Restoring Broken Relationships

Restoring Broken Relationships

Matthew 18:15-17″If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. 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. If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. If the church decides you are right, but the other person won’t accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.”  Late one summer evening on an interstate, a weary truck driver pulled his rig into an all-night truck stop. The waitress had just served him when three tough looking, leather jacketed motorcyclist- of the Hell’s Angels type decided to give him a hard time. Not only did they verbally abuse him, one grabbed the hamburger off his plate, another took a handful of his French fries, and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it. How do you think he responded? He calmly rose, picked up the check, walked to the front of the room, put the check and his money on the cash register, and went out the door.{{more}} The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away into the night. When she returned, one of the bikers said to her, “Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?” She replied, “I do not know about that, but he sure is not much of a truck driver. He just ran over three motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot.” Many of us may understand how this truck driver feels. It is hard to be nice to some people. The gospel teaches us that you have an obligation to every person, not just to the people who are nice. This week we will look at a passage where Jesus instructs his disciples on how to heal a broken relationship God’s way.In today’s world it is littered with broken relationships. You have them in your families between husbands and wives, parents and children. You face them between employers and employees, with neighbors, different ethnic and social groups, between nations. What is the solution? Is there a way to repair the breech, to rebuild the bridge, to restore the relationship? I believe God gives us a vital key to restore relationships. We do not talk about it much, but the Bible does. It is the key of humility. In essence, it is living out the Great Commandment to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. It means focusing on God and other people, not self. What are some of the causes of broken relationships? In a church where I used to attend two friends of mine had a broken relationship. One did some work for the other one, and it was not acceptable when it was finished. They have not spoken since, and they attend the same church. One is a believer and one is not. I do not know who is right and who is wrong or at fault. The Bible does not mention who is right or wrong only that reconciliation is necessary. However, the greater responsibility for reconciliation of a relationship is on the Christian. The cause can be direct or indirect, material or personal such as unkind words spoken wounding actions, misunderstanding and good things undone.Some preliminary steps in restoring relationships are to realize you were reconciled to God through Jesus. Refuse to allow broken relationships in your life. Do all you can to restore. Remember it does not matter who is at fault. It has been my experience that a long dispute means that both parties are wrong.Here are some Biblical ways to restore broken relationships when the offender is not saved. The bible forbids retaliation in personal relationships. “Do not retaliate” Jesus is not so much saying what to do, as what not to do. Jesus goes on to say your convenience and possessions are less important than relationships. The mark of community true biblical unity is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of a reconciling spirit. You have to overlook minor offenses. Proverbs 17:9 says, “Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and good-bye, friend! Proverbs 19:11 says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” 1st Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” You have to confront those things you cannot just overlook. If you cannot overlook, and or forgive than you must confront. In a church I know well one lady slapped another ladies child in the nursery. When the lady found out about it she was furious, but she did not want to say anything. Her pastor encouraged her to talk to the other lady about what had happened. When she confronted her in love, the other lady apologized and tears of reconciliation flowed. If she had not confronted as the bible directs the relationship would have stayed broken.When you have been wronged and cannot get justice through church channels, Drop it! When you have something against another Christian, why do you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter, instead of taking it to other Christians to decide who is right? Do you not know that someday Christians are going to judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, cannot you decide these little things among yourselves? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disagreements here on earth. If you have legal disputes about such matters, why do you go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? I am saying this to shame you. Is not there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these arguments? But instead, one Christian sues another right in front of unbelievers! To have such lawsuits at all is a real defeat for you. Even if you do all the right things, and use all the right channels there is no guarantee you will get a resolution of the problem. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” Do not nag and complain, drop it and go on with life. You have to learn to live with some things we cannot change. You do not have to agree in order to reconcile. You may agree to disagree, but the relationship is reconciled in spite of the disagreement in this one area.You have to forgive those who ask. Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Amen! Relationships are important. They are important to God and his kingdom, and they are important to your spiritual and emotional health. God does not allow us to discard relationships that do not make us happy like disposable things. You are not permitted to use relationships, and then dispose of them, and go find another. You are required to reconcile the relationship if at all possible. Here are some tips for helping restore broken relationships. Pray first. When you talk to others about broken relationships, you may tend to gossip. When you talk to God and ask his help, you work toward fixing the relationship. Go first. It does not matter if you did it or they did it to you, you need to be the first one working toward getting it made right. Humble yourself! Think about them. Try to see it from their point of view. Arguments take two people, and you may both be right and wrong about some things. Admit you did it too. Do not wait to see what they do, if you were in the wrong, even a little, admit what you did wrong. Go after the problem. Do not bring up the past. Do not bring up new things. Do not insult the person. Just try to fix the real problem that got you here. Cooperate. Do not try to fix unimportant things. Worry about the big stuff, and just try to get along when you don’t see eye to eye. Try to get back together and not get even! Marriages, friendships, even churches tend to split over little things. You should work on living in peace, not trying to find out where someone is wrong and making that an issue. If they are wrong, try to work on that peaceably. Do not say, “I told you so” if they ever learn that they are wrong. You have to know which relationships are worth restoring. Remember Romans 12:18, “Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody.” Think about it; what relationship in your life is broken, and what do you need to do to get it right. Now you know how to restore broken relationships.