One of the great struggles in resolving everyday conflict is to see our part in the story. This is especially true when the greater sin lies with the other person or you think it does, they started it, they said the cruel words, they bagged you out on social media.
As I said last week we can freely talk about our pain and the other person's sin, but we find it almost impossible to talk about our sin and the other person's pain
Today, Jesus is giving the master class on disciple training. The question for you is, who is shaping how you respond to conflict?
He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? ~Luke 6:39 (NIV)
Too often we let the wrong people set the agenda for how we respond to conflict and then we pay the price. What did you learn from your parents? Did they ignore or ignite conflict? When you tell your friends about a conflict; do they feed your sense of self-righteousness and justify your refusal to forgive or nurture an attitude of entitlement?
The challenge for us is will you let Jesus tell you what it means to be his disciple? Will you stop telling Jesus why you don’t have to love your enemy? That its always someone else’s fault and never yours? Lets face it Jesus knows a little about conflict,
He has reconciled the world to himself. Jesus has told his disciples how to think about those who hate you, reject you and insult you.
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. ~Luke 6:27 (NIV)
The enemy is clear, it’s a person who curses you, mistreats you or takes advantage of you. It's any people who either keep you up at night or you want to get even with.
Which level of love do you live on?
a. Love your friend’s hate your enemies. “…Don’t get mad, get even”
b. Love your friends ignore your enemies…Keep your enemy at a polite distance.
c. Love your friends and love your enemies…Return good for evil
Notice how Jesus is not just calling his followers to tolerate or be polite, four ugly reactions of people meet four grace responses by Jesus people.
When hated - we love
When excluded - we do good
When insulted - we bless
When rejected - we pray for them
It's not just feel good toward them it's doing good toward them. When your enemies make it into your prayers and your prayers are to bless them and not curse you then you’re on your way to higher ground and to glorify God. That is radical. Jesus gets under our skin with his outrageous examples.
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. ~Luke 6:31 (NIV)
That is ridiculous! You won't last one minute in this world, everyone will rip you off. Like going home from church finding thieves loading their boot with your stuff and you say “Hi guys -can you tell me when you’re finished, I will just go and grab a cup of coffee, don’t forget the $300 dollars in the jar under the bed.”
We know they are exaggerated examples to get you thinking… We know that because the Apostle Paul required only widows who are over 60 and proven themselves as faithful in good works to qualify for the church pension. No free handouts here.
Jesus words are dangerous
If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. ~Luke 6:29-31 (NIV)
He is almost inviting abuse. It sounds like you can't have boundaries. But we have an account of when Jesus was struck on the cheek. Jesus is being interrogated by the High Priest and the soldier hits him in the face. What does Jesus do? Feel free to hit me on the other cheek, this is what he does say.
“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” ~John 18:24 (NIV)
That’s what it looks like, Jesus love was expressed in two ways, He confronts the soldier, holding him accountable but he doesn’t wipe him off the face of the earth. Love doesn’t mean we don’t confront, it doesn’t mean we let people walk all over us, it does mean that you approach the enemy wanting to do good to bless and to pray. When you do good, remember you’re like your Father in Heaven and not like the world
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. ~Luke 6:32-34 (NIV)
Call me strange but I have absolutely no problem loving those who love me back. It's true, give me compliments, offer me a gift and I’ll be your best friend. And Jesus says Big Deal! even the sinners do that.
In 2002 they found a scrapbook that belonged to Karl Hocker, it had photos of Nazis at play loving each other, it was those who ran Jewish extermination camps in Auschwitz.
You could rewrite Jesus words and say “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even the ‘Nazis’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even the ‘Nazis’ do that.
All the time while hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were being gassed to death. To return evil for good is of the devil, to return good for good is being human, to return good for evil makes you just like your Father in heaven.
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. ~Luke 6:35-36 (NIV)
Never are we more like our Father in heaven than when we love and do good to our enemies. God will remember, record and reward every act of grace toward your enemy. And it will echo into eternity because it glorifies God.
Elsewhere Jesus says God lets the rainfall on those who love and hate him, God lets the sunshine on the just and unjust, every time you see that sucker rise in the east God is telling you to love your enemies because that is what I am doing every day. Never did that love reach an absolute pinnacle then when Christ died for us while we were his enemies…do to others what you would want them to do to you. Have we not all been an enemy of someone in our lives? Haven’t we all wanted them to show grace to us? It's not like this is optional for disciples wanting to follow Jesus. When we are hurt it's so easy to demonize the other person, we stop thinking the best.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. ~Luke 6:37 (NIV)
Don’t judge…50 years ago John 3:16 was the most well known Bible verse known by Christians, now it's "do not judge, and you will not be judged." We are letting the blind lead the blind. The world is creeping into the church, the world that stops God from speaking, the world which loves sin and hates the saints, the world that loves to call good evil and evil good. So what does Jesus mean by don’t judge? I think the next verse tells us exactly what it means. Don’t condemn:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven ~Luke 6:37 (NIV)
Don’t be quick to play God, don’t be quick to say this backsliding Christian is in hell. I can warn a person that they are heading for hell if they don’t repent but I can't announce they are in hell. I don’t know what they did before they died.
We had one guy who joined us for a time, he thought he was sinless and it didn’t take him long before he was announcing that every person at MBM was not a Christian and for good reason. I was not a Christian because I yawned during prayer time. Do not judge
Imagine 2 people going to the toilets for the first time, one comes out and goes straight to the wash basin to wash their hands but the other person just goes out. Its easy for the person washing their hands to think how disgusting that the other person has not washed their hands, not knowing that the other toilet had its own washbasin Don’t judge, you don’t have all the information.
Stop trying to judge the motives of people. You’re not God, only he knows the heart, don’t be quick to think the worst, resist the urge to demonize, especially those who hurt you.
So how do we correct each other and not fall into this sin? Approach a person assuming the best and that the hurt was unintentional, that it was thoughtless, not malicious, speak to them as though you’re the greater sinner.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. ~Luke 6:41-42 (NIV)
The person who judges tends to overestimate the sins of others and underestimate their own sin. Wouldn’t we all get along with each other much better if we assumed we are the bigger sinner? It has to be this way! Because you live with you 24/7. You know what you think or say or do 24/7. You know the motives behind what you say and do, you see more of your sin than anyone else, it has to be that way. Whenever you speak to another always assume that you are the greater sinner.
So, it will always be a speck in their eye and plank in the other, as you face the person you’re in conflict with, remember the telegraph pole in your eye and eye lash in the other person. You may spend more time focusing on your sin and their pain, than focusing on your pain and their sin.
This will come out in how you apologise, you may be aware that you played a small part in the conflict.
They may or may own their failure but you know your father in heaven sees what you have done and is pleased. We play to an audience of one! Your conscious is clear and God is glorified.