Summary: This sermon teaches us to resolve conflict in Christian love. When Jesus is "Lord" of our lives, He is Lord of the positive aspects of life - as well as the negative.

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Matthew 18:15-20

Inviting Jesus into your conflicts

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Years ago, a large statue of Jesus was erected high in the Andes Mountains on the border between Argentina and Chile. Called "Christ of the Andes," the statue symbolized a promise between the two countries that as long as the statue stands, there will be peace between them. Not long after it was built, the Chileans got angry and wanted to forget that promise – you see - the statue had its back turned to Chile. Just when tempers were at their highest, a newspaperman saved the day. In an editorial that not only satisfied the people but made them laugh, he simply said, "The people of Argentina need more watching over than the Chileans.”

A cute store illustrating a shameful reality – how quickly we can get bent out of shape with one another. Often over something silly, we can forget our relationships and treat people as enemies. We wear our feelings on our sleeves… words that linger in our minds… actions we suspect for the worst… and the next thing you know, we are all wadded up with each other. And what’s WORSE, the Lord’s people choose to behave no differently than the world when these disagreements arise. We want God’s blessings… we WANT the Lord to hear our prayers… but we DON’T want Him telling us how to manage our conflicts. Any restraint the Holy Spirit offers us we set aside in favor of getting in the last shot or letting everyone else know how we’ve been wronged. But here’s the deal, if we fail to obey the Lord’s directions regarding how we handle conflict, what RIGHT do we have to expect His blessings?? Why would we assume things would turn out well for us?

So… what would Jesus have us do?? When our feelings are hurt, when there is tension in the air, He would have us do 3 things that may not ALWAYS lead to peace with people – but at least we will have peace in our hearts knowing we did what the Lord expected us to do. 3 things. What are they??

1. First, He would have us Be Proactive in settling conflict. Proactive. Jesus said in v. 15, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault” You can’t get any clearer than that.

Typically, when WE have been offended, we EXPECT the OFFENDER to come to US. In fact, to think otherwise seems almost ridiculous. So WHY would the Lord tell us that the obligation is on OUR part when we didn’t do anything wrong? I can think of three reasons:

First, because it is pride in us that demands an apology. It is the flesh that causes us to choose STRIFE over peace… to value the last word over unity. And because PRIDE is the exact OPPOSITE of what we OUGHT to be and do, the Lord would have us take the first step towards reconciliation.

Second, because the Lord demonstrates grace so freely towards US, when we are unwilling to forgive, we fail to see our OWN sin – the many times WE have failed - and how often we have been forgiven. Grace demands us to release people from the debt they owe us – Just like Jesus did for US.

And THIRD, we ought to be proactive in settling conflicts because JESUS TOLD US TOO. It is NOT a matter of emotion – or whether we FEEL like it – it is a matter of OBEDIENCE. Without which, we cannot please the Lord. Get in the habit of handling things QUICKLY before they take on a life of their own

As a Child of God, the responsibility is on YOU not THEM. BE proactive.

2. Second, Be Private in settling conflict. Private. Jesus said in v. 15, “go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” I wonder how many brothers and sisters we have LOST because we failed to keep our conflicts private?? What would be the rationale behind keeping it between the two people involved?

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