The problem with relationships is that they involve flawed people. And if it’s a relationship you’re involved in, that includes YOU J In fact, you may be in a situation now where there is a distance between you and someone you care very much about or who you used to be quite close to. The Bible says that it is incumbent upon us to seek to be peacemakers. We will look at three steps that will help provide the AHA! on how to bring about reconciliation God’s way. The ACTION we take, the HUMILITY we embody, and the ATTITUDE we adopt all work together in God’s system to bring about healing to fractured friendships. To give credit where credit is due, I have adapted this liberally from Day 20 in The Purpose Driven Life.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Things to think about:
· If you have been reading these notes for any length of time, you know that I’m a fan of the quote, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
o Being right and being in relationship don’t always go together. When the greater good is perceived to be winning the argument, it is almost guaranteed we will lose the person.
o Do you wrestle with this issue?
· Our verse says that it is our responsibility to see to live at peace with everyone, at least so far as it depends on us.
· This may seem obvious but the first step in all matters is to bring it to God in prayer.
o James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
§ Relationships are so tricky sometimes that without God’s wisdom we are almost assured of a poor outcome left to our own devices.
· Take the initiative
o Ephesians 4:25-27, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
o It is uncomfortable and it takes energy to address a conflict.
o Do you tend to procrastinate, “waiting for the right time” or are you more of a take-charge kind of person?
o Why is not letting something fester the best course of action?
· Two ears, one mouth: use them in that order! We are told in James 1:19 , “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
o Listening is an act of humility. To seek to understand the other person’s perspective may give you new information that you didn’t have before. It may help provide empathy to the other’s situation that helps you understand their motivations and feelings.
§ Have you ever been in an argument where you or the other person is just repeating what has already been said? When we don’t feel like we are being heard, we just go on Repeat and dial up the volume!
§ What are other benefits of listening first?
· Admit your role in whatever the issue is that is causing division.
o James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to one another…”
o Rarely is a disagreement all one-sided. Admitting your part in it creates an environment where the other person loses their defensiveness and feels it is OK to admit their part in the conflict too.
o Have you ever experienced this?
· Focus on the problem, not the person
o Personal attacks, anger, name calling, etc. only serve to drive people apart. There may be some immediate “feel good” of blowing off steam but the damage inflicted is never worth it.
o Back to Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin…do not give the Devil a stronghold”
§ So who is the winner when we go off on someone?
· A spirit of cooperation
o Back to our verse for this study, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
o We are not responsible for what everybody else does but we are accountable for our actions. Our natural wiring is to be selfish and to get what we want. The Christ-like attitude is to seek to be at peace with everyone, so far as it depends on you.
· Reconciliation does not equal resolution
o Some issues will not be resolved as we would wish. We live in a fallen world with fallen people. However, that doesn’t mean that we cannot be in relationship with people we don’t see eye-to-eye with.
· Especially within the body of believers, unity is paramount.
o John 17:20-21, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me”
o Moreover, He says that an unbelieving world is watching how we work things out within the Church and it is our primary evidence if this thing called Christianity is real and worth believing in.
· What does AHA look like from God’s perspective?
o Philippians 2:5-8, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by be obedient to death even death on a cross!
§ Who is God putting on your heart right now to reach out to and begin to repair and restore a broken relationship?
§ Is whatever might be holding you back worth the internal energy and turmoil that not addressing it is causing?
§ Is there anything that as far as it depends on you, you can do today to live at peace with everyone?
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