Summary: We are given the gift of relationships. What steps need to be taken to restore fractured, broken relationships, restoring them to where God intends them to be?
- Sibling rivalries as children! Somewhat funny looking back
- Healthy rivalries – hockey! (Toronto and Montreal)
- Tragic when sibling rivalries end up with broken homes and families. They can live within miles of each other but behave as if there is a continent between them.
- Deeper lesson of reconciliation in rivalries is today’s Bible reading.
1st – Our point of reference influences our choices
- Jesus opens this section with a comparative analysis. Verse 21 begins with “you have heard” while verse 22 starts with “But I say to you”.
- Jesus was like grit in the well-oiled legal and religious systems which oppressed people with judgment and criticism. Jesus punched the wind out of society’s flawed processes and said “there’s a better way.” They couldn’t handle that.
- Video images – mirage. It’s all about what you see. Many people “got it” (what Jesus was saying) but many others couldn’t figure him out at all.
- Our point of reference affects our perceptions and choices.
- Options! – Settle things the way the world settles it or seek God’s heart to respond His way!
2nd – Reconciling rivalries is key to healthy relationships
- (v 23-24)
This is a very difficult posture to assume because as our text suggests the person resolving the problem is not always the one who created the problem. While it is often true that we may search someone out to ask their forgiveness for some wrong we have committed against them, this text boldly offers that we are to search out and offer forgiveness to those who have committed some wrong against us.
- Exactly what Jesus did in coming to earth, to fix a rivalry between God and us. Our pride and disobedience separated us from God and God chose to forgive us.
- Invitation to not hold a grudge
Corrie Ten Boon – Holocaust survivor during the Hitler regime. Her family did not. They were Dutch Christians arresting by the Nazis for hiding Jews in their home. She watched the horrors of the genocide from Ravensbrueck, and barely survived. Following the war, she became famous for her book "The Hiding Place," which shared the story of her family. She embarked on speaking engagements sharing her faith with thousands of people. One night she spoke about the reality of Christ forgiving us. Afterwards a man came forward to speak to her. She recognised him as a guard from Ravensbrueck. She instinctively felt all of the hatred and pain from the horror those years of persecution.
He said he had been moved by her talk on forgiveness and, crying, he asked if he might receive the forgiveness of Christ of which she had spoken. In herself she could not offer that forgiveness. The Lord had put his finger on something which was preventing her from becoming more ’Christ Like.’ She remembered the command of Christ to love your enemy and to forgive seventy times seven the person who has wronged you. As Corrie Ten Boon prayed that Jesus would give her the strength to forgive the man, she felt a sensation begin in her heart and flow through her hand as it touched his. Then she heard herself saying, "In the name of Jesus Christ, I forgive you."
The man fell at her feet and wept a prayer of thanks. Jesus Christ was continuing to transform Corrie Ten Boon to be Christ Like through adversity and through shining his light on those dark areas of her life which were not pleasing to him.
Verses 23-24 again…
The popular Scottish theologian, William Barclay, said of text, “we cannot be right with God until we are right with men.”
- Responsibility to make things right.
3rd – “Brother” represents humanity in general
- Verse 25…
- Verse 25 – uses a common image (court) to provide a picture of working toward restoring any broken or hurtful relationship
-Reflects the tremendous value God places on relationships.
- Apostle Peter (elaborate on his story)…
- Peter was the first one Jesus searched out after his resurrection. RELATIONSHIP!
- Story of two nations that had a history of war, unspeakable bloodshed and hostilities. A mediator discovered that neither side could recall how it started finally so their relationship escalated to where the hostility was destroying them both. The mediator noted, “The only thing and the most important thing, that could have stopped the atrocities and bring healing to both sides was for someone to take the courage and initiative to say, “I’m sorry.”
The gift of relationships is trampled when our motivation is selfish (only focused on what I get out of it); or when we allow our focus to push a wedge into our relationships. Often the underlying problem is bitterness. Someone said, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” We fail to see that the greatest damage being done is to ourselves; that the greatest harm being inflicted is to ourselves; that we are the one dying as a patient to our emotional bondage. If allowed to continue, this unhealthy daily experience gets in the way of our relationship with God.
Best gift of all – restored relationships
Un-wrap the Gift!