Message Recap – 7/8/11 – Get Out of Jail Free, Part 2

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We've just started a powerful series last week, and this week we're already at the last part. Take a moment to read Part 1. No, really. It's pretty short, and really good. Go, now. Read it.
Done? OK, now on to Part 2!
So, tonight we are talking about the practical application of forgiveness; the mechanics of forgiveness.
What do we do when someone hurts us? How do we handle it? Does the Bible have anything to say about what to do when someone hurts us? Stay tuned!
Pastor Dan does not like confrontation. He's pretty passive. So, when he became youth pastor, he quickly had to learn how to do certain things that require confrontation. Confrontation is not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes it is needed. There were some bumps in the road at first, but he's now become pretty good at facing confrontation. But it's still never easy to have those serious, tense conversations where you have to say something the other person doesn't want to hear.
Most of us, like Pastor Dan, prefer to avoid this as much as possible. We pretend everything is just fine at the time, then later on complain about that person behind their back. We tend to just hold it all in, until finally we explode at the oddest moment, letting loose all the pent up anger.
This may come as a shock to you, but that's not the best way to handle this type of situation.
Guess what? Jesus has something to say about people issues like this.
First, in Matthew 18:15-16 Jesus says: "If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses."
You'll notice that Jesus doesn't say that when someone sins against you, you should gossip about them behind their back. Or complain about them on Facebook. But it's easy to fall into that, because facing the person outright is hard. It's uncomfortable. It's awkward. So we avoid that by telling everyone else about it.
But Jesus says to go to them first, face to face. Confront the issue.
Now, it is hard to confront the issue in love and humility rather than from a place of superiority.
Be humble. When pointing out something they've done wrong, do it in a way that does not bring resentment. If you come with pride, full of yourself, as an antagonist, the person will not receive it well.
It's hard. It's not easy. But if it was easy, Jesus wouldn't have to tell us to do it, would He?
Here are a few tips for having that tough conversation:
1. Start with forgiveness, and then go to the person for that conversation. Instead of coming with a sense that they owe you and have to make it up to you, start from the right place.
2. Give them an out. Don't make it a competition with winners and losers, keeping score by the number of apologies received. Come from a place of love, assuming the best about the other person. Assume that they didn't mean to hurt you. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Find a way for them to back down and apologize without them feeling like they lost.
3. Be willing to recognize your own faults. Learn from the situation. Even though you were the one wronged, you probably didn't behave perfectly either. You can't change anybody but yourself, and if you go through life trying to change others you will just be frustrated. If you go through life trying to change yourself, you will grow as a person and a Christian. By recognizing your own mistakes it opens the door for grace & love, and makes it easier for the other person to apologize as well.
If you go about it this way, in humility and love, with an open mind, 90% of the time you will be able to work it out positively.
Pastor Dan has seen this principle work, even in extremely volatile situations.
But, sometimes it doesn't. In that case, Jesus says to bring 1 or 2 other people into the situation. No, not a lawyer. Just find someone trustworthy who can listen and hear both sides.
Sometimes both sides are so emotionally involved in the situation that they can't hear the other person's perspective and the conflict can't be resolved.
With an intermediary (usually a friend of both parties), you can almost always find a common ground and end on good terms. But for the .001% of the time when it still doesn't work out, Jesus tells us what to do in Matthew 5:43-45:
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike."
If you still have an enemy, even after following the steps laid out above; forgive them. Pray for them.
If you are facing one of these .001% situations, go and talk to your pastor. Get help, get prayer, get counsel.
In the end, we all have people issues. There's a right way and a wrong way to deal with them. If we deal with them the wrong way, we have more stress, tension and discord in our lives. If we deal with them the right way we can live our lives in greater peace. We can avoid the prison of unforgiveness.

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