Relational Needs? Active Empathy.

Russell Minick

Be ye “telos”… relationally.  Matthew 7:1–12

The Beatitudes built a pattern with the main point being: grow up like your Father in Heaven (MT 5:48).  Concerns about our most basic needs [physical, relational and spiritual] are then addressed.  Matthew 7:1-12 is addressing some the concerns we typically have which distract us from taking responsibility to grow up relationally; our obsession with what is wrong with others instead of responsibility for who we are.

What will not help you grow up in relational maturity [Mt 7:1-6]
  • Judging gets you judged – not matured (telos love)
  • Fault finding in others is the wrong priority (telos love)
  • Pushing pearls to those who don’t want them leads to unnecessary problems (not telos love).
What will help you grow up in relational maturity [Mt 7:7-12]
  • Asking, Seeking, Knocking – relationally sharing requests purposefully
    • Even sinful people often respond well to requests
    • God is even more healthy in receiving requests
  • Working at being the kind of person the world needs
    • This is more effective than trying to fix others
    • This is what God has been saying we should work on

Maturity is the goal; God and his ways the focus

The goal is for me to grow up like my Father.  Worrying about physical needs does not help me grow up like him.  Rather, I should make my priority trusting that my Father is in charge and that his righteousness is essential to responsible pursuit of physical needs.  Likewise, trying to fix others is not the way for me to care for my relational needs.  I have responsibility for who I am.

And who am I?  Am I a person who is controlling, as if I were ruling more than some might guess?  Or, am I humble enough to relate to people as if they have authority over themselves?  Am I willing to make requests?  Am I willing to work at learning from God how to be the kind of person the world needs?  The more we are this way, the better for us as individuals, and for all of us in community.

Active empathy is key to relating to God and others.  The final section of the sermon on the mount explains rooted in God spiritually such that this happens more and more.

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