Summary: Misunderstandings are common can start a destructive cycle of disagreements, arguments and quarrels that may last for a lifetime. Crushing conflicts can damage all kinds of relationships because simple misunderstandings were never nipped in the bud from t

Parents and their children of today consistently struggle to understand each other.

Misunderstandings are common can start a destructive cycle of disagreements, arguments and quarrels that may last for a lifetime. Crushing conflicts can damage all kinds of relationships because simple misunderstandings were never nipped in the bud from their beginnings. Christ-like understanding will open the door to improved communications that will engender harmony for all relationships.

Illustration: Josh McDowell says that the present generation of young people are plagued by more misunderstanding that any group that America has ever known. Unless, Christ like example are given and followed in overcoming misunderstandings the involvement with victorious Christianity will continue to deteriorate to a point of a self-destructive society.

Let us examine a few guiding Biblical principles for overcoming Misunderstandings.

1. Jesus dealt with His misunderstanding disciples with love, patience and wisdom. One day Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it and said, "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt." At first the disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him." (John 12:15,16)

There will be times we are required to show great patience, wisdom and love to people who do not understand our message, ministry or methods. Jesus learned how to love even those who persecuted Him because He knew the principle, "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good." (Rom. 12:21)

2. Paul had to temporarily separate from Barnabas because of a misunderstanding. Dr. Luke gives us in insight into a bitter misunderstanding between Paul and Barnabas when he writes, "Barnabas wanted to take John with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company." (Acts 15:38,39)

There are times when a healthy separation may be the best way to manage misunderstanding.

3. The Lord may allow misunderstanding to occur for our greater good. His jealous brothers sold Joseph into slavery. However, the Lord allowed Joseph to go through this trauma for his own good and the eventual deliverance of the Jews from starvation. Joseph reassures his brother by saying, "Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it (allowed it) for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Gen. 50: 19,20)

God has ways of using any hardship for our greater good. Will you draw upon the goodness of God during the times of adversity. HIs well of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control never runs dry.

Illustration: When I was teaching in a seminary in Nigeria for nearly twenty years, I often used a Hausa proverb with my students to motivate higher levels of drawing upon the depths of each lesson. The Proverb says, "Even if there is water in the well, but the man’s bucket has a hole in it (because of anger, bitterness or fear), he will not be able to draw upon the riches of the reservoir. It is like that when we are unable or unwilling to draw upon the Lord’s understanding to overcome the misunderstandings that may occur in human relationships.

4. Job learned a great deal about God, His purposes and His own immaturity through a series of misunderstandings. Many of Job’s friends and family members misunderstood what Job was going through and gave him poor advice. Yet, at the end of Job’s life he said, "Lord, I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. . . Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know." (Job 42: 1,2)

Many of us prematurely despair not realizing all that the Lord is allowing us to go through for the accomplishing of His long term plan, purposes, and processes.

5. Often misunderstanding is rooted in pride, selfish desires and ignorance. When relationships are strained there is usually a root cause in people’ s own selfish desires, their pride or their inability to factor in all of facts in a situation. During the big conflict in the Jerusalem council James finally expressed enough wisdom to right the wrongs of the early church. He said, "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest of times..." (Acts 15:19-21)

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