The author of Hebrews tells us to pursue peace and last week we saw how important it is to preserve unity in the church. We saw that one of the main tools of the devil, which he uses to disrupt the work of God in any generation, is strife between people. He tries to confuse our thoughts and plant bitter roots. Today were going to look at the second half of that message, focusing on the basic steps which each of us must take in order to maintain peaceful relationships.
Peace is the fruit of hard labor. Its never an accident. It isnt what happens when only nice people are in the room. There are essential skills which a person must learn and consistently practice if loving unity is to exist in any group of people. This is true in marriage, family, at work, with friends and even among groups as large as cities and nations. If each of us will take these matters to heart and do what we can to pursue peace, well discover that Gods presence will grow stronger and stronger and many will be saved and healed (Ac 2:46, 47).
When we spot division we must take the healing steps Jesus has taught us. Doing so transforms a potential victory for the enemy into a situation which the Holy Spirit works together for good (Ro 8:28) to leave us stronger. Here are some basic steps to removing division:
1) Obey the Word: do what you do by faith expecting Gods blessing for your obedience and His help in the process.
a) Matthew 5:23, 24 - if
your brother has something against you
b) Mark 11:25 - forgive if you have anything against anyone
2) Learn how to reconcile: its a skill that takes practice
a) You take the first step
b) Stay peaceful, refuse to get angry
c) Stay focused: your goal is to restore peace and Gods love, not win an argument
d) Remember, real peace is based on truth, not you taking all the blame (speaking the truth in love
e) Apologize for the sin you recognize in yourself. Dont demand they reciprocate.
f) In certain areas of our minds we live in a mental bubble which pictures us as a victim, so we dont see our own actions as cruel, but as necessary to protect ourselves from further abuse.
g) To have peace we must be willing to accept our own part of the problem. When the Holy Spirit shows you the truth, youll be amazed at how much you contributed to the problem. This is normal because we are all broken and sinful and do things we dont intend for reasons we dont understand.
Fear: Ill never let that happen again!
Anger: Im still punishing you though youre not here
Ambition: Im trying to convince myself Im doing this for God, not me
h) Clarify false impressions as much as you can. Dont ignore a lie, it has a demonic energy that will cause it to grow.
i) Listen long enough for them to tell their story once. They need to know you understand the pain they have suffered. Reconciliation cant take place until this happens first.
Revenge can be an attempt to see that you suffer the same level of pain you caused me.
j) Remember it takes two to truly restore a relationship, and if that person refuses theres nothing you can do. But remain calm and respectful.
k) Close with prayer if possible.
3) Never forget the value of that person to God.
a) This isnt about you. Dont do anything that will hinder their relationship with God.
4) Maintain a forgiving heart even when you cant fully restore the relationship.
a) Some broken relationships cant be fixed. Youll come to a peaceful disagreement.
You both, with full integrity, simply see a matter so differently that apart from a miraculous revelation theres just too deep a disagreement. (They never understand what youre trying to say or refuse to accept any blame. Do what you can and move on, always remaining open to a miracle.)
In the process, you discover you really never knew that person. You assumed they felt differently about you than they really did. In this case there is nothing to restore. A whole new relationship would have to be built with someone you have just met. Circumstances may or may not allow for the investment of time and energy it would take.
5) Keep the door open for that person to return
a) The Holy Spirit will continue to use that event to speak to their heart. They may call you years later.
b) We must let people change and grow. Dont hold them forever to the past.
c) Acts 12:12; 25; 13:13; 15:36-40; Colossians 4:10
d) 20 years later: 2 Timothy 4:9-11
As believers we are called to pursue peace with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike. And theres good reason for this: it breaks one of the devils primary weapons to diminish the power of God. For most of us learning to be at peace with others is a skill we have to learn, and keep learning the rest of our lives. But the reward is great: it allows Gods presence to rest upon us (Ps 133).