Fostering Character-Building, Burden-Sharing Relationships

Proverbial Wisdom

Pastor Leroy Wiggins - August 18, 2019

Community Group Study Notes

  • Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
  • Read Proverbs 27:6, 27:9, and 27:17 out loud in your group. What wisdom do you gain from these passages in light of Sunday’s teaching?
  • Share in your group where having someone speak into your life has been beneficial to your faith walk and life.
  • Consider the relationship statement that we should be "authentic with all, transparent with most, and intimate with a few." Discuss the importance of each relationship category and how you can strengthen the "intimate with a few.”
  • What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?


Sermon Transcript

Well listen, good morning folks. My name is Leroy and I'm the campus pastor here at Cheektowaga, as well as the men's ministry pastor. And I have the awesome privilege to be able to speak to you this morning in our proverbial wisdom series. A couple of months ago, pastor Jerry had asked me, he said, "Hey, Leroy. we're going to do this series, proverbial wisdom and we'd love for you to speak into it. So pick a verse or two and just see what God does with it."

So I'm super excited about being able to do that for a couple of reasons. One, is I probably take a slow read through Proverbs, anywhere from two to four times a year. It's part of every single chapter of fight club where we ask the guys to, one chapter a day, open Bible, open journal, open heart, and allow God to just speak whatever he's going to speak as we slowly walk through that. And then the guys always pick some versus that they have to commit to memory around whatever may be going on in their life at a time that... so we can hide his word in our hearts so we won't sin against him.

So the guys do that. So that's awesome. So I'm like, great, "I'd love to do that." So, as I'm preparing for it though, I'm saying, "You know what, I want to invite God into this." So I'm going to take another slow read through Proverbs and God, whatever you've placed on my heart, whatever you put in my heart, man, let me give that to consideration of what I may need to speak about. So this isn't me doing my thing, but inviting the holy spirit to speak to me. So I did that.

And I'll tell you this, if you're familiar with Proverbs, that's kind of a dangerous thing to ask. Because there are some Proverbs that when you read them, man, you scratch your head if you've got to actually speak on it. So I'm like, "God, please don't choose this one here, whatever you do." Like this one. It's better to live on the corner of a roof than the live with a house with a quarrelsome wife. I would need to literally hear the voice of God tell me to speak on that one right there.

Now here's the deal. If you're a husband here and you just laughed, you're going to have a long ride home, man. That's all I can tell you on that one. So much is going to be said there on that right there. Then there are proverbs that speak to the heart of infidelity and adultery. What if God... Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, who has left the partner over youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. Surely, her house leads down to death and her past to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain passive life. That'll preach for sure, but he didn't choose that one for me.

What about maybe this one that speaks to the fidelity of the marriage. "May your fountain be blessed, may you rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving deal, a graceful deer. May her breasts satisfy you, always. May you ever be intoxicated with her love." Now that's one I know will preach on a Sunday. But none of those were actually the verses that stuck out with me. I actually landed on a passage of scripture that's really, really familiar to me. In fact, it's really familiar to most men. But let's be clear that it's not a verse that's only for men.

So I want to share it with you right now the verse that I selected. It's Proverbs 27:17. I have it in three different translations because my hope is that one of these translations might resonate with you a little bit more, that you place that one in your heart. So a couple of different versions of your translations. The ESV says, "Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another." The message translation, you use steel to sharpen steel and one friend sharpens another.

And then new King James says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." So I wanted, again, to do just three different translation. So I would encourage you as you read the Bible and the passage of scripture really grabs you, man, check out some other translations to make sure you keep the context of it and see what God would do that.

So, it took me a while to actually land on that verse, and it took me a while for this reason here, I'm just really familiar it. I have it stenciled on the wall in my office, and I've had the opportunity and the privilege to speak at several iron sharpens iron conferences in Western New York. So it's a verse that's really, really familiar to me, but I wanted to make sure that, okay, are you picking this because you want to pick and that you just want God to push, or did God actually land on this verse with you and asked you to speak on that? So I wanted to make sure I'm speaking on what God would want me to speak on.

Now, being in vocational ministry is super, super awesome. It's super powerful and it's just really cool to see the stories of what God is doing in the lives of people. We get to see that upfront, up close, the faithfulness of God when people are faithful to God, and we get to see where God has taken a mess and turned it into a message. He's taken a test and turned it into a testimony. He's done those things in the lives, and people bring that and they are obedience to what God will say. So we get to see the best of those stories like that. So it's really, really a privilege.

But then there's the other side of it as well. We also get to see the lowest of the low. We get to see where lives are absolutely devastated, where marriages have disintegrated, where careers have been totally destroyed, all because of things in life they haven't been... held up to Christ and been obedient to. So we get to see the highest of the high, and we get to see the lowest of the low. And usually, this is how some of this plays out.

More often than not, we'll get a call from a guy or girl that want to get together and have coffee. And when you're getting to talk a little bit about what's going on in their life, whatever that thing or those things or that behavior or that attitude, whatever that is, we start to talk a little bit about that and it becomes really, really evident soon, you're calling me in the ninth round of a 10 round fight and a lot has already happened, and wow.

So as we continue to have those conversations so late in the battle, so late, then I always get to these three crescents, these three questions I always ask. And the very first one is this, how long has this been going on, or how long has this been a part of your life? Or whatever it is, how long has this been part of your life? And most often, here's what we hear, a prolonged period of time. Years, even decades. We get to hear that this has been a part of your life in some way, shape or form for years, prolonged period of time. We rarely hear someone say, "Oh, about a month or two", "A couple of days", "A couple of weeks." It's some extended period of time.

So then we dive down a little bit deeper, and I want to ask the question, "Okay, well, well then why haven't you come to someone sooner overall of that time?" Guilt, shame, embarrassment. I can handle it myself, I thought, and pride. Sometimes just one of those five, sometimes it's three of the five, sometimes it is all five of those things. So we continue in our conversation to find out, to get to the heart of things. And then there's one other question that I always ask and it's this one here; who are you allowing to speak into your life around this? Who are you allowing to speak into your life around this?

And with men, it's almost pretty easy. It's almost even a no brainer. With men, here's what I hear, "Nobody." So this thing has been going on in my life for quite some time, is prolonged, I'm embarrassed to talk about it, and I'm bringing no one into it. Almost always hear that from men. But women, guess what? You're not off the hook. Because often, because my role has changed and my responsibilities have changed and I have the opportunity to speak to many more women, even though I'm the men's ministry pastor, I have that opportunity as well. So I'll ask those exact same questions to a woman.

And the first two are of what they are, but I ask the third question, and most women... Women are just more... They have more friends. They have a little bit deeper conversations of things of that nature, but that's just how they're wired. But here's the deal. When I ask who speaking into this, here's what I hear. "Well, I have some friends, but I don't share this." You hear that? "But I don't share this." So in essence, it's really not much different than what I'm hearing from the guys that speak that question as well.

So do I think that it's okay for me to be talking about Proverbs 27:17? You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend to sharpens and other. So in the short time that we have here this morning, there are a few things that I'm really hoping and I pray that happens, is that everyone under the sound of my voice and myself included... But here's what I love about this, is that as I prepare and as I get to share with you, I have to remember that I'm also preaching this to myself as well. So I'm saying this to you and I'm saying this me.

My hope and my prayer is that we will take away something from the message today that God will lay on our heart about the ability to have other people in our lives to help sharpen us. And then guess what? Imagine if we actually did it. So let us do what God what God is going to lay on our hearts this morning for sure. So there are a couple of things that separate the God of the Bible from other religions. And when we dive into the God of the Bible, we see a God, and we can speak about his omniscience, the God who is all knowing. We could speak about the God who is omnipotent, the all powerful God. There is none like him. We could speak about that.

We can also speak about the omnipresence of God, the God who, however he does it, is absolutely every single place in the world, in the universe at the exact same time. That is an awesome God right there. We can talk about that, and we can talk about many, many other attributes and characteristics of God. But when you talk about the little G gods of other religions, we hear of a god who is distant, a god who was cold and a god who is unknowable, versus the God of the Bible, who is ever present, who is loving and who has made himself known.

Listen to how he's made himself known here in John One. "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him, all things were made, without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." And then we go on, "The true light that gives light to everyone who is coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. Children not born of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son who came from the father full of grace and truth. And then no one has ever seen God, but the one and only son who is himself, God, and is in the closest relationship with the father has made himself known.

Man, that's awesome. Because what I hear there is I hear that God spared no expense. Even at the cost of his son, his son's life, God spared no expense to make sure that you and I could be in a relationship with him through Jesus Christ. You see, God didn't need us. He was already in the most perfect relationship that existed, God the father, God the son and God the Holy spirit; three in one. The perfect relationship, but God didn't need us. The cool thing is God wanted us. And God spared no expense to make sure that we had an opportunity to be with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

And I share that with you, I share that with because I want you to really understand that we have a relational God. And if God designed us in the image of himself, which he did, therefore that means that he made us to be relational as well. First and foremost, to be in a relationship with him, and then second, to be in a relationship with one another, all of this through Jesus Christ. So God wants us to be in relationship.

So let me just say this before we even go any further right now. If you're here this morning and you have entered into that relationship, if you have never put your faith, your hope and trust in the God of the Bible, the guy that offers forgiveness through Jesus Christ, redemption, restoration to be refreshed, to be saved, to have eternal life in heaven, man, if you have not done that, it's my hope and my prayer that you would do that today. That you would set aside the little G god and come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ whom you have life. So I pray that you would do that this morning.

I've been praying for that and just praying that that would happen. So I wanted to do is I want to take a quick walk through some other verses in Proverbs that point to us being able to have relationships with other people where we actually seek the wisdom. So we'll talk about some of those verses and then see the folly that comes when we don't allow other people to come into our lives and speaking to them. So it starts first with Proverbs 15:33. "Wisdom's instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor."

Now, we've seen this verse before in several of the other messages already. And the reason I wanted to start with that is because of this, because wisdom first starts with the fear and the reverence of God, of accepting God's word as is. That's his word, then that's what he says, and that's the fear and the reverence that we have to place for his word. But I also like the humility part because our heart has to be postured in humility, because if our heart is not postured in humility, guess what? Pride begins to set in. And once pride sets in, guess what? You aren't going to allow anybody into it, and you're not going to allow yourself out. Pride will take resident in our heart if we don't have humility in our lives.

But a heart can begin to change when we read Proverbs 18:15, that, "The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out." You see, the day to day complexities of life, the life situations that we find ourself, man, that tells us that we need to be in community with other people, that we need to bring other people into our lives so that they also can speak into those things. And we see this in Proverbs 15:22, that plans fail for our lack of counsel. But the hope here is that... But with many advisors, they succeed.

So as we bring other Godly people into our lives for wisdom, we can see their plan succeed. And then what comes from that is Proverbs 19. "Listen to advice and accept discipline. And at the end, that you will be counted among the wise." And we'll complete this with Proverbs 14:8, "The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception." There are times in our lives where a warning light kind of goes off.

If we're paying attention to our lives, if we have some self-awareness, there are times in our lives where we get a warning light that something's going on. Maybe it's an attitude that we have, maybe it's a behavior that we have, maybe it's a relational thing that just seems a bit on easy, but we often get a warning that kind of says, Hey, something is going on, that you need to pay attention to this and bring some other people into what might be happening. Because this warning light, it's flashing. I bet everybody now could look back at things that happened in their life and say, "Yeah, that there was a warning sign there that I decided to ignore." I've done it, I'm sure you've done it as well. I ignored that warning sign.

We didn't bring other people into it, and when we didn't bring other people into it to speak into our lives, then we end up with what we end up living and the consequences of whatever the negative consequences are of not bringing those things to light and having that addressed with some other people. But unfortunately, what typically happens with that is it's not only us that have to live with that, it's others that have to live with the fact that we didn't bring other people in, and they also have to live with the consequences and then the wake of bad decisions where other people could have helped us not make those decisions.

The warning lights that are going on in your lives right now, I would ask you to pay close attention to those. I ask now that you find other people to bring into your life so that you can work through whatever those things are, so you don't find yourself in a situation with all these negative consequences, which can be forgiven, but we'll all always cost. That warning light. Just to make sure I drive it that home little bit, I want to share my warning light story with you.

So, I remember several years back, maybe five, 10 years back, I had to go someplace. And I'm driving back and forth because I got to meet my family in Florida, and the warning light in my car goes on. It's like... Clicks on. I'm like, "Oh, goodness gracious." So I keep doing what I got to do. I'm driving here, driving there, warning light goes out. Must not mean I have a problem. So, went on the trip, came back home, warning light on again. Oh man, I got to get this thing looked at. A couple of days later, goes out. Must not have a problem. That should tell me I got a problem, but I'm like, "Must not have a problem."

This went on for months. Warning light on, warning light off. I don't have a problem. Warning light on, warning light... I don't have a problem. So, a little bit of time goes on and I got to go out of town. Yeah, you're probably saying, "Okay. Yeah. There you go. You went out of town with the car and it died on you." I wish it was that easy. I got everything I needed together, got it in the car, it doesn't fit in the car. I'll take my wife's car. So I took my wife's car, and what did I do? Gave her my keys to my car. What a good husband does, right? So I'm out of town and I get this call, my wife freaking out, "The car is dead and I'm not at home. I have no idea what to do." And I'm like, "Well, I wonder why that happened." I had ample opportunity for quite some time with a warning light going on in this car to get it fixed.

So now, what could have been like a $500 fix now cost me $4,000 to fix. $4,000 to fix this thing. But the bigger thing is it jeopardized my wife, that my failure to recognize that I needed to take action about something here has now cost my wife and could have cost more depending on what all that was. And I share that little story with you because there may be some warning lights going on in your life right now that you need to bring some other people into so that they can speak into that, so that you can be sharpened in that, so that others don't have to live and you do not have to live with the consequences of ignoring a warning light.

Now, my daughter was sitting over there for the first service, and I know why she was smiling, because she was like, "Well, you know that warning light is on again, dad." But I told her, "Listen, I got 200,000 miles on that car. Every light is on now." So if you're driving down the road and you see me pulled over, just pick me up and we'll keep right on going. But I share that to just really communicate that if there's a warning light going on in your life right now, man, bring somebody into that so that you can get some help with all of those things so you don't have to worry about that.

So here's my hope. My hope is that as we take that simple little proverb of iron sharpens iron, that we would take that to heart and then with urgency and with priority, begin to bring people into our life so that we can be sharpened and that we can sharpen other people. Because oftentimes, we need to speak into others' lives as well. So take a quick look at this graphic here. See a picture of something you're pretty familiar with? Two ways to sharpen a knife. You've got the block on the left here and you have a device on the right. The block on the left. Pretty simple. Back and forth, back and forth. A little bit of heat, a little bit of friction.

I'm starting to sharpen this knife a little bit. Back and forth, back and forth. And then I flip it over, and back and forth, and back and forth. A little bit of friction, a little bit of heat, now I have a sharp knife. Or you use the method on the right, and it's kind of just a V and you get both parts of the knife at any given time. You ignore that both sides are being sharpened. So here's the deal with the method on the left though. It's easy with the method on the left just to do one side, just to do one side of that knife and get it sharp or give it the appearance of being sharp and not turning it over.

And a knife that's not sharpened on both sides, you guys that cook, is not a safe knife and it's not a sharp knife, that both sides actually need to be sharpened. When we look at our lives, we look at these knives... But here's the deal. And here's why I give you that graphic, because I believe that many of us though, we're using the method on the left, but we're not being fully sharpened. That we'll expose ourself to those in our lives maybe a little bit, maybe 50%, maybe 60, maybe 70, maybe even 80%. But man, we're not flipping it over to get the other thing. We're not exposing the the depth or maybe the nature of what maybe going on in our lives.

We won't share it all. We'll share just enough, just enough to ease our conscious to say that, "Hey, I am sharing something," but also enough to keep somebody at bay so they can say the same thing. "Hey, he is sharing.", "Hey, she is sharing." But we won't go the full way to be fully exposed so that we can be fully sharpened. And that's why I wanted to give you that. That the hangups, the habits, the struggles that we have in life, man, we need to expose the whole deal. And as we expose those things, it's amazing what God will do when we're obedient to what he's called us to do about those things that are in our lives.

I recall here in the statement, as it relates to relationships, and I think you'll really like this and I think it's going to start to point us into where we need to go. I heard this through the women's ministry, so some of you may have already heard this or know this and know the source, I just can't recall who I heard it from. And here it is, that we need to be in relationships where we are authentic with all, transparent with most, and intimate with a few. I'll say that again, that we need to be in relationships where we are authentic with all, transparent with most, and intimate with a few. Man, that's some good wisdom right there.

You see, the authentic part makes really good sense. Who wouldn't want to be in an authentic relationship? Whether it's with a person you just met or it's someone that you've known for a while, who wouldn't want to be in a relationship that's authentic? We all benefit from authenticity in our relationships, and you get that. But then there is the next level of that where we are now transparent with most, and this may speak more into the small group community that you're in, that you're being transparent about the things that are in your life and what's going on and helping one another, growing closer in relationship with one another.

But then there's that intimate, the intimate few that are part of that relationship as well. And those are the ones that get the whole kitten caboodle. They get the whole enchilada, so to speak. That we have to have those last two categories of relationships in our lives, those that we are transparent with, as well as those who are intimate with us. Because when we have those last two relationships in our lives, we have relationships that can be characterized as these relationships that are character building, burden sharing relationships.

I'll say that again so you catch that. We need to have character building, burden sharing relationships with other people. Because to be honest with you, if we're not sharing our burdens with people, guess what? You're not growing in your character. You can get together and you can have community, but if you're not sharing your burdens, you are not growing in your character. Because we can talk about the good stuff all the time. Ask any guy, man, we can talk about the same Bills football game day after day, after day, after day, after day, but we won't share those other things that may be in our lives day after day, after day, after day. So we need to be able to share our burdens with one another, and those are the things that we absolutely positively need to do.

So you might be saying, "Okay, well, with these burdens, or with these things in me life, why don't I just go to God with them, just take it to the Lord in prayer?" Absolutely, positively, that's what we do need to do, take it to the Lord in prayer. Listen to Proverbs 28:13, "Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy." And we see also what Psalmers wrote in Psalms 32. "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy on me. My strength was sapped as in the heat of the sun. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and I did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord and you forgave the guilt of my sin.'"

So there's an acknowledgement that we do need to bring these things before the Lord. And it's right out of scripture, we are to bring these things before the Lord. Again, he's an ever present God. He's right there all the time anyway. But we confess those things to him so we can listen to him and let him appoint us to what we want and need to be doing based upon his word. But here's what I really like in James 5:16. "That therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

See, this is the active part of that confession, so yes, we are to confess to the Lord, but we're to confess to one another as well, to allow people to speak into our lives, to allow people to pray for us, to allow people to point us to the scripture that we need to be pointed to and also allow us to be pointed in other directions to other people so that they can help us as well. You see, if we're not in those types of growing relationships, if we're not in those character building, burden sharing relationships where we're sharing with people some of the intimacy that's going on in our lives, it's kind of like being the athlete, just being athlete that's got a little internal issue going on, but they're not letting the coach know about it, they're not letting the medical team know about it.

They're going to just hide that and just continue to do what they do. But give it a little bit of time, give it a little bit of pressure, give it a little bit of heat, give it just the right hit, that athlete's out for the count and everything is now exposed. And that's what happens to us when we conceal those things as well. When we conceal those things in our lives, the same thing happens; we get hungry, angry, lonely, tired, bored. All of those different things happen in our lives when we have this internal thing that's going on that we're not letting anybody in on, and with just the right time, with just the right combination, boom those things in our lives come out and now they're public to everyone, and now there's consequences that we have at that point in time. And that's when havoc is wreaked.

And when we keep those things inside, we start to get ridden with guilt and shame and embarrassment, and we think we can handle ourselves, and then the pride steps in and we don't allow anybody into those things, just like we talked about before. And that is one of the reasons why we talk so much about people being in community, in authentic community, in community groups as one another, so we can sharpen ourselves with one another, that people are in our lives that are being able to speak in to those things.

And see, here's the deal, God did not make us to be solo Christians, okay? He did not make us to be solo Christians. Solo Christians, and you know who you are... Solo Christians are no different than that cute little antelope on the African plain bout to get slaughtered at just the right time. That we have an enemy. We have an enemy that seeks to steal, to kill and to destroy. And when we aren't with other people in our lives, when we don't have those others around us, man, Satan's coming. Satan's coming and he's going to attack us. He knows exactly where, because the people that are outside of community, man, you're vulnerable. Do not put yourself in a situation of being vulnerable, be exposed so that you can be healed.

Listen to Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, "Two people are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who has no one to help them up." That's a simple little verse. And I remember when I first started serving in Kings World a long time ago, that was one of those verses that we had to memorize. It was kinda like, "Two people that are better than one, two people that are better than one. They can help each other with everything they do. They can help each other with everything they do."

I remembered it, and now you will too. You'll never forget that now. So, you should all remember, you are now in King's World. But I remember when I rededicated my life to Christ in 2001 after decades of running from the Lord. I grew up in a Christian home, mom and dad were rock solid, rock solid in their faith. They demonstrated it at home, they demonstrated it at church, in what they did, how they lived. Everything about them spoke of the gospel. And I'm super, super grateful because what that did is it laid a foundation, it laid a foundation that pastor Dionne talked about last week that parents need to lay.

But it gets to a point where a kid has to make... a young adult, has to make his own choice. So I chose and I accepted Christ at 13, and little by little I began to walk away from that. So decades had gone by, and there's a lot that crept into my life over those decades of being away from the Lord. So in 2001 when I rededicated my life to Christ, I found myself with stuff inside of my life, stuff inside of my head that was totally inconsistent with someone who was now following the Lord. And it wasn't until... it wasn't until I found a community of men, a community of men, that set ann environment of James 5:16 that allowed us to share with one another, to grow with one another. A group of men that lived out this verse of Galatians 6:2, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ."

You see, those guys in my life, they never allowed me to get to round nine. We never allowed each other to get to around nine because we were in each other's lives exposing all that needed to be exposed. So there was always another hard question coming. If you thought you got away with one question, man, there's another one coming and another one coming. All of those things helped us to make sure that we did not get to a round nine. All those things also made sure that, okay, now the other side, Leroy. Now the other side, Leroy, so that we're sharp all the way through.

At any given time, my buddy Luke can call. Full access Lu, ask what you want when you want, how you want, how often do you want. My buddy Eric, anytime. And I could go back, Hey Eric, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Where are you in this right here? So my buddy Scott, anytime, call me, I call you. If I look on my phone, Hey that's Scott, Oh, two o'clock in the morning. That's not probably not a good thing. But I'm there. But that's just the relationship that we have with one another and realizing that those are the character building, burden sharing relationships we have. And my hope and my prayer is that all of you will begin to have those types of relationships where you've got to trust a few people that have your number, literally and figuratively, so that you could work through all of those things that need to be worked through.

So, what does that then mean? Well, we need one another. We were made for one another. That we were made for one another. So what do you do with this now? There's always the now what of, what do you do with this iron sharpens irons? Well, there's a few groups of people that I want to speak to specifically, and maybe a few next steps that might help you start to get to these things. The first step is this, first group is this, that there are folks that know that they do not have those character building, burdens sharing relationships in their lives. There are people on the same level that say, you know you don't have those, that you don't have a trusted group of Christian friends in your life to speak those things to. You're not asking those questions and no one is asking you those questions at all either.

I need you to challenge, I want to challenge you and encourage you to begin to take steps this week, where you will find yourself getting closer and closer to a community of people that can help you out and that you could help out as well because they need you as much as you need them. So it might look like this for you if you will. Pray and ask God to help you overcome anything holding you back from getting in a community. Because there is something holding you back. Most people who are isolated and not in community, that's for a reason. So pray to God, ask him to move, whatever that reason is, out of your life so that you can enter in to a community, because that's where you need to be.

Next is list a few Christian friends and just grab coffee. No one doesn't know anyone. You all know someone who is a follower of Jesus Christ wherever they may be in their maturity level. But you know someone. I would strongly encourage you this week to give them a call, give her a call. Let's have coffee. Let's begin to at least walk down a path of where we can see where this might take us as it gets to the types of relationships that we need to have in our lives. And then lastly, for that group that's not in community, meet some of the folks that sit around you right now.

Every single Sunday, almost everyone sits, generally speaking, in the exact same spot. Get to know the people that are around you, because it's super likely that you are within arms distance of the next person that you could draw closer to that go draw closer to you to help have the relationships that you need to. Here's the deal, you've got my permission to be the campus pastor every Sunday that you're in here. I would love nothing more than, every single Sunday, to sit down with every single one of you. I would love nothing more than that. But that's not my job. It's our job, collectively, though, to do that.

So when you come in this campus on a Sunday morning, hey, I'm the campus pastor for the day, meet for people that are around you. Go grab one of those great Reesie cookies that we have out there. But meet the people that are around you. They need you and you need them as well. So that's for those folks who are not in a community. So get into the community sooner as opposed to later. And then there's another group of people, that you're the folks that are... you're in a community right now, you've got folks that you're authentic with; that's awesome. You've got folks that you're transparent with, that rocks as well. And you have some folks also in those few trusted folks that you're intimate with.

However, you hovering around that 80% mark. You've got them there and they've got you there, and that's good, but you're still not quite giving it all to them. My challenge and my encouragement to each of you in that situation to this week, just go grab them. You've already got those relationships. Take the next step to get to full intimacy with these individuals so that you can really sharpen one another. I've already had conversations with guys right after service here that talked about that, that, "Yeah, we are in a group of... We need a little bit deeper conversation, we need a little bit deeper..." And that and they're making plans to do that.

So if you're in a group, if you have those few, man, go at it this week. And it might look like this, pretty simple. Again, just grab your... and get together and increase that sharpening. Continue to ask one another with those questions that need to be asked to make sure that there is absolutely full transparency. So wherever that question leads to, there's always another question. So that's what I want you to get at for that right there.

Here's what I also like in Hebrews 13. "But encourage one another daily as long as it is called today so that none of you may be hardened by Satan's deceitfulness." And Hebrews 10:24 also speaks to the same thing of being together. "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day approaching." Man, those are rich passages of scripture that speaks to the necessity of being together with others in community. So make sure that you have that iron sharpens iron relationship going on.

But there's one more group that I want to speak to as well, specifically, one more group within the church where we need to talk about the sharpening of one another, and that's the sharpening between husbands and wives. That might be the awkward one, that might be the one that takes more sensitivity than anything, but we cannot overlook the sharpening of one another, that husbands and wives, we need to sharpen one another.

I have the privilege of doing a number of weddings on every year. In fact, I'm doing one tomorrow afternoon. And there's something that I say in all the weddings to the bride and the groom that I think reads really well, and it's this, will you commit yourself to your spouse's potential in Christ and usefulness in God's kingdom? That will you commit yourself to your spouse's potential in Christ and usefulness in God's kingdom? Basically that's saying that husbands, wives, hey man, we're responsible to help each other grow in their faith and to sharpen one another. We are responsible to do those things right there.

And maybe it boils down to saying that, okay, well, my wife is... she's more mature than me. Well, I'm a fight club guy and I'm going to say to that, so what? Let her help you to sharpen. She's only going to benefit from it, you're only going to benefit from it. Everyone will be blessed by that. Because the one thing she is for, she's waiting for you to take over that role. If your wife is more mature than you, that's what she's waiting for, the day that you step into that and begin to lead the family, to lead the marriage in a more godly way as you grow in maturity. It's not a race back and forth.

One of the things that I really have loved about being in fight club is all of the things that we are required to do and we do from our heart. And I get numbers of women that will send me emails that'll stop me and say, "Hey Leroy, I have never seen my husband like that before." I've had mother-in-laws say the same thing. Stop in the store, "Leroy, you're that fight club dude, right?" And I'm like, "Yeah.", "I've never seen my son-in-law like that before." And it's just rock-solid. So as we grow and mature in our faith, that's what we need to do. If our wife is more mature, man, come alongside one another and still sharpen.

Or maybe it's just the opposite, that maybe the husband is more mature than the wife, that happens as well. So as we love our wife like Christ loves the church, as we treat her gently and tenderly, hey, we help her to grow in her faith gently and tenderly as well. I want to make sure that as men, if God ever asked a question, "Hey, how did you help grow my daughter, your wife?" Man, we can answer that question. So men, no matter where you are... But if you're married right now, man, let me encourage you to step into this role that we need to step into as men and help lead in the manner that's consistent the way that a man who loves God. Help us to do that, please.

It goes to the other point that pastor Dionne was saying last week as well, that when husbands and wives grow like that, the environment that they create for their children is an environment where those children will be able to flourish. Yes, they have their own decisions to make, but it is an environment that they will be able to flourish. And so there's all benefits from a husband and wife coming together and growing together as well. And pastor Dionne also had an analogy that he used, is he used a pair of scissors or a big pair of sheers, if you will.

So picture the sheers. They're always connected. Sometimes apart, sometimes together, but always connected. But they'll destroy anything that comes in the middle of it. That's where we want to be. But that won't happen unless we're both sharp. So as husbands and wives, we continue to place ourselves in a position where we can be sharp for one another. Maybe this is what it looks like for a husband and wife. This week, you need to talk and decide what you can do together to grow in Christ. I don't know what that looks like for you, but talk together this week what it looks like for you both to grow in Christ together.

And then lastly, share how they can specifically help you. Share with your spouse what they can do to help you grow in their faith as well. Because we need to be reminded, and never forget this, that the stronger husbands and wives are, the stronger the families are. And the stronger the families are, the stronger the church is. And that's where we need to be, because see Satan, he's not worried about a big church, he's worried about a church that's unified. And we need to be unified with one another, unified with our family, unified as a church, and we can conquer everything. But we need to be together. And the thing again, I just want to stress, is to make sure that you are taking the next steps that you need to, to ensure that there's iron sharpening iron in your relationships.

Now let's take a moment and pray. Heavenly father, we thank you again so much for this morning and man, the opportunity to just dive into what it means to have relationships that help us to sharpen one another. But God, I want to go back to just the beginning where we talked about having a relationship with you, that that's the first and foremost relationship that we need to have. So maybe you're here this morning and you have yet to accept Jesus Christ as your savior.

If you've yet to step into the main relationship you need, man, I pray that you would do that today. We've got folks over in the fireside room that are just waiting to hear from you. They'd love to walk you through what it means to accept Christ as your savior. They'll give you a Bible, they'll give you a couple things to get started along with your first week as being a follower of Jesus Christ. But entering into that relationship is the most important thing that you will do in your entire life.

Then if you hear this morning, put aside the little G god and hangout with the folks in the fireside room and allow them to speak into you and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and your savior. And father, for the rest of us who have already accepted your son as our savior, we pray that whatever you have landed and wherever you have landed in our heart today, God, that we would take that to heart, that we wouldn't walk away from this message saying, "Hey, great message. I'll see you next week," but we will actually do what you've asked for us to do. That you've placed something in our heart that draws us closer to you, that draws us closer to one another in whatever the relationship capacity is, God, that we maybe we drawn closer to you to ensure that we have others in our life that are helping us to be sharpened and to look more like Jesus Christ. So father, we trust that you will do that. And in the precious name of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and savior, you all say, amen.

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Subject: Fostering Character-Building, Burden-Sharing Relationships

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