiencing God’s love and His transforming power. The clearest evidence of God’s ministry assignments can be seen through our inter-human relationships.

Pastor Paul from the pulpit

Can you see the hand of God or God’s activity in and around you? When did you last say …

– “I see God” or …

– “Wow! Look at God” or …

– “God did such and such in my life”?

Many have told me they have never seen God or felt His presence. This leads to a distorted view of God, life and ministry. People who have never witnessed God’s activity in and around them tend to be cynical and doubtful. If they are Christians, they may find themselves in a state of apostasy, or falling away, as life’s pressures mount and their world grows darker.

God’s activity is visible in various ways. One is through ministry, which R. C. Sproul defines as divine resources meeting human need. God works through the human agency to dispense His love, mercy, and grace. Ministry affords all who need God’s presence to come face-to-face with Him through His human emissaries.

We should also note that Christ works specifically in and through the life and ministry of believers to reveal God and meet needs.


For people outside the church, human relationships are perhaps the most visible and tangible way to see God’s activity in and around us.

Our text offers three areas where God works and where we should look for God’s activity.

The first is in our Personal Relationships. These are relationships we have with people who see us up close. These individuals have first-hand knowledge of our not-so-nice habits. These people can include our significant others, children, extended family, and close friends.

In verses 1&2, we are introduced to Barnabas, who was a co-worker in ministry with the Apostle Paul. They worked, evangelized, and experienced hardships together. In short, they spent a lot of time with one another. And while they did not always agree, they were mutually supportive as they operated as a team. A third member of the team was a young understudy named Titus, who assisted Paul and Barnabas in the work of their ministry. In doing so, he learned about ministry and being a pastor from these senior pastors.

In close relationships, God works to promote teamwork. There is no “I” in team. Personal relationships discourage the lone-wolf mentality. By working together, there is less chance of life devouring us. It is through personal relationships that God works to provide us with companionship. God uses companionship to meet the human need for closeness, love, friendship, and sharing. Personal relationships offer encouragement. People who are close to us can read us and know our moods. They can pick us up when we are down. God also works through personal relationships to help us reason and arrive at the truth.

No matter how smart we think we are, we do not have all the answers, and sometimes we need a sounding board to discover that the bright idea we thought we had possibly was not so clever.

God works through personal relationships to remind us that we are not solitary creatures passing through life. We are mentors who must pass on what we have gained, offering guidance that fosters the development of others. Whatever we have learned and gained in this life should not die with us.


The second area in which we should look for God’s activity is in our Peripheral Relationships. These people are on the fringes of our lives, and see us from a distance. Examples are acquaintances, neighbors, and people at our jobs, in our church, or in other places we frequent.

As Paul, Barnabas, and Titus visited the Jerusalem church, they faced rumormongering, backbiting, and people slyly taking potshots at their ministry. It is interesting to note that the troublemakers did not know Paul personally. They thought he would crumble under the pressure. Paul, Barnabas, and Titus stood their ground.

In peripheral relationships, God is working to correct misperceptions and raise awareness. Believers need to be clear that inside and outside the church, people are watching us to see if we really believe what we profess. When people are watching you, your lifestyle will speak louder than your words. As we interact with individuals on the periphery of our lives, they are scrutinizing our character and our integrity. We must also be aware that no matter how righteous or close to God’s standard we live, we will always have critics. Someone somewhere will find something negative to say about us. However, liberated believers stand on the gospel, and are not swayed by the court of public opinion. If it is a question of pleasing Christ or someone else, believers who have experienced the power of Christ always strive to please Him.

Through peripheral relationships, God works to provide an accurate portrayal of what it means to be a believer in Christ. The Christian life is not a life of dos and don’ts; it is a life lived in the love of God’s forgiveness, not in fear of His retribution.


The third area we should look for God’s activity is in our Prospective Relationships. These are relationships that are still forming; they are in the embryonic stage of development. It is not yet clear how close we will become with such people. We may have met these folks in the past, but the friendship will manifest itself in the future.

Whereas James, Peter and John had been suspicious of Paul and his work, God opened their eyes. They saw that God was working in Paul’s ministry too. Once they realized this, they received Paul with open arms.

The things that impress us – level of education, social status, sphere of influence are examples – do not impress God. It is nice to surround ourselves with influential people. However, that should not be our goal because that, in itself, does not make us influential. Instead, we need to understand that God makes us influential by our faithfulness to Him and His work.

It is through our faithfulness that God draws people to us. As we labor for God’s kingdom, God empowers us. God is actively involved in our work for Him and, as we encounter people, they see and feel God’s presence in us, and are persuaded to join us.

In prospective relationships, God lays the foundation for the expansion of the Body of Christ – which is the church. Through prospective relationships, God works to bring different people doing different things together. He assigns each person an area of ministry that supports their gifting. Then, as we learn to embrace our differences, the grace (influence) of God manifests itself throughout the entire body.


So God is indeed working. He is working in us, through us, and around us. Just look around you. God is working through the Red Cross to provide disaster relief; through the Salvation Army to provide assistance, food and shelter to those who need; through medical technology to develop viable therapies, treatments, and cures for diseases previously thought incurable; through foundations, and philanthropic organizations to provide information and resources to help people improve the quality of their lives; and through diplomatic endeavors to bridge the resources of one nation with the needs of another.

We need to stop looking inward and start looking outward and behold the hand of God.

If you cannot see the hand of God or God’s activity around you, maybe you need to come to know His son, Jesus Christ, who will introduce you to God. Just say this prayer:

Almighty Father,

I know and acknowledge that I am a sinner. I repent, right now, of all my sins, and I am asking you to forgive me. You said in your Word, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). I am calling on the name of your Son, Jesus, to come into my heart and be my Savior.

You also said, “If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). I believe with my heart that Jesus died for my sins and arose from the dead so that I may have eternal life. I confess Him, right now, as my Lord.

I ask you Lord Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to live on the inside of me, and help me to live a life that is pleasing to both you and God, the Father.

In the name of Jesus, I submit this prayer


Sunday 26 July 2009

May God Bless You

1 comment:

  1. We have not been in the city for the summer so have missed attending Bethany and hearing Pastor Paul's sermons. I have enjoyed following his sermons on the website - thank you for posting them - this is a real blessing for all who read them.


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