Life’s Hurts, Habits and Hang-ups and Their Healing Choices
Subtitle: Repairing Relationships (Matt. 5:23-26; 6:12; 18:15-17; Acts 15:36-41)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on July 7
We are on the sixth message about Life’s Healing Choices: let’s go over the 8 principles:
Celebrate Recovery’s Eight Recovery Principles
The Road to Recovery Based on the Beatitudes
- Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable. (Step 1 of the 12 step method)
“Happy are those who know that they are spiritually poor.” Matthew 5:3a TEV.
- Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover. (Step 2 of the 12 step method)
“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 TEV, NIV
- Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. (Step 3 of the 12 step method)
“Happy are the meek.” Matthew 5:5a TEV
- Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. (Steps 4 and 5 of the 12 step method)
“Happy are the pure in heart.” Matthew 5:8a TEV
- Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. (Steps 6 and 7 of the 12 step method)
“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires” Matthew 5:6a TEV
- Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others. (Steps 8 and 9 of the 12 step method)
“Happy are the merciful.” Matthew 5:7a TEV; “Happy are the peacemakers” Matthew 5:9 TEV
- Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. (Steps 10 and 11 of the 12 step method)
- Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words. (Step 12 of the 12 step method)
“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.” Matthew 5:10 TEV
Think about the divisions within the church. Actually, let’s be interactive. I remember sitting with my uncle at a family picnic when he said, “He had been hurt more by Christians than by non-Christians.” Now, why would he say that? Could it be true? Do Christians hurt each other? Why does the devil attack from within?
Raise your hand if…
If you have ever been hurt by something someone who claimed to be a Christian said– raise your hand.
Okay, I do not want to have you raise your hand for anymore of these because we hopefully have visitors:
Just think: Do not raise your hand:
Have you ever hurt someone with your words being a Christian yourself?
Have you ever left church in tears because of gossip or rumors?
Have you ever been angered at church because of something wrongfully said about you?
Have you wrongfully said something about someone else at church?
Have you spread the gossip or the rumor?
Have you been unloving?
Have others been unloving to you? I know this is broad.
The church is a place for sinners. The church is a place for people who do wrong things and I am one of them. But the church is also a place where once we commit to Christ we commit to grow and change and not get worse but get better.
Several years ago, actually five years ago, I was with my then three year old, Mercedes, she wanted to build a sand castle with gravel on the driveway. She did not know that that little bit of gravel on the driveway would not build a sand castle. She did not know how much better the sand on the beach will be. Likewise, we come to know Jesus and we are sinners, we are sinners our whole life, but as we grow in Christ we grow out of certain sins. This means that we realize that life is different. Before we were playing trying to build sandcastles with gravel on a driveway, but Jesus wants us to grow into Christ followers who are not wrestling daily with the same old stuff. Jesus wants us to have a renewed perspective and then we are building sandcastles on the beach by the ocean. Then we will still offend people and still sin, but hopefully not the same old stuff and not as much. Hopefully then we make things right. So, let’s talk about that.
I hope we can talk about that now. Let’s look at a passage where the Apostle Paul had a difference with Barnabas. They part ways, but I want to make the case that though they part ways, they do so agreeably. I want to talk about Biblical restoration. I want to challenge you to Biblical restoration.
My theme today:
Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others. (Steps 8 and 9 of the 12 step method)
Read Acts 15:36-41 with me:
36 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”37 Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. 38 But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
- Let’s start with Paul and Barnabas, they are an example of forgiveness and reconciliation. Notice that Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement.
- This disagreement is in verse 37. Barnabas was an encourager, he wants to give John Mark a second chance. Now, what happened with John Mark? In Acts 13:13 Paul and Barnabas were on their first missionary journey and John Mark went home to Jerusalem. There may have been several reasons for this: NIV text note of Acts 13:13: “homesicknesss to get back to Jerusalem, an illness of Paul necessitating a change in plans and a trip to Galatia, and a change in leadership from Barnabas to Paul have all been suggested as reasons for John Mark’s return.” (to Jerusalem). Either way, now Barnabas is saying, “Let’s give him a second chance.” Paul says, “No way.”
- Verse 39 says that they had a “Sharp” disagreement.”
- Have you ever had a “Sharp” disagreement? What do you do? How do you handle it?
- I was once listening to a counseling program and a couple had little snicker bars all over the house and someone asked, “Why are there snicker bars all over the house?” The couple said that was to give them a timeout. You see when they are in the heat of an argument and they are in a sharp disagreement and they need a timeout, but you know we don’t want to take a timeout, do we? So, what they do is grab a little snickers bar, the little ones. Then they think and resume.
- It is recommended that people need timeouts, but they are hard to take.
- I think Paul, the Apostle needed a timeout.
- Paul is a “Driven” personality. We all “fight” or “flight,” Paul fights.”
- They had a sharp disagreement. Paul and Barnabas were partners and sometimes we like to take this passage and say even the best of Christians have massive arguments. I read one source that said that sometimes we take this passage too far. We take it and make it look like they had a “knockdown, drag out, fight.” We don’t know that. We know they disagreed, we know they disagreed strongly, sharply, we know they needed a “timeout” or a snickers bar and there were none around. But you know what else we know; it appears there were no hurt feelings. Look at these verses: 2 Tim. 4:11: Only Luke is with me. Get [John] Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.Also: Col. 4:10: My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Philemon 24: And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. 1 Cor. 9:6: Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?
- So, it does appear that Paul and John Mark were okay later on, and even with each other later on. It appears that Paul and Barnabas were okay later on.
- What else happens in this passage? Sometimes we are stuck making sandcastles in a driveway with a little bit of gravel. Step back.
- In verses 39-41 two missionary journeys happened instead of one. Barnabas took John Mark and Paul took Silas. God spread the Great Commission more this way. Isn’t that awesome!
- Secondly, Paul chose Silas and Silas was a Roman citizen and we will hear more about that in chapter 16:37.
- Point of application: who do you have to reconcile with?
- Matthew 5:23-26: Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 25 Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.
- This passage is telling us that restoration is more important than an offering.
- Relationships are important.
- Let’s look at one other passage of Scripture: Matthew 18:15-17: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
- Conflict resolution begins with a small circle.
- You go and talk to the person who has offended you. Then, if there is no resolution you bring another person in. Then two people in and then the church leadership.
- Remember: What did Jesus say? You leave your offering and go and bring restoration and then come back to worship. Restoration is more important than giving! Those commands come from God’s Word.
- Forgiveness is critical, let go
- We must confess sin.
- Matthew 6:12: ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
- I want to say a few words about the passage itself:
- This is the Lord’s prayer and notice that this request implies that we have forgiven others. Richard Foster says that we always must give in order to be able to receive. He says, “It is simply that by the very nature of the created order we must give in order to receive. I cannot, for instance, receive love if I do not give love. People may try to offer me love, but if resentment and vindictiveness fill my heart, their offers will roll off me like water off a duck’s back. If my fists are clenched and my arms folded tightly around myself, I cannot hold anything.”
- So, we forgive others and we receive God’s forgiveness.
- Forgive others: Okay, but the second part of this petition is that we forgive others, why and how?
- Jesus said to forgive repeatedly (Matthew 18:21-25).
- Withholding forgiveness leads to actual hate and that builds up inside. I was in a pastoral counseling class where I heard a process which helped me understand forgiveness better:
Below from Dr. Stratton, Asbury Theological Seminary
- Remember the hurt: you don’t have to forget
“When we are hurt, we often try to protect ourselves by denying it. But if unforgiveness keeps intruding into your thoughts and feelings, consider forgiving. Recall the hurt as objectivelyas possible. Don’t rail against the person who hurt you, waste time wishing for an apology that will never be offered, or dwell on your victimization. Instead, admit that a wrong was done to you and set your sights on its repair.” (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)
Empathy involves seeing things from another person’s point of view and identifying with the pressures that made the person hurt you.
How would he or she explain the harmful acts? Forgiveness is facilitated when we can look at the transgression from multiple perspectives. The harmful act is seen more objectively when we can step outside of the victim role. We have a chance to view what happened from a bigger perspective – one that includes the human and the divine. (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)
- Altruistic gift: selfless gift
Empathy can prepare you for forgiving, but to give that gift of forgiveness, consider yourself. Have you ever harmed or offended a friend, a parent, or a partner who later forgave you? Think about your guilt. Then consider the way you felt when you were forgiven. Most people say, “I felt free. The chains were broken.” By recalling your own guilt and the gratitudeover being forgiven, you can develop the desire to give that gift of freedom to the person who hurt you. (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)
- Commitment: you will have to stay committed
When you forgive, you can eventually doubt that you have forgiven. When people remember a previous injury or offense, they often interpret it as evidence that they must not have forgiven. If you make your forgiveness tangible, you are less likely to doubt it later. Tell a friend, partner, or counselor that you have forgiven the person who hurt you. Write a “certificate of forgiveness,” stating that you have, as of today, forgiven. (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)
- Hold on
When you doubt that you’ve forgiven, remind yourself of the Pyramid, refer to your certificate of forgiveness, and tell yourself that a painful memory does not disqualify the hard work of forgiving that you have done. Instead of trying to stop unforgiving thoughts, think realistically about the forgiveness you have experienced. If you continue to doubt your forgiveness, work back through these steps to REACH forgiveness. (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)
So, have you been offended? Have you offended someone else? Maybe it is time to make things right. Maybe it is time to apologize. Ask for forgiveness. Yes, we are all sinners. We are all sinners, we are all making sand castles on a driveway not on a beach, but as we grow in Christ God wants us to be more like Him and less like the world and that means that God wants us to be more loving. God wants us to be reconciled. God wants us to step back and see the beach some day. God wants us to realize that you cannot make a sand castle on a driveway, but you can on a beach. Likewise, we really cannot have a holistic body until we are reconciled and we deal with those things that entangle us. Please, I urge you, in love, approach each other this week. Just one on one. Pray first. We see that the Apostle Paul, Barnabas and John Mark’s disagreement did not separate them.
Do you know Jesus?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
Richard Foster’s book on Prayer page 186-187