The Four G’s – pt. 4

As we continue this series on the Four G’s, we will look at the 4th G, Go and Be Reconciled.

4th G: Go and Be Reconciled

One of the most unique features of biblical peacemaking is the pursuit of genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. Even though Christians have experienced the greatest forgiveness in the world, we often fail to show that forgiveness to others. To cover up our disobedience we often use the shallow statement, “I forgive her—I just don’t want to have anything to do with her again.” Just think, however, how you would feel if God said to you, “I forgive you; I just don’t want to have anything to do with you again”?

Praise God that he never says this! Instead, he forgives you totally and opens the way for genuine reconciliation. He calls you to forgive others in exactly the same way: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:12-14; see also 1 Cor. 13:5; Psalm 103:12; Isa. 43:25). One way to imitate God’s forgiveness is to make the Four Promises of Forgiveness when you forgive someone.

Remember that forgiveness is a spiritual process that you cannot fully accomplish on your own. Therefore, as you seek to forgive others, continually ask God for grace to enable you to imitate his wonderful forgiveness toward you.

Reflect: What does it mean to forgive others as God has forgiven us? What are some areas in your life where reconciliation has been withheld?

Note: Interested in learning some more on the subject of forgivness? Watch our video of Chris Brauns discussing what it looks like when we “unpack” forgiveness here.

Hiding Among the Trees.

As a child, when I did wrong, my only desire was to hide it.  I didn’t want to get in trouble.  I didn’t want my parents to be angry.  But despite my efforts to hide my sin, my parents always figured it out.  If I did not confess, I had a brother who would for me.  As an adult, you would think I would’ve overcome this, but I haven’t.  When I hurt someone, even if minimal, I struggle with confessing it.  I want to hide my sin and camouflage it with my good works.  I look at the other person’s sin, and the only offense that I overlook is my own.

Despite knowing that God is all knowing, I hide my sin in my heart.  I justify it by twisting the words of God.  I take his words out of context and choose to listen to the ones that will comfort my guilt. 

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3: 8

Are you in hiding?  Are there any confessions that you need to make today?

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”  1 John 1: 8-10

The Four G’s – Pt. 3

Today we are looking at the 3rd G, Gently Restore, in our series on The Four G’s. The first two G’s are Glorify God, and Get the Log Out of Your Own Eye.

3rd G: Gently Restore

Another key principle of peacemaking involves an effort to help others understand how they have contributed to a conflict. When Christians think about talking to someone else about a conflict, one of the first verses that comes to mind is Matthew 18:15: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.” If this verse is read in isolation, it seems to teach that we must always use direct confrontation to force others to admit they have sinned. If the verse is read in context, however, we see that Jesus had something much more flexible and beneficial in mind than simply standing toe to toe with others and describing their sins.

Just before this passage, we find Jesus’ wonderful metaphor of a loving shepherd who goes to look for a wandering sheep and then rejoices when it is found (Matt. 18:12–14). Thus, Matthew 18:15 is introduced with a theme of restoration, not condemnation. Jesus repeats this theme just after telling us to “go and show him his fault” by adding, “If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” And then he hits the restoration theme a third time in verses 21–35, where he uses the parable of the unmerciful servant to remind us to be as merciful and forgiving to others as God is to us (Matt. 18:21–35).

Jesus is clearly calling for something much more loving and redemptive than simply confronting others with a list of their wrongs. Similarly, Galatians 6:1 gives us solid counsel on our what our attitude and purpose ought to be when we go to our brother. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” Our attitude should be one of gentleness rather than anger, and our purpose should be to restore rather than condemn.

Continue reading

Satan’s Favorite Conflict Phrases – PeaceMeal August 25, 2010

“Submit yourselves, then, to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
James 4:7

Satan promotes conflict in many ways. Among other things, he tempts us so we give in to greed and dishonesty (Acts 5:3), he deceives us and misleads us (2 Tim. 2:25-26), and he takes advantage of unresolved anger (Eph. 4:26-27). Worst of all, he uses false teachers to propagate values and philosophies that encourage selfishness and stimulate controversy (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Here are some of the expressions that often reflect the devil’s lies and influence:

“Look out for Number One.”
“God helps those who help themselves.”
“Surely God doesn’t expect me to stay in an unhappy situation.”
“I’ll forgive you, but I won’t forget.”
“Don’t get mad, get even.”
“I deserve better than this.”

Satan prefers that we do not recognize his role in our conflicts. As long as we see other people as our only adversaries and focus our attacks on them, we will give no thought to guarding against our most dangerous enemy.

Adapted from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) pp. 50-51.

 

Food for Thought

Read Jesus’ responses to Satan’s temptations in Matthew 4:1-11:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’and“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,“‘You shall worship the Lord your Godand him only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Note that in contrast to Satan’s favorite expressions noted above, none of Jesus’ responses contain the word, “I”. What’s more, none of Jesus’ responses to Satan even contain the word, “you”–usually our second favorite word in conflict! How do we prevent Satan from getting a foothold in our conflicts? We keep our conflict responses (and our words) God-centered, remembering that if God is not at the center of our thoughts during a conflict, Satan will be altogether too happy to quietly take God’s place.

The Four G’s – Pt. 2

We continue our series on The Four G’s with an explaination of the 2nd G…

 2nd G: Get the log out of your own eye

One of the most challenging principles of peacemaking is set forth in Matthew 7:5, where Jesus says, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

There are generally two kinds of “logs” you need to look for when dealing with conflict. First, you need to ask whether you have had a critical, negative, or overly sensitive attitude that has led to unnecessary conflict. One of the best ways to do this is to spend some time meditating on Philippians 4:2-9, which describes the kind of attitude Christians should have even when they are involved in a conflict.

 The second kind of log you must deal with is actual sinful words and actions. Because you are often blind to your own sins, you may need an honest friend or advisor who will help you to take an objective look at yourself and face up to your contribution to a conflict.

When you identify ways that you have wronged another person, it is important to admit your wrongs honestly and thoroughly. One way to do this is to use the Seven A’s of Confession.

 The most important aspect of getting the log out of your own eye is to go beyond the confession of wrong behavior and face up to the root cause of that behavior. The Bible teaches that conflict comes from the desires that battle in your heart (James 4:1-3; Matt. 15:18-19). Some of these desires are obviously sinful, such as wanting to conceal the truth, bend others to your will, or have revenge. In many situations, however, conflict is fueled by good desires that you have elevated to sinful demands, such as a craving to be understood, loved, respected, or vindicated.

Continue reading

The Four G’s – Pt. 1

We are embarking on a new series today covering the basics of The Four G’s of biblical peacemaking. It’s a seven-part series that I would consider to be a primer on what we as a minstry teach about how to resolve conflict, much like a “Peacemaker Ministries 101” study.

Introduction

Conflict is not necessarily bad or destructive. Even when conflict is caused by sin and causes a great deal of stress, God can use it for good (see Rom. 8:28-29). As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1, conflict actually provides three significant opportunities. By God’s grace, you can use conflict to:

  • Glorify God (by trusting, obeying, and imitating him)
  • Serve other people (by helping to bear their burdens or by confronting them in love)
  • Grow to be like Christ (by confessing sin and turning from attitudes that promote conflict). Continue reading

Screaming Monkeys

As soon as I think I have things figured out, God always finds a way to show me that I have something else that is ugly in my heart that he wants to make beautiful.  Have you ever had someone in your life that has a personality that rubs you the wrong way?  You could even be a person that gets along with almost everyone, but there is just this one person that gets on your last nerve?  There is something about their communication style that makes you want to climb a tree and scream like a chimpanzee.  Perhaps there is even something about them that reminds you of your own faults. 

I am so thankful for a gracious God, because as I have those moments when I am screaming inwardly, God has a tendency of tapping me on the shoulder and showing me the irritating things about me.  I demand things without realizing it.  I covet an ideal idol that I think will satisfy me.  In the process I forget about serving the person in front of me.  We are called to love and serve even those that irritate us the most.

When we serve that person that irritates us, hurt us, or hurt the ones we love:  we glorify our Abba father.  He loves us despite our irritating hang-ups.  He provides the best customer service, and never gets a day off.  I am not worthy of a mansion or garden, but would be satisfied with a cardboard box just as long as I knew that the box would be in the presence of my Master.  We weren’t meant to live this life separated from relationship with our Maker nor those around us:  even the ones that rub us the wrong way.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10: 45

What is keeping you from serving the way God intended?  What is in your heart that he wants to make beautiful?

Time for a Time Out? – PeaceMeal from August 18, 2010

When dealing with difficult people, it is also important to recognize your limits. Even when you continue to do what is right, some people may adamantly refuse to admit you are right or to live at peace with you. This is why Paul wrote, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18). In other words, do all you can to be reconciled with others, but remember that you cannot force others to do what is right. If you have done everything in your power to resolve a conflict, you have fulfilled your responsibility to God and may stop actively trying to solve the problem. If circumstances change and you have new opportunities to seek peace with an opponent, you should certainly try to do so. In the meantime, it is not necessary or wise to waste time, energy, and resources fretting about someone who stubbornly refuses to be reconciled. 

Adapted from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 252. 

Food for Thought

Are you in the middle of a conflict where the harder you’ve tried to make peace, the worse things have gotten? Don’t be discouraged; instead, think about taking a “time out”. Sometimes we think of a time out as giving up. But sports coaches know that time outs are as important to the game as what happens while the clock is running. It gives the players a chance to regroup, to catch their breath, and to listen to the coach’s strategy for success. In the same way, perhaps you are in a conflict that could benefit from a time out–giving you a chance to regroup and seek the Lord for direction. Pray to God for wisdom on how and when to act “as far as it depends on you”–and patience to wait on the window of opportunity He will supply.

What Conflict has to do With the Heart

Since we’ve recently concluded a series about how an idol progresses within our hearts, I thought it might be a good idea to post this recent webinar led by Annette Friesen. It delves a bit deeper into how to better recognize the presence of an idol of the heart by how we feel and react to situations. Annette also gives some very practical examples of how idols of the heart have impacted her life and relationships.

“What Does Conflict have to do With My Heart?” with Annette Friesen from Peacemaker Ministries on Vimeo.

Annette Friesen has spent many hours on the phone as the Intake Coordinator of Peacemaker Ministries talking to everyday people about everyday conflicts and pointing them to the truths of Scripture. In this recorded webinar Annette shares her practical experience, biblical wisdom, and even personal story to encourage us to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts (Col. 3:15).