REFORMATION: HEALING BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS Lesson 12 for September 21, 2013
FROM FRACTURE TO FRIENDSHIP Why did Paul and John Mark go their separate ways (Acts 15:36-39)? How was their broken relationship restored? When John Mark became more mature in his relationship with Christ, he devoted himself to service. He then helped Paul when he was in prison in Rome. Paul accepted John Mark was very helpful and held him in high esteem (Col. 4:10-11; 2Tim. 4:11)
FROM SLAVE TO SON Onesimus was a non-Christian slave who served a Christian master (Philemon) Thanks to Paul’s letter to Philemon, we know that Onesimus didn’t treat his master properly. He stole from him and abandoned him: “he departed for a while” (v. 15); “if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account” (v. 18) How was their broken relationship restored? “I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart” (Philemon 1:12) “The apostle asked Philemon, in view of the conversion of Onesimus, to receive the repentant slave as his own child… The conversion of Onesimus had made him a brother in the faith” E.G.W. (The Acts of the Apostles, cp. 43, pg. 457)
FROM COMPARISON TO COMPLEMENT “For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.”” (1 Corinthians 1:11-12) Comparing ourselves to others generates division and encourages pride. How can we avoid that kind of division? “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:5-6) God gave different gifts to each of us. They were not given to compete with one another, but to complement each other in His work.
FROM FRICTION TO FORGIVENESS “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15) Does my forgiveness depend on the offender? Should I forgive even when the offender does not deserve my forgiveness? DIVINE FORGIVENESS HUMAN FORGIVENESS
“He who is unforgiving cuts off the very channel through which alone he can receive mercy from God. We should not think that unless those who have injured us confess the wrong we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. It is their part, no doubt, to humble their hearts by repentance and confession; but we are to have a spirit of compassion toward those who have trespassed against us, whether or not they confess their faults. However sorely they may have wounded us, we are not to cherish our grievances and sympathize with ourselves over our injuries; but as we hope to be pardoned for our offenses against God we are to pardon all who have done evil to us” E.G.W. (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pg. 113)
FROM RANCOR TO RESTORATION In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus taught us how to treat those who have offended us, so we can restore that broken relationship. “Go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” Did you become reconciled? No Yes “If he will not hear, take with you one or two more” Did you become reconciled? No Yes “If he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church” Yes YOU HAVE GAINED YOUR BROTHER Did you become reconciled? No “Let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector”
“Whatever the character of the offense, this does not change the plan that God has made for the settlement of misunderstandings and personal injuries. Speaking alone and in the spirit of Christ to the one who is in fault, will often remove the difficulty. Go to the erring one, with a heart filled with Christ’s love and sympathy, and seek to adjust the matter. Reason with him calmly and quietly. Let no angry words escape your lips. Speak in a way that will appeal to his better judgment. Remember the words, “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20)… All heaven is interested in the interview between the one who has been injured and the one who is in error. As the erring one accepts the reproof offered in the love of Christ, and acknowledges his wrong, asking forgiveness from God and from his brother, the sunshine of heaven fills his heart. The controversy is ended; friendship and confidence are restored. The oil of love removes the soreness caused by the wrong; the Spirit of God binds heart to heart; and there is music in heaven over the union brought about” E.G.W. (Gospel Workers, pg. 499)