Memphis Belle

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Ministry Of Reconciliation Part 1
Ministry Of Reconciliation Part 2
Ministry Of Reconciliation Part 3
Ministry Of Reconciliation Part 4
Ministry Of Reconciliation Part 5
Ministry Of Reconciliation Part 6

 

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Ministry of Reconciliation

 

Part III

 

In Review

 

“Over a couple year period, it’s interesting, the United Church of God had media experts come in and look over everything we did, and say ‘OK, what are these people all about?’  And they came up with a mission statement which was basically what we already had, and a vision statement which was what we already had.  And to media they came up with an “essence statement.”  An essence statement is something you don’t say, but it’s what you’re all about.  And they said, ‘Oh, you people are about relationships, loving God with all your heart and mind and all your soul, and loving your neighbour as yourself.’  And I thought, ‘Wow! I could have said that, and not paid them the money.’  We knew that.  In fact, we didn’t learn anything.  It was amazing, we really didn’t learn anything, because we already knew all that stuff.  So we paid people to come in and tell us what we already knew.  But God is reconciling us to himself because he wants us to be his children.  He wants to relate to us as his children.  And in those two sermons I went through and I asked you to write down these five points, because we will go through them over and over again.  I thought we would do this in three sermons, this is going to take more, to go through the complexity of this whole concept.  But I said we have conflict in our lives, or dysfunctional conflict, conflict is normal, not all conflict is bad.  Now when people have a problem, and they have a couple different viewpoints to solve the problem, and they work together to come up with a solution, that’s not bad.  Not all conflict is bad.  When conflict helps people work together to create a positive solution, it’s actually good.  But that’s not what we usually experience, between whether it’s in our families or inside the Church, and what I’m talking about specifically here is conflict between Christians.  We can try to apply these principles to the world, but they don’t play by the same rules.  So we have to understand that.  But between ourselves, when we look at dysfunctional conflict, there’s reasons for that.  And in the very first sermon I said “Write these down.”  I said, 1. Pride, 2. The need to be emotionally healed when we’re hurt, 3. We have expectations that others will satisfy our needs and desires, that’s the third one, we have all these expectations of people.  And when other people don’t meet our expectations there’s conflict.  4. Fourth is the need to control, because of our problem with, we need emotional stability.  We also have a self-image, I talked about how we are, we make ourselves our own gods, which is part of the problem, we make ourselves our own gods.  And so we have this need to control.  And then I said the number one reason for conflict in our lives is that we all have a conflict with God.  We spent a great deal of time in that first sermon going through what it means, that by nature we are the children of wrath, by nature.  What it means when the carnal mind, the natural mind is the enemy of God.  We went through what the word “abomination” means, and how we are the enemies of God.  In our natural state we are enemies of God.  And then we went through and showed how there is a great chasm between God and humanity, and how he closed that chasm by having Christ come across the great chasm, across the great canyon, and became a human being.  And that’s what we celebrate at the Passover, was his life and his death.  And we’re celebrating now his resurrection, because it’s not just getting the unleavened bread out, it’s taking the unleavened bread in.  It’s taking Christ in all the time.  And so how we understand, while we were yet enemies, before we repented, forgiveness was offered to us.  In fact, it’s by his goodness that leads us to repentance.  We went through in where Paul taught that.  And we talked about this ministry of reconciliation.  Let’s go to 2nd Corinthians 5, because this is where we started from.  And this is where this series of sermons is leading.  And so, in that first sermon, we really understood how desperate we are.  How we truly are, without God we’re nothing.  We are separated [from God], we are enemies, we can’t cross the gap, we can’t do anything.  And no matter how good we try to be, our nature has already been corrupted, and this is more than just about doing sin, it’s about the very core of who we are.  It’s been so corrupted, we can’t get back across.  We talked about what it is to be made in the image of God, and how all of us were made to be in the image of God, and now we’re such corrupted images, we don’t look anything like what we’re supposed to look like.  And it is the love of God, while we were enemies he crossed that barrier.  And that’s what we just celebrated.  2nd Corinthians 5:18, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;”  This concept of reconciliation doesn’t mean we just learn to get along.  This is more than God just saying, ‘I’d like to have you get along with me, or maybe we can open some lines of communication, maybe we can do lunch someday.’  Reconciliation means to restore, come into a relationship.  In this case, Father to child, Brother to brother and sister.  That’s how he describes it.  So we’re to come into a Father-and-child relationship with God, a Brother-to-sibling relationship with Jesus Christ.  That’s an elder brother, with all the respect that is due and the worship that he’s due.  So “all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now we are the ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us:  we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (verses 18-21)  And this is the premise, this is where we have to start this discussion.  That’s what we did in our first sermon, and realized what God is doing to bring us into a relationship with him.  The second sermon was about how then he had to do something else.  He had to pour out his Spirit upon us.  In other words, he had to bring us back across the gulf, he sent Christ here, and how he was a human being with a divine nature, while we still all have a corrupt human nature.  So he had to put the divine nature in us, so we received God’s Spirit.  And now we are at war, we are at war within ourselves, with the corrupt human nature and a divine nature.  And in that, we can learn peace.  We talked about peace.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”  But peace must begin internally.  And so we showed then, in the second sermon, how we understand Christ’s sacrifice, and we receive God’s Spirit, how that deals with our conflict with God, how that deals with all the things we had talked about in terms of the reasons for conflict.  How we must repent, repentance is required for relationship.  But God does the initiation.  And we talked about how unique it is that as human beings, when we are offended, our approach is, ‘You’re the one who is wrong, you must heal me.’  And how God’s response [to being offended] is ‘You’re the one who was wrong, I must heal you.’  Totally different approach.  God approaches us as the offenders, as the abominations, with the intent of healing the offender.  We should be very, very, very glad that God is not like us, that he needs our healing.  Because if God needed our healing, he would wipe us off the face of the earth.  He’d have destroyed humanity a long time ago.  And we showed how receiving God’s Spirit, understanding God’s ways, helps us to be able to have that conflict between us and God resolved, it helps us to be able to learn how to not need to control our own lives so much, but to give it to him in faith.  How also, we found God’s answer to that need to satisfy expectations of others, and why we fail so much in that, and how God can help us with that.  We showed, or we saw how because of the reconciliation process, and receiving God’s Spirit, we can be emotionally healed from our conflict we’ve had, and our enmity towards God.  And we showed how God deals with our pride, by helping us understand our absolute poverty without him, our absolute spiritual poverty without him.  Unfortunately, I have found in life that there are many people who keep the right doctrines of God, that do not have a poverty before God.  And it is pride much of the time that drives us and motivates us, and causes us to have conflicts with others. 

 

Next Step:  How Do I Apply What God Is Doing In Reconciling Me To Him, In Dealing With Others?

 

So, we saw in the first two sermons how God is reconciling us to him, and how that affects us.  But once we learn that, then we have to take the next step.  And that is, ‘OK, how do I now apply what God is doing in reconciling me to him, in dealing with others?’  And now we have the concept of family relationships.  If the Father and the Elder Brother reconcile us to them, when we have problems between each other, when we have offenses between each other, how does that get reconciled?  Now what I want to talk about today is the message to the person whose been offended.  Now if you’ve been offended, the first thing you say is ‘Well, well, wait a minute, the first message should always be to the offender, the first message should always be to the offender.’  Well, actually, as the offended person we have a responsibility to go to the offender in Scripture.  We’ll get to that.  When it’s our brother and sister [in Christ], and remember God reached out to us as the offenders before we repented.  He reached out to us willingly, offering forgiveness, before we even admitted we were wrong.  In fact, you and I never admitted we were wrong until he did what he did.  So, we then, as the person who has been offended in a situation, have a certain responsibility to follow that example.  Remember, repentance is the human response to having committed a sin, whether against God, or against somebody else.  Forgiveness is the Christ-like behavior of the person who has been offended.  Repenting, repenting is the human, the required human response to having sinned against God or somebody else.  Forgiveness is the Christ-like behavior of the person who has been offended.   

 

Step One:  Getting The Strength To Do It God’s Way

 

So now that we understand how God has reconciled us, we must understand how to reconcile to each other.  So, let’s go through, I had you write down those five things, because those were the five points in the first sermon, they were the five points in the second sermon, they’re going to be the same five points in this sermon.  You’ve been offended by somebody else, somebody has sinned against you.  You feel betrayed, you’re obsessed, you feel frustrated, you feel bitter, you feel angry, you feel hurt.  What are you supposed to do?  What are we supposed to do?  Let’s go through the five steps, starting in the order we went through them in the last sermon, which we started with your conflict with God.  And we say, ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute, this person sinned against me, why do I start with my conflict with God?  My conflict’s with that person because they sinned against me.’  And that’s true.  We’re not denying that, we’re basing this from, we’re starting this with “You’re the person whose been offended.”  You’re the person in which someone has committed a sin against.  You say, ‘Now the first thing I should do is go talk to that person.’  No, the first thing you should do is go have God make sure and deal with the conflict you have with God.  That’s the first thing you do.  That doesn’t make sense to us, but realize, if you were going to forgive that person, and you’re going to offer forgiveness, if we’re going to follow God’s example of ‘I forgive you before you repent,’ that’s his example, if I’m going to follow God’s example, I can’t do that myself.  That is a Christ-like behavior, that is not human behavior.  So if I’m going to do this Christ-like behavior, guess where I must go to get the strength to do it?  So before you ever go deal with the offender, you must go deal with you and God, and make sure there’s a healing between you and God.  Now this gives us, there’s a point where we have to say something about forgiveness.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean you ignore the offense.  Now, we’ll see that there are occasions when it does.  In a general sense, it doesn’t mean you ignore the offense.  It doesn’t mean you pretend that the sin didn’t take place.  It doesn’t mean somehow we erase God’s standards of right and wrong.  Forgiveness means you give up the need to make that person meet your expectations, or to suffer if they don’t.  It means deciding not to become obsessed with the offense.  I’ve met people who are obsessed with offenses that took place twenty-five years ago.  They’re just obsessed with it.  They think about it all the time.  It eats away at them all the time.  It means that you do not gossip about the offense to other people.  And it means that you give up the animosity you have towards the offender.  That’s what forgiveness means.  Now there’s still a standard they’re held to.  This has nothing to do with the standard.  It has to do with ‘you and me.’  That’s what forgiveness is.  You know, when God says ‘I forgive you,’ he doesn’t say ‘’I forgive you, I just did away with the standard.’  What God says is ‘I no longer, I don’t have any animosity towards you, I have no anger towards you, I don’t care anymore about what you did, it means nothing to me.  It is erased from my memory.’  You know, God can choose to remember our sins, but he chooses not to remember them.  So forgiveness isn’t taking away the standard, forgiveness is what you do in your own mind and in your own heart.  The problem is, that when we’re sick, think about it, when we’re sick, you know, you’re sitting in a room and you’re sick, and you’re in that room long enough, there’s only one thing that’s on your mind, how sick you are.  I mean, you can’t think of anything else.  ‘I’m going to throw-up again,’ right?  At that moment you’re not thinking about how much you should love your wife or your kids, and serve the people in the church, and all you’re thinking about is ‘I feel miserable, I hurt.’  That’s what we do when we obsess about someone who has offended us.  We think about it all the time, until we find ourselves emotionally in a dark room, locked in by ourselves, thinking about ‘how sick I am.’   That’s an obsession.  That’s what happens when we don’t forgive.  We become obsessed, and we lock ourselves into a spiritual dark room, and we just sit there, and all we do is think about, and feel about the person who has offended me.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean you excuse the person’s actions, they have a responsibility.  But, now I want you to think about this, it means, now if we’re going to be Christ-like, it means that you are willing to go across the gap created by that person.  Right?  The person created a gap between you and them, just like you and I created a gap between us and God, and you and I can’t get across the gap, so he had to come across to his enemies.  Right?  He had to come across to his enemies.  You and I have to reach the point where we are willing to go across the gap to offer forgiveness to the enemy.  That’s what we have to be willing to do, if we’re going to be Christ-like.  You say, ‘How did you make that up?’  Well we’ve already gone through what God did for us.  How many times Paul in Ephesians says ‘Follow God as little children, imitate God as little children, become Christ-like.’  ‘Well OK, I’m not stealing.’  But, how about crossing the gap for the enemy?  That’s what he did.  Now in order to be willing to do that, you have to go get strength from God.  That’s why when someone’s offended you, you know, if your husband has offended you, before you go confront him, go get right with God, go get right with God first.  Let him show you what you’re supposed to do and how to do it.  That’s what makes Matthew 18 so important.  Now there is a point where we will go to Matthew 18 as conflict resolution.  Matthew 18 gives us a model of conflict resolution.  But I’m not going to go through the model today, because we’re not even talking about how you do this.  We have to start with, as the person who is offended, how, what I must do internally, to be a peacemaker, to have peace myself?  Because I’ve been damaged by somebody else.  Other people damage us.  And you know what, we damage others too.  Anyone, everyone in this room has been damaged, and everyone in this room has damaged somebody else.  And we never really will come to grips with this until we accept one, yes I have been damaged by others, and two, yes I have damaged others, and I must take responsibility for that.  In fact, in most cases of conflict, both parties have damaged the other.  That’s why the conflict is dysfunctional.  The reason there is dysfunctional conflict, the reason it becomes dysfunctional is both parties have damaged each other.  And so here we have in Matthew 18, verse 21, how many times have we read this, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  till seven times?”  What a spiritual giant.  I would say, ‘Once, maybe twice.’  Right?  Fool me once, no, no, fool me twice, never again.  He says ‘Seven times, perfect number, boy am I going to look righteous to the disciples, and Jesus is going to say ‘Bless you.’’ “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times:  but, Until seventy times seven.” (verse 22) He said, ‘What!?  Hey, that much forgiveness?’  And then he tells them the parable about the man who had owed a king a huge amount of money, and went to the king and said, ‘I can’t pay it,’ and the king said ‘I forgive you.’  He says ‘Please forgive me.’ The king says, ‘I forgive you.  I will wipe out the account.  I will erase it.  Just go be a good citizen.’  And he leaves the king, and there comes to him a person who owes him a very small amount of money.  And the person who owes him a very small amount of money says ‘Look, I can pay you, just give me some time.’  And he says ‘No,’ and he throws him into debtors prison, and he has him tortured.  He has him pay his debt by throwing him into prison.  And he owes him just a small amount of money.  And so the servants go and tell the king.  And the king calls the man in that he had forgiven.  Verse 32, “Then his lord, after that he called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:  shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?”  He begged him, he could not pay the debt.  This is where you and I come before God, you and I can’t pay the debt.  We are the offenders, we are the abominations, and we can’t pay the debt.  And we forget that, and that’s why I said in each of these sermons, life changes when you live the Passover year-round.  When we live it once a year, we have problems.  Life changes when we live the Passover year-round, when you remember every day, ‘I have gone to God, and I couldn’t pay the debt, and I owed it, and he said, ‘I forgive you.’’  Verse 33, “Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?  And his lord was wroth and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.”  Verse 35, Jesus says, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”  ‘so shall my heavenly Father do TO EACH OF YOU, if each of you from his heart does not forgive his brother his trespasses.’  When we refuse to forgive, God will turn us over to the torturers.  We torture ourselves.  We live in a dark room where all we can think about is our sickness.  This is why we’re starting the message to the people who have been the offendees, people who have been offended.  The offenders,  when we come to them, there are strong messages about offending, about sinning against your brother.  And you think about six of the Ten Commandments are about---what?---sinning against your brother.  Stealing, lying, killing, sinning against our brother is terrible.  In fact, when we sin against our brother, we sin against God. 

 

One Of The Most Dangerous Things We Face In Church---Being Offended By Another Christian

 

But what’s amazing in life, here’s one of the great ironies in life, there have been as many people turning against God, not because they committed the sin, the initial sin, but because they became bitter over the person who sinned against them. In fact, one of the most dangerous things we face in the Church is when we are offended by another Christian.  When another Christian sins against us, it is one of the most dangerous things we face. [I know a wonderful young gal who is an atheist primarily because she was ‘abused’ as a child, and asked ‘where was God when I needed him?’  A very close friend of mine, an ex-Worldwide member, became an atheist because of the offenses and sins committed against him by members of ‘the church.’  One example in the world, one right within our past membership in the Church.]  Because we end up in a dark room, sick, thinking only about our own pain.  And it is impossible to love, God or a fellow man, in that state.  It is impossible to be what we’re supposed to be, remember we’re supposed to be the children of God.  We are corrupted images of God.  And God is recreating us into his image.  And God is not a sick, emotionally sick person in a dark room.  That’s not who he is.  When we obsess over the offense, we become driven by our hurt and our anger and our bitterness.  And that’s normal.  When you feel hurt, I feel hurt when people do something to me, and I know other people are hurt when I do something to them.  That hurt is normal. 

 

1st Step In How To Do It God’s Way

 

But we also have to remember, we must deal with that, and the first thing we do when we’re hurt is go recognize your poverty before God.  Go read the last part of Matthew 18, and realize your poverty before God.  And before you deal with somebody else, go say ‘God forgive me, for I am also a sinner.  Forgive me, for I am also a sinner.  And then give me the capability of reaching back across the gap to the person who has sinned against me, to offer forgiveness, give me that ability.’  Because he says if we don’t we will be turned over to the torturers.  That’s what it says.  We will be tortured in our own minds when we refuse to offer forgiveness.  Now, you can offer forgiveness, when we get into reconciliation, the techniques of it, you can offer forgiveness and somebody won’t repent. That’s a whole different story.  They refuse it.  But you know, even with people repenting, it usually takes time.  Very seldom does someone just repent immediately.  Think about you and God, how long did God have to work with you before you were baptized?  Sometimes it’s decades before you repented.  Colossians 3.  Remember what we just read there, is when we refuse to forgive somebody, when you offer forgiveness it means you’ve already forgiven them.  Once again it doesn’t mean you have a relationship with them, it means you’ve already forgiven them.  God already forgave us, or he couldn’t have offered it to us.  People go to the lake of fire because they refuse God’s forgiveness.  That’s why they go.  Colossians 3:12, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering” these are hard things, tender mercies, being willing to cut other people slack, being willing to offer forgiveness, being willing to be merciful when others are wrong.  You don’t give mercy to people when they’re right.  There’s no need to give mercy to somebody whose right.  Kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, “forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any:  even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (verse 13)  There’s no need to bear with one another unless the other person’s being obnoxious.  So this statement has no meaning unless something bad is happening.  “forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man has a quarrel against any:  even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”  And  this is why we really can’t talk about reconciliation between human beings until we talk about how God reconciles us, because the writers of the Bible keep taking us back to that as our model.  They keep taking us back to a point, and saying, ‘this is what you must remember, and that’s then what motivates you to do these other things.’  If you have tender mercies and kindness and humility and meekness and longsuffering, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, why?  Because we go back to ‘that’s what God did through Christ for us, so I must then model that behavior with others.’  Well you say, ‘That’s uncomfortable.’  It was uncomfortable for God to do what he did.  There’s nothing that says that Jesus Christ was comfortable when he did what he did.  There’s nothing that says God the Father was comfortable when he did what he did.  He did what he did because that’s who he is.  He did what he did because it’s his nature.  And you and I have a corrupt nature that’s supposed to become like his.  This is his nature to do this.  He didn’t say it was comfortable for him to do it.  We know it wasn’t comfortable for Jesus Christ to do it.  And now we have to break this concept down, and say ‘OK, now how do I live it with other people?  I want to accept God’s reconciliation, how God came to save me while I was yet a sinner and an enemy.  But now how am I to apply that to fellow Christians?’ because we are a family.  So family must apply these same principles that the Father and the Elder Brother has already applied to us.  And that means real peace comes from first seeking peace with God. So when someone has hurt you and damaged you, first go get peace with from God.  That’s where you go first, not to the person, you go to God first.  ‘God, this person has hurt me, this person,’ just like a little kid, ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,’ I hear that all the time, ‘you know what’ fill in the child’s name, ‘did to me!?’  We go to God, and we say ‘Father, it hurts, I’ve been damaged.’  And then we remember Jesus Christ says ‘Oh, I know what that’s like.’  And this person spitefully used me.’  ‘I know what that’s like.’  ‘And this person called me names.’  ‘I know what that’s like.’  ‘And this person yelled at me.’  ‘I know what that’s like.’  ‘By the way, did they nail you to a cross?’  ‘Oh no.’  ‘I know what that’s like.’  And all of a sudden it changes things, doesn’t it?  ‘Did they nail you to a stake.’  ‘No.’  ‘Did they beat you until they couldn’t even recognize you were a human being?’  ‘Well no.’  ‘I  know what that’s like.’  ‘Did they spit on you.’  ‘No.’  ‘I know what that’s like.’  You get a little different perspective when you go there.  And then he says, ‘I know how you feel, that feels terrible when people do that to you.’  So we’re going to have to learn how to do this, ‘Let me bring some peace to you.’  Peace comes from God first, we must remember that, that’s where we must go.  In Isaiah 59, go and read Isaiah 59, I won’t go there, but he talks about how Israel was such a terrible nation, just filled with sin, and hatred, and violence.  And he goes through all their sins, and says ‘You don’t know the way of peace, and anyone who goes this way will never know the way of peace.’  There is a way of peace.  In other words, there are actions of peace.  There are thoughts of peace.  And any time we are damaged by another human being, first go to God and receive help.  You know, “by his stripes we are healed” just doesn’t mean physically.  And yet the proof of that is how God will use a physical sickness to spiritually heal us.  How many times in your life, and I know there’s many of you here that have told me, your life changed because of some physical illness, and you couldn’t figure out why God didn’t deal with it right away, or dealt with it the way he did it, and then later you were changed because of it, in a positive way.  God used the physical illness to heal you spiritually.  So he will use physical illnesses to heal us spiritually.  And he heals us emotionally too.  There is a way of peace we must learn, there’s a way of peace we must learn.  There is a healing we must get.  So when you’re damaged by a person, you go to God, and you say, ‘By his stripes I must be healed.  Give me peace, because I’m hurt, I’m damaged.’  And we ask God for that kind of healing.  I call it the mercy-effect.  God does something to you, and then you turn around and do it to somebody else.  It’s the mercy-effect. 

 

2nd Reason For Conflict: Our Need To Control---Justice verses Vengeance

 

Now let’s go through then, now that’s the first thing on your list.  This is the reason for conflicts, because we all have a conflict with God.  We all have a conflict with God.  Now, let’s go through the others and see how then I must deal with, or you must deal with each other when we have damaged each other.  This is going to happen, and it’s going to happen over and over and over again.  And until we learn this, guess what we will do?  We will damage each other, and we will, if we don’t deal with it properly, we’ll just have damaged homes, damaged marriages, damaged children, damaged congregations, where everybody’s walking around with these open emotional wounds.  So we go to God when someone has hurt us, to receive peace from him.  That now gives us the power, the ability to now deal with the situation.  The second reason for conflict is our need to control the response of the other person.  This is very difficult.  Because this is the fear that we have.  I know this, because I’ve done this myself.  Because if I give up trying to force that person into the response I want, they’ll get away with it. If I give it up, if I can’t force them into what I think they should do, they’ll get away with it.  And so what happens is, your personal healing depends entirely upon the other person.  They either apologize to you and heal you, or they get punished and that heals you.  But the only healing comes from both things.  Now, understand the difference between justice and vengeance.  This is a big subject, and I’m just going to touch on it.  Justice is justice.  You and I are walking around suffering penalties from sins we’ve committed.  Now the ultimate justice is that God would require our eternal lives.  So we have to be careful where we go entirely with justice.  But you know, if someone out here commits a murder, according to God’s Law justice is that person forfeits their life.  Anything less than forfeiting their life is mercy, if it’s first degree murder.  Now, there are people in the Bible, like Paul, who committed murder, and were forgiven by God.  Right?  God forgave him.  He killed Christians.  Oh he may have not picked up the stone, but it says he consented, he gave permission, which is the same thing.  [Just like Adolf Hitler or Adolf Eichmann may have never actually killed a person, but they were guilty of multiple millions of murders.]  And God forgave him.  God did not require total justice here because he forgave him.  When you forgive somebody, that doesn’t mean you can erase the penalties they will suffer.  If someone sins against you, there are natural penalties they will suffer.  And your forgiveness of them doesn’t erase those natural penalties, that’s between that person and God.  So we’ve already looked at forgiveness, what forgiveness is.  But understand the difference between justice and vengeance.  Those are two different things.  I talked about that about a year ago in a sermon, when I talked about vengeance.  Vengeance is you are driven, it’s an emotional driving of who you are, to get that person to either respond in the way that you want them to meet your expectations, or to suffer.  They must do one or the other.  They must either meet your expectations for healing, or they must suffer.  And until that happens, you will be emotionally tortured.  [Comment:  That is why when some family looses a loved one to a murderer, that family cannot usually rest until they actually witness the execution of the murderer.  That is an emotional need for vengeance to be satisfied for those in this world who are not indwelt with God’s Holy Spirit.  This emotional need is well understood by the justice and prison departments, and it is allowed for by law.  Corey ten Boom, years later, while she was giving a Bible study, had a man walk up the aisle toward her, and extended his hand to her.  As he was walking up, she immediately recognized him as the Nazi prison guard who had been responsible for her sister’s death in the concentration came she was in with her.  She sat there for a short while, praying, obviously, and mechanically stretched out her hand in forgiveness to this man, even though she was not feeling forgiveness.  God immediately upon her taking this man’s hand, flooded her with a forgiving spirit of loving-kindness.  That is reconciliation in action.  She didn’t have a lot of time to seek God’s peace, this event happened very suddenly, and she literally had to step out in faith before God’s peace came upon her.  God didn’t let her down.]  Hmmm, I will turn you over to the torturers.  You will be emotionally tortured until one of those two things happens.  Now you’re hurting.  Of course you want an apology, or you want the person to suffer.  You want justice.  But understand, understand, forgiving means that you will not require that you get the justice you want.  You will turn the justice over to God, and God will mete out the justice.  God will give out the justice.  And aren’t you glad that many times God has said, ‘Oh I forgive you, and I’ll even take the penalty away this time.’  I’m glad God’s taken a lot of penalties away from me.  And we’re not even talking about the eternal death penalty that he’s passed over with us.  There’s lots of times in your life you haven’t suffered what you should have because of your sins.  There’s lots of times.  Because God even took the penalty away, in his mercy.  Other times he didn’t, because there’s lessons we have to learn.  We have to learn to take responsibility for our sins.  And that means there’s times we suffer terrible penalties.  There are sins we commit where we will suffer a physical penalty for, for the rest of our lives, until the resurrection, that’s the way it is.  When someone sins against you, there is a penalty they will pay in one form or another.  [This applies also to those in the world who sin against us.  I once worked in an electronics company, and the president of the company wanted everyone to come into work on a particular Saturday.  I did not show up, because it was the Sabbath.  He fired me.  I ended up in another electronics company about 100 miles away, had to relocate my family to get this new job.  This man’s company went chapter 11, and he was demoted to being a salesman.  How did I find out?  He showed up at the company where I now worked, hat in hand, trying to sell his company’s transformers, and I learned all this from our sale’s rep.  He actually came over and shook hands with me (rather sheepishly).  This is one of many examples where the Lord showed me not to worry about seeking justice or vengeance on my own, he had my back.] 

 

The Deadly Fruit of Vengeance:  Collateral Damage

 

But vengeance is that you require that for your own personal feelings, ‘I require they meet my expectations of apology, or they meet my expectations of punishment.  And they must do that, or I can never be healed.’  And what happens when we get like this, there’s a couple things that happen that are very dangerous.  One is, in your need, and my need to pay back hurt with hurt, there is collateral damage.  And I wish I had a dollar for every child, teenager, adult, elderly person that I have talked to over the years, who talked about how they were damaged because of the battle between their parents.  The children were the collateral damage, because of the battle between the parents.  [The Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s blood-feud is an extreme example of this.]  What happens when we are driven by vengeance and the need to get the other person to meet our expectations or to be hurt?  There are times when there’s collateral damage from that, we damage other people.  You know, Romans 12, Romans 12, this is why I said there are times to confront people, and there’s actually times not to.  There’s times when you leave it alone, and put it into God’s hands.  We think, ‘Now when would you do that?’  Because you wouldn’t always do that.  We shouldn’t always do that.  We are required to go to our brothers.  But there are times you don’t go to your brother.  You know the times when you don’t go to your brother?  When the collateral damage is so great that it will damage other people.  And then you go put it in God’s hands.  Romans 12:17-18, “Recompense no man evil for evil.  Provide things honest in the sight of all men.  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”  It is not possible to live peaceably with all men, it is impossible.  So what Paul says, ‘as much as depends on you, live in peace.  Realize it’s not always going to be possible to live at peace with people.’  There are people, especially in the world, where you can’t live at peace with them.  You endure.  Right?  You endure those people.  You have to.  “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath:  for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (verse 19)  You know there are times to turn something over to God, and say, ‘If I deal with this, I’ll make it worse, and there will be collateral damage, and therefore I will give this to you, and I’ll ask you to take care of this.’  And then you trust that he will do what’s best.  Now you know what?  What if he doesn’t punish that person right away?  The moment you turned it over to God, and said ‘You do what’s best,’ and if he doesn’t punish them right away, you have to accept that’s what’s best.  Right?  This is what it says.  Don’t take vengeance out, there’s times you give it to God and say ‘I can’t deal with this one, I’ll only make it worse.’  Look at what he says, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink:  for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (verses 20-12)  Sometimes, sometimes in dealing with an offender, you actually become, you repay evil with evil, and you’re overcome by the evil.  [For many of our troops, both during World War II, especially our Marines in the Pacific, or in Vietnam, this occurred, the responses to the evils of the enemy overcame our boys with evil, they were never the same.]  This is why you can’t deal with some people in the world, you can’t apply these principles all the time.  Right?  I mean, you’re working next door to a guy, right there in the same building, who sleeps with every girl that he can get, he’s a drug addict, he’s a drunk, and he offends you all the time.  And there’s not much you can do about it.  You turn that over to God.  You don’t get him to repent, you can’t get him to stop being offensive.  You turn it over to God and say ‘God, you have to take care of this.  Because if I try to deal with this I’ll loose my job.  There’s no way I can fix this.’  So there are times when you don’t deal with the situation head-on.  But this goes back to our need to control the response of the other person.  In fact, when we really understand this, then what Peter says in 1st Peter makes sense.  1st Peter, because we know where to go, especially to our brother.  You can’t go to people all the time in the world.  You try to apply this, and you should.  But there’s times you can’t.  There’s times even with your brother in the Church, you realize that trying to fix the offense will only make it worse, and you say ‘OK, I’ll take care of it later.’  There’s times when somebody offends you, and you say ‘I’ll take care of it later.’  Because, as husband and wife, there’s times you’re offended by your husband, there’s times you’re offended by your wife, and you’ve learned, instead of trying to deal with it in this heated moment, the best thing for me to do is step back, and wait, and deal with it later.  Right?  We learn because at that point, you will only make it worse.  And so how we pick a time, how we pick a time to deal with offense is very important.  1st Peter 2:19 says, “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?  but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” (verses 19-20)  Patience is one of the biggest problems that we have when we are offended.  Why?  Because it hurts, and we want to stop the hurt.  So how do we stop the hurt?  We get the person to either repent or be punished.  And when neither of those things happen, what do we do?  Well we remember this.  And you think ‘Well, how can I do that?’   Now we go back to the first principles of reconciliation. “For even hereunto were ye called:  because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:  who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:  by whose stripes ye were healed.” (verses 21-24)  See what he takes us back into.  I know you can’t do this by yourself, because I can’t do this by myself.  Go back to this, we remember this, and he says sometimes you give it to God, who judges righteously.  There are times when you give it to God.  There are times when there’s no solution to a problem with an offender.  There are times when there’s so much collateral damage that the more you try to fix it the more people you hurt.  And he says there are times then, you just turn it over to God.  That’s how we give up our need to control the response of the other person.  That’s why the first step is you have to go get healing from God when someone has hurt you.  The second step is you have to give up the need, the absolute need to control it, the vengeance that says ‘I have to have this response or this.’  I’ve seen situations go on for years, and finally someone goes to someone and says ‘Hey, I did this years ago, and I’m sorry.’  And they solved it, and all the hurt’s gone, and you think ‘Wow, they spent two years mad at each other, and all they had to do is that.’  All they had to do is that.  The third point, is that we need to seek God’s solution instead of our solution to fulfill our desires.  Remember, our desires are part of the problem that we have.  Our desires are not always wrong, but we’re driven by them. 

 

When We’re Offended We Must Analyze What Is Happening---How Did I Contribute To This?

 

When you are offended by someone, you need to analyze why you were offended.  Now this is real hard folks, one of the hardest things for a corrupted human nature.  At least for me, and maybe you don’t have this problem, so I do this for me.  One of the hardest things for me is intellectual honesty.  You do need to analyze intellectually, honestly what is happening.  Because I truly believe my subjectivity is objective.  I believe it.  So when you are offended, here’s a series of questions to ask yourself and answer before you do anything.  1. One, what is the Christ-like response to this situation?  ‘Oh, oh, wait a minute, Christ-like response?  I need to go deal with that so and so.’  What is the Christ-like response?  Because when we deal with someone whose sinned against us, we’re trying to reconcile.  So what are we trying to do?  In the Church, what are we trying to do when someone has sinned against us?  We are trying to reconcile.  If you’re just trying to punish someone, you’re missing the point.  Now, like I’ve said, all sin gets punishment.  You don’t have to worry about it.  We all get our punishment for sin.  So what is it you’re trying to do when someone has offended you?  The first step is, you’re trying to reconcile with them.  Now that means they have to deal with their sin.  So what is the Christ-like response?  2. The second question you have to ask yourself is, What lessons can God teach me through this situation?  Sometimes you’re going, you know everything in life we go through we can learn something from it.  And so, we need to ask, ‘What am I learning from this?’  Maybe in this person sinning against me I have an opportunity here to grow in what God wants me to learn.  3. A third question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Am I overreacting?  Am I overreacting?  Is this really a little thing, and I’m making it big [making a mountain out of a mole-hill principle]?  4. The next question, ‘Am I reacting out of frustration, because I expect the other person to fulfill my desires?  I’m offended because I expected him to buy me roses for our anniversary, and he showed up with some daisies he picked out of the front yard, and thought I’d be impressed with them?’  Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel bad [does sleeping on the couch ring a bell, guys?].  OK?  I’m not saying that that, you’re expectations weren’t met.  But, am I now offended and have dysfunctional conflict, because my desires weren’t met?  5. ‘Am I angered because my pride was injured?  Is that the real issue here?’  Am I angry because my pride was injured?  6.  ‘Is this an offense I should simply overlook?’   You know, the Bible does talk about overlooking offenses.  In fact, in Proverbs it talks about how it is a prudent man, a wise man, who overlooks offenses.  I mean, he doesn’t overlook all of them.  But you know, there are just a lot of offenses that aren’t worth it.  The person is tired, the person is stressed out.  I’ve seen people do things where they’re stressed they would never normally do.  And many times, what’s the best way to deal with that?  ‘Ah, he’s just stressed, just leave him alone.  They’ll be ok tomorrow.’  Right?  And we just leave it alone.  It doesn’t matter that the person just said, ‘Leave me alone, just don’t talk to me you stupid jerk!’  And you say, ‘That’s not normal, I don’t know what the problem is, but maybe tomorrow he’ll feel better and he can tell me what’s wrong.’    We overlook offenses, and there’s many times we’re supposed to overlook offenses.  We cut people slack. 7. And then the question we don’t want to ask ourselves is ‘How did I contribute to this conflict?’  ‘Wait a minute, that’s the person who did wrong!’  But you know, many times someone’s offense doesn’t come out of a vacuum.  There has been conflict that’s been going on for a long time, and the offense isn’t out of a vacuum.  So ask, ‘So how did I contribute to this?  Maybe I contributed to this somehow.’  And maybe you didn’t.  But you have to ask yourself that question.  You have to be intellectually honest enough, which means you had to first of all go to God and get some peace.  Secondly, you’ve had to give up, ‘No, I’m not going to be emotionally driven to have vengeance here.’  And then you have to go to this point that says, ‘OK, I just analyzed this so that I can begin to try to find God’s solution, instead of fulfilling my desires.’  I mean, this last point, is exactly what Jesus meant in the Sermon on the Mount.  He said ‘Don’t try to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye, until you get the beam out of yours.’  Now why did he say that?  He said, ‘Then go get the speck out,’ he didn’t say ignore the offense, he said, ‘figure out how you contributed.’  You know, your brother may be blinded because you smacked him in the head with the 2 x 4 sticking out of your eye!  So deal with your part of the offense first.  Your part of the offense may have been tiny.  It doesn’t matter how big it was.  You deal with that first.  ‘Wow, can’t I just go tell my brother he’s a sinner?’  If we do this the way God did with us, we have to do these things first. 

 

Be Real Cautious About Anger Turning Into Bitterness

 

And then the last point of course is, seek God’s healing for your damaged emotions.  Now that brings us right back to the first point.  But you know, these five points are all interconnected.  As we go on, you’ll see they’re connected more and more and more together, and the answers come from God.  Sometimes people won’t repent.  Sometimes relationships are broken, and can’t be fixed.  Sometimes relationships are broken and can’t be fixed.  The person who did the abuse, the person who damaged other people didn’t care.  We’ve all seen that kind of thing happen.  Haven’t we?  And the person just says ‘I don’t care.’  And we must realize that we must seek God’s help.  Because if we don’t, we end up in some real trouble.  We end up allowing ourselves being controlled by anger.  I gave a whole sermon on anger awhile back, so I won’t go through that.  But when we get controlled by anger, just do a study on the word “anger” and “wrath” in the Bible.  Not all anger is wrong.  We should be angry at times.  We actually should be.  But boy anger becomes very dysfunctional very quickly.  I know that, you know that, we’ve all been there, we’ve all been there.  But one of the things that really happens to us is that when the situation can’t be solved, we become bitter.  I want you to look at something in Hebrews chapter 12.  See bitterness is a state of mind that’s rooted in unresolved anger.  Hebrews chapter 12, you know when you think about God, there are human beings that will not repent.  There are human beings who are going to the lake of fire.  Is he bitter towards them?  Verse 14, Hebrews 12, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:”  Now this is one sentence with two subjects, peace and holiness.  They’re connected together here.  We must pursue peace and holiness.  We pursue those two things, because without these two things, you and I will not see Christ.  “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”   (verse 15)  Fall short of the grace of God, now we know how people do that.  Right?  They blaspheme God, they go out into a lifestyle that is an absolute rejection of God.  We know that people can loose God’s Spirit.  The Book of Hebrews talks about this more than any other book in the Bible, where you can lose God’s grace, you can give up God’s grace.  But I want you to notice what the rest of this sentence says.  ‘Looking carefully lest anyone falls short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this,’ now he’s writing to the Church, ‘by this many become defiled.’  Because of bitterness, he said, the writer of Hebrews said to the Church ‘many people in the Church have become defiled.’  This is a scary statement here.  This is a statement about salvation.  We can lose salvation through bitterness, by just becoming bitter people, people who always see nothing but bad, have no faith in God because there’s always going to be bad anyway.  They have no love towards God, we do it because we have to, they have no real relations with people because ‘They’ll abuse me anyways.’  Everybody just mistreats them anyways [in their own minds].  They never reach out, they never love anybody else.  ‘So we come to church, we try to keep the Ten Commandments, and we sort of just go through life with this bitterness.’  And they’re never really experiencing any of the joy of God’s Spirit.  And because of this he says, ‘many become defiled.’ 

 

What Is The Quickest Way To Bitterness?

 

What is the quickest way to bitterness?  Here’s the irony of it.  To have someone sin against you, to have someone abuse you, have someone do something bad against you, and then you can’t get it resolved, is the quickest way to bitterness.  I’ve seen it happen a hundred times in the Church.  I’ve dealt with so many situations between people, and watch somebody get bitter, husband and wife, friends who knew each other for years, family members.  I’ve seen family members hate each other because a funeral comes up, and they fight over who gets the trinkets, and they hate each other, and they’re bitter toward each other.  I’m always amazed at that.  I think I’ve told you before, because of that, I told my sisters, you get everything.  Anything you want me to have or you give to me is fine, you get everything.  I will  not risk damaging our relationship over things that my parents have.  Because I’ve seen it too many times.  Bitterness is a terrible thing.  Because remember what it does, it locks you in a dark room spiritually, where all you do is think about the hurt, and all you do is see other people hurting you, and all you do is spend your time looking out at how other people treat you.  A mature Christian concerns his or her life on how he or she treats others.  Bitterness turns that around, until your whole concern in life is how others treat you.  And the thing is, we get that way because we’re damaged.  We get that way because someone did something bad to us.  It doesn’t excuse what the other person did.  But it’s how we end up.  And because of that we do something else.  We begin to involve others in our discontent.  We must always involve others in and try to make the others bitter.  [He’s not saying this is something we should do, but something bitter people end up doing.]  I’ve seen people do that, I’ve sat in a congregation where a bunch of people are rallied around this person, and a bunch of people are rallied around that person, and all they do is come to Sabbath services and talk about ‘Well this person mistreated that person.’  And they’ve got two little groups, I’ve seen it happen before.  It shouldn’t be in the Church of God, we’re sharing bitterness. 

 

Pride:  It’s Not Always About Winning

 

The last point is about pride.  And that means we must seek humility.  It’s not always about winning.  One final Scripture, Genesis 26.  It’s not always about winning.  It’s not always about coming out on top.  It’s not always about getting it resolved exactly the way you and I want to get it resolved.  It’s accepting the imperfections of life.  It’s accepting that seldom does any situation end up exactly the way you would like it to end up, and be happy anyways, and be happy anyways.  Most things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to, and you know what?---most things don’t work out exactly the way God would want them to.  [If you’re a Calvinist, or have Calvinist leanings, he just blew your mind J]  You ever think about that?  You can look at the Bible and see how God wants things handled.  Very seldom does anything turn out the way he would want it done.  Yet, he doesn’t, you know, he’s not bitter.  He’s upset, he carries out justice, he punishes people.  But he’s not a bitter, distraught, angry, hateful being.  And, praise God for us that he’s not.  Because just think about what life would be like for you and me, think about that.  Genesis 26, verse 16, “And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.”  Isaac was being blessed, his family was growing, he has a nomadic tribe, he has servants and so forth, he has hundreds of sheep and goats and so forth, and finally Abimelech and the Philistines said, ‘You’ve got to move out of our town here, you’re bigger than us.’  “And Isaac departed from thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.  And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham, and he called their names after the names which his father had called them.”  So Abraham had dug wells, they were his wells, ah, when they moved away, they were a nomadic tribe, they moved around, the Philistines had come in and filled in the wells. ‘That means old Abraham won’t show up anymore, because we filled in his wells.’  Well Isaac goes out and digs up the wells again.  Also Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found a well of running water there.  He discovers a brand new well of running water, which in that part of the world is very rare, and you know, water is life.  Well you would think people would be happy.  But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, ‘the water is ours.’  They called the name of the place Esek, which basically means ‘We had a fight.’  Now, I know what I would think if I was Isaac.  ‘First of all, this is Abraham’s land, God gave it to me, ah, these are my wells.  I might share them with you, but if you’re going to take them, come and get ‘em.’  My sword would have been out.  Or he could have said, ‘Hey,’ and knowing Isaac I’m surprised he didn’t do this, ‘I’ll sell you some water.’  [laughter]  I know Jacob would have said that.  ‘I’ll sell you some water.’  But what did Isaac do?  Then they dug another well, and so he moved on and dug another well.  And they quarreled over that one.  You know, you just had to live with these people.  I want you to think about something here.  He had every right to win.  But he realized, for one thing in that part of the world, if you started a feud, you had a blood-feud, all he had to do is kill somebody from that other nomadic tribe, and guess what?---they’d have been at war for generations.  That would have gone on and on and on and on. He had to live with these people.  And he decided not wining here was the best thing to do, not winning was the best thing to do.  He had the wells that Abraham had dug, those were his.  These new wells, he was walking away from them.  [read verses 16-22]  He had every right to say ‘That’s my well!’  He had every right even to think of saying ‘That’s my well!’  They were his wells.  And then, verse 22, “And he removed from thence and digged another well; and for that they strove not:  and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”  And no one quarreled over this one, everyone said, ‘You know,  what a guy, he dug a well and let us have it.’  He dug a well over here, and everybody backed off.  Because of his willingness not to fight for his rights at those points, eventually something good happened.  There’s a time to make a stand for right and wrong, there’s a time to confront a brother who has sinned, and we’ll go through that.  We are required at times to confront our brothers who have sinned, we’re actually required to do so.  But there’s a time to say, ‘This isn’t about winning, this really isn’t.’  And notice what happened.  ‘And they did not quarrel over it.  So he called the name Rehoboth, because he said ‘For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.’’  God gave him a well.  God gave him the best.  God gave him a better well.  And he said, ‘You know, God’s taken care of me in this.  God’s taken care of me in this.’  What an important lesson.  When it comes to pride, it’s not always about winning.  It’s not always about winning.  It’s about learning how to live together.  It’s not always having to be right, even when you are right.  That’s the hard part.  It’s not always about being right, even when you are right, because it’s about living together.  And he had to live with these people.  These nomadic tribes would be moving all over the place, crossing each other’s paths.  He didn’t want them, every time they saw each other everybody had to go grab their weapons.  He didn’t want that.  Important lesson when it comes to pride. 

 

In Summation

 

The ministry of reconciliation begins with understanding and accepting how God is reconciling you to him through Christ.  After receiving this help from God, we now have to decide how do we act toward a brother or sister who has offended us, who has committed a real sin, who has done something to us.  Now if you go through that list of questions I gave you, you may find that sometimes it’s like ‘You know, they didn’t really do anything wrong, I’m just being grouchy.  They didn’t really do anything wrong, that’s just my pride.’  You may find there are times, ‘You know what, this isn’t important enough to worry about.’  There’s other times you say, ‘This isn’t really about winning, just let it go.’  There’s other times you say, ‘I will cover my brother or sister’s transgression because I love them that much.’  There’s times you say, ‘I’ll walk away from this one because there’s collateral damage, and the collateral damage is so great, it is so great, that I will take the wrong, so that I do not harm others.’  It’s all in Scripture, we’ve all gone through this.  When they spit on Jesus Christ, the collateral damage for him to fight back at that point would have been all of us.  Think about that.  The collateral damage of being spit on and reacting, in his case, where he was at that point, the collateral damage was all of us.  To walk away from that sacrifice, we all died.  So once you go to God for help, that’s the first step when you’ve been hurt, then you decide to be proactive by not repaying evil for evil, you see God’s solution instead of trying to make the offender meet your expectations.  You deal with your own anger and bitterness, and need to involve others in the discontent.  And you realize it’s not always about winning.  Now once you’ve done all this, you’re ready to go confront the offender.  But it’s only after we’ve done all this, that we’re truly ready to go confront the offender, to go deal with somebody else’s sin.  So next time, next time we will cover what the offender must do.  And we will cover the concept of repentance towards another person.  And then, we’ll be able to go through some of the ideas in the Bible about what it means to confront somebody, how we are supposed to go to those, how we are supposed to reconcile, and what we’re supposed to do with those who just won’t reconcile.  So you can see, as we study the ministry of reconciliation, about how God is reconciling us to him, now we must learn how to apply those same teachings to each other.  [Transcript of the third sermon in the six part series on the Ministry of Reconciliation given by Gary Petty, Pastor the United Church of God, San Antonio, Texas.  Copyright © The United Church of God.  Source UCG site: http://san-antonio.ucg.org/sermons ] 

 

end part III

 

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