Summary: From Paul’s message to the Corinthians, we find seven statements that can heal hurting relationships
The Seven Statements of Relational Healing
Intr.: There are no relationships that are free of conflict; when we are in a relationship that is in crisis, something must be done to correct it; it will not correct itself:
A. In our text today Paul finds himself in a relational crisis with people he loved dearly; He was expected to make the sacrifices and bear the burdens while others volunteered only to enjoy the fruits of the relationship.
B. Paul knew this situation was bad for everyone involved—it placed more on him than he was able to bear and fostered immaturity and selfishness on the other side of the relationship.
C. When we come to 2 Corinthians 7, we find the relationship has become adversarial:
1. Paul’s love for them is not in question:
For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you (2 Corinthians 2:4).
2. Love, even in its purest form, can become adversarial.
D. Paul and the Corinthians came to a stand-off.
E. In the seventh chapter of 2 Corinthians Paul makes seven statements which were key in restoring the relationship; we need to bring these seven statements to our relationships when they need healing.
F. These seven statements of restoration are:
1. I am not perfect.
2. I will not exploit you.
3. I love you.
4. I am not ashamed of you.
5. I value you.
6. I will hold you accountable for your actions.
7. I expect you to express your love for me.
Prop.: God’s Word can teach us how to survive when love becomes adversarial.
WE MUST BE WILLING TO SAY:
I. I AM NOT PERFECT (v.1):
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God:
A. Paul frames this verse in a way that says something very important to us.
B. Notice he says, "let us purify ourselves" and not "you ought to purify yourselves."
C. By using the terms "us" and "ourselves" he is placing himself among the imperfect.
D. When any earthly relationship contains a member that cannot see his/her imperfection, it is in trouble.
ILL.: Pride kills openness! ... Pride is dogmatic, unteachable, closed-minded (Swindoll, Charles. Dropping Your Guard, p.197).
E. If we refuse to acknowledge our own frailty, we will undermine our every relationship by refusing to see our need to change.
F. Relationships must grow and change to remain healthy-- perfection sees no need to change.
G. We cannot find harmony in relationships by insisting that all the changes be made on the other side.
H. We must recognize our own need to grow, improve and even repent.
II. I WILL NOT EXPLOIT YOU (v.2):
Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one:
A. No matter how sincerely you approach someone, there is always a good chance they will "close their spirit" to you (in the words of Gary Smalley).
B. Most of us have a defense mechanism which essentially works like this: "I do not want to be exploited, therefore, I will limit your access to me."
C. In this verse we see Paul encouraging the Corinthians to open their hearts to him; he does this by assuring them that he will not take advantage of them.
D. Paul is not concerned that he win the argument--he wants to save the relationship.
E. When we "make room" for someone in our heart, we become vulnerable to them--thus we will make room only for those whom we believe will not take advantage of our vulnerabilities.
F. Subconsciously, people ask at least four questions before they give us access to their hearts:
1. If I share my fears with you, will you use them to manipulate me?
2. If I let you know my love for you is long-suffering will you test the limits of its endurance?
3. If I allow you to see my frailties, will you see me as weak?
4. If I admit I was wrong, will you ever believe I am right?
G. We must create win/win relationships--there will never be real quality in a win/lose relationship.
III. I LOVE YOU (v.3):
I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you:
A. I love you so much that I am willing to face whatever life may bring and, indeed, even death, standing at your side.
B. When the love of God is present in a relationship, it rises to this level.