Interacting with the Sermon
Synopsis of the Sermon
Small Groups Pastor Andy Saperstein closed out the Fit for Life series with a message on getting relationally fit for life. Andy told us that a healthy relationship is not a “me-lationship” or even a “we-lationship,” but actually a “three-lationship.” Healthy relationships mean a focus on Jesus, ourselves, and the other person. Relational fitness means that Jesus is our focal point, we are growing and changing in our inner life, and we are dedicated to the church family that God has placed us in.
Andy also taught that relational health requires “exercise.” Just like physical fitness requires hard work and dedication, relational fitness requires hard work and dedication in the form of perseverance, truth, and physical and spiritual presence.
In 5 minutes or less, briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
Getting the Conversation Started
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
- What are one or two things from this weekend’s sermon that really stood out to you?
- How many of your relationships are truly “three-lationships?” In your relationships that aren’t “three-lationships,” which part of the three (Focusing on Jesus, focusing on your internal growth, focusing on others) do you find the most challenging? Why?
- Of the three forms of exercise needed for healthy relationships (perseverance, truth, physical/spiritual presence) which is the most challenging for you to stay committed to in your current relationships? If your current relationships are strong, can you see any places in unhealthy relationships in your past that might have lacked one of these things? If so, what effect did that have on the relationship?
Study Goal: What does it look like to have a healthy relationship in the face of extreme difficulty? One of the Bible’s best examples of a healthy, God-honoring relationship is the friendship of David and Jonathan. In this story we will examine David and Jonathan’s relationship for signs of a healthy “three-lationship” as well as the signs of relational “exercise” (perseverance, truth, and physical/spiritual presence) that leads to healthy relationships.
Context: We are going to look at 1 Samuel chapter 20. For those of us who know the Old Testament, we will recognize David as the greatest King in the history of the nation of Israel. David was anointed to become King when he was just a boy, while the reign of Saul, David’s predecessor, was still current. As David grew up he began to gain great fame as a commander in Saul’s army, defeating every foe he came up against (one recalls the story of David and Goliath) and capturing the hearts of the people. Saul was overcome with jealousy at the success of David and he feared for the security of his reign, and so he began to try and kill David, causing David to flee. Saul’s eldest son (and heir to his throne) Jonathan, however, loved David as though he were his own brother. As we open 1 Samuel chapter 20 we find David on the run and Saul in hot pursuit. David flees to Jonathan’s side to try and discern why his father is trying to kill him.
Read 1 Samuel chapter 20
1 Then David fled from Naioth at Ramaha and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to take my life?” 2”Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without confiding in me. Why would he hide this from me? It’s not so!” 3But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the LORD lives, and as your live, there is only a step between me and death.” 4Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.” 5So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon festivalb and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. 6If your father misses me at all, tell him, ‘David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his home town, because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan. 7If he says, ‘Very well,’ then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure that he is determined to harm me. 8As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the LORD. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?” 9”Never!” Jonathan said. “If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn’t I tell you?” 10David asked, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?” 11”Come,” Jonathan said, “let’s go out into the field.” So they went there together. 12Then Jonathan said to David: “By the LORD, the God of Israel, I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13But if my father is inclined to harm you, may the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away safely. May the LORD be with you as he has been with my father. 14But show me unfailing kindness like that of the LORD as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family – not even when the LORD has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth. 16So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD call David’s enemies to account.” 17And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself. 18Then Jonathan said to David: “Tomorrow is the New Moon festival. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. 20I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. 21Then I will send a boy and say, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,’ then come, because, as surely as the LORD lives, you are safe; there is no danger. 22But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then you must go, because the LORD has sent you away. 23And about the matter you and I discussed – remember, the LORD is witness between you and me forever.” [In v. 24 – 40 Jonathan goes to the New Moon festival and does as David told him, and Saul indeed loses his temper with Jonathan. Jonathan goes back to the field to meet with David and shoots the arrows, saying to the boy, ‘Isn’t the arrow beyond you?’ signifying to David that he should flee, as they had agreed in v.22.] 41After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together – but David wept the most. 42Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, “The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.
a A city north and slightly west of Jerusalem. The birthplace of Samuel and Saul.
b The consecration of each new month with a festival consisting of various offerings that were to be made at each new moon during the year. See Numbers 28:11-15.
- How do David and Jonathan model the first part (focus on the Lord) of a healthy “three-lationship?” (vv. 12-16, 42. Their friendship is rooted in the Lord. They understand that the Lord holds them accountable for how they treat each other. In fact, the Lord is the very witness to not only their own relationship, but also the future relationships between their descendents!)
- How do David and Jonathan model the second part (focus on ourselves) of a healthy “three-lationship?” (vv. 1, 13. Both David and Jonathan call their own actions and character to account in this situation. David looks to his own actions as the reason for Saul’s anger instead of simply blaming Saul, and Jonathan makes his actions toward David accountable to the Lord.)
- How do David and Jonathan model the third part (focus on others) of a healthy “three-lationship?” (vv. 2-4, 9-16. Jonathan strongly models this aspect throughout the whole passage. He clearly cares about David, and listens to David’s claims about Saul even though he doesn’t initially agree with them. He is willing to do whatever David asks him to do. And he submits to the fact that David will be King over Israel as the Lord’s anointed one, even though it means that he will not become King, even though it is his cultural birthright as Saul’s oldest son. With this truth in mind, we should note that David should be Jonathan’s greatest enemy.)
- How do David and Jonathan model the first part of relational exercise, perseverance? (David and Jonathan’s friendship endured through the hardest of circumstances, namely, Jonathan’s father trying to kill David! Regardless of this hardship, David and Jonathan did not give up so easily.)
- Andy said in his sermon that, “nothing undermines the potential for healthy relationships more than falsehood.” How do David and Jonathan model the second part of relational exercise, truth? (vv. 1-3, 9-13. In the most difficult of circumstances with the highest of stakes, David and Jonathan exhibited such relational health that their commitment to truth and honesty broke even cultural familial bonds. And just to reiterate, David and Jonathan had such a history of trust and honesty before the Lord that David could trust Jonathan with his very life.)
- How do David and Jonathan model the third part of relational exercise, physical/spiritual presence? (vv. 12-16, 41-42. David and Jonathan are spiritually present with each other. This is evidenced by their willingness to bring the Lord into their conversations with each other and make Him their focal point in times of great distress. Their dedication to physical presence with each other is evidenced in David’s risk in verses 41-42. Remember, the plan was that if Jonathan came back with bad news, he would signal to David that he should flee immediately. But upon hearing the news, David takes great risk to come out of hiding and be physically present with Jonathan one last time. Their grief over their loss over physical presence is shown in their weeping. The truth that they must separate from one another was clearly a great and painful burden, especially for David.
- Apply these observations to your own life. How do you handle stressful situations in your own relationships? Do you go to the LORD as David and Jonathan did? Do you focus on your own internal character and actions? Are you quick to see what you can do for others, as Jonathan was? What things stand in the way of making these things a reality in your relationships?
- David and Jonathan persevered in the most difficult of times. They were honest and up front with one another, even when lives and kingdoms were at stake. Being together meant a great deal to them, even when it meant great risk and sacrifice. What things get in the way of us being as dedicated to these things as David and Jonathan were? What things would you have to sacrifice in order to prioritize being physically and spiritually present for those that you love?
Below you’ll see some options for ministry time with your group. We always encourage you to reserve time in your group to pray for one another and wait on the Holy Spirit.
- Sometimes we so value a certain relationship or set of relationships that we refuse to make it a “three-lationship” for fear of letting the Lord do something with that relationship that we wouldn’t want. If this is you, take that relationship to the Lord as Abraham took Isaac to the altar. Invite God into that relationship in prayer and begin to allow him to be Lord over it.
- Perhaps as you looked at this text, you were convicted of not being dedicated to the exercise that it takes to be relationally fit. You gave up too easily on a relationship, you damaged it by breaking someone’s trust, you didn’t make your spiritual and physical presence a priority. Approach the Lord with a repentant heart and ask Him to teach you how to take the next steps toward relational fitness. Ask the Lord to search your heart to see if there are any sin patterns in your relationships that can be broken in the name of Jesus.
- Spend time praying for perseverance in relationships for one another, especially for those who feel rejected as they pursue relationship with someone. Pray that the Lord would increase their capacity to persevere and to remember that our self-esteem and worth is found in Jesus Christ and not in the acceptance of other people.
- Perhaps you are realizing that you have the potential to be a Ty Cobb or a Tiger Woods at the end of your life, finding success in all areas except the area that matters most: Relationships. Receive prayer from someone specifically that the Lord would help you have correct priorities in your heart and that he would guard you from the temptations of the world. Pray for blessing over your current relationships and a life-long hunger for authentic, Christ-centered community.