Summary: It is difficult to move forward until we are set free from the past.
July 8, 2007
Text: Matthew 5:21-26
Title: Restored Relationships
I’m still praying for revival. As I pray I continually ask the Lord, “What hinders revival? What keeps it from happening here?” One thing that I keep hearing is that the one thing that will keep us from moving forward to the future is our past. We remember things in the past and have a difficult time really letting go. I know that God has wonderful blessings that He is ready to pour out on this church body. But I also know that He will not pour blessings out on a vessel that is not properly prepared to receive them. So we have to stop and ask ourselves the question, “What relationships do we need to restore? What needs to take place in my personal life and in our attitude as a church to open the floodgates of pure revival that God wants to send here?
I want to talk to you today about forgiveness. At some point in our lives each of us has required forgiveness – from God, from others or from self. Lack of forgiveness destroys relationships.
A childhood accident caused poet Elizabeth Barrett to lead a life of semi-invalidism before she married Robert Browning in 1846. There’s more to the story. In her youth, Elizabeth had been watched over by her tyrannical father. When she and Robert were married, their wedding was held in secret because of her father’s disapproval. After the wedding the Brownings sailed for Italy, where they lived for the rest of their lives. But even though her parents had disowned her, Elizabeth never gave up on the relationship. Almost weekly she wrote them letters. Not once did they reply. After 10 years, she received a large box in the mail. Inside, Elizabeth found all of her letters; not one had been opened! Today those letters are among the most beautiful in classical English literature. Had her parents only read a few of them, their relationship with Elizabeth might have been restored.
Daily Walk, May 30, 1992.
I want to make three quick points today.
1. In order to deal with broken relationships we have to understand them.
2. In order to deal with broken relationships we have to remember them.
3. In order to deal with broken relationships we must be willing to mend them.
Listen to what the Word of God says today.
I. UNDERSTANDING BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS (21-22) Notice how Matthew begins this section. YOU HAVE HEARD THAT IT WAS SAID… The people of Jesus’ time didn’t read the scriptures. First, they were too busy trying to make a living – they simply didn’t have time. Secondly, they couldn’t afford a Bible. Scrolls were quite expensive and only the wealthy could afford them. Thirdly, even if they wanted to, most were uneducated and couldn’t read. That is why they relied on the scribes and Pharisees to tell them what the scriptures said. You know how it is don’t you? If you hear something long enough it becomes truth, even if it isn’t true. The teaching of the scribes and Pharisees in this case was true - ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ The problem is, the teachers of the Law focused only on the law and the punishment while Jesus focuses on the attitudes of the heart. 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Broken relationships don’t come from the head where knowledge lives but from the heart where the spirit of a man lives. It ids what is in your heart that is important. Jesus said, Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Proverbs says that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he… So sometimes, without even realizing it, we have things that are passed down to us that hinder our relationships. As a teenager one of my best friends was African American. There was no way that I could ever invite him to my house though, because my mom and my step dad were racists. I don’t believe they ever consciously thought about what they were doing and made the decision to be racists, but it was what was handed down to them – it is what they thought in their hearts – and so they were. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. To say to someone “Raca” (which means empty) is an attack on someone’s intelligence and is an offense to and individual according to the Law. To call them a fool is an attack on their character. Jesus is differentiating between the Law and the Spirit. The Law was given in order for men to see their spiritual condition and turn to the Lord. It has never been able to save anyone. For us to understand broken relationships we must see that relationship from a spiritual perspective and not from the Law. The fact that Jesus sees these broken relationships as a spiritual problem is shown by the fact that He said, they will be in danger of the fire of hell.