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Ten Truths About Reconciliation

Lighting Your Way / Lighthouse Baptist
The Truth Network Radio
August 5, 2022 2:31 pm

Ten Truths About Reconciliation

Lighting Your Way / Lighthouse Baptist

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August 5, 2022 2:31 pm

July 24, 2022 – Message from Pastor Josh Bevan

            Main Scripture Passage:  Matthew 5:21-26

Topic: Reconciliation

Series: The Gospel According to Matthew

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Dr. Stephen Davey
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David McGee
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R.C. Sproul
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Lasserre Bradley, Jr.

In your Bibles, if you look with me to Matthew's Gospel chapter number five this morning, when you find your place, if you would stand in honor of God's great word. Verse 21 through 2021 through 25 is our text for today. We've been working through the Gospel of Matthew. The Bible tells us here in this great sermon known as the Sermon on the Mount that our Lord gives. This is really the beginning of his preaching ministry.

He's been in the ministry now for about a year and then he launches into a preaching setting here in chapter five. It says in verse 21, you have heard that it was said by them of old time thou shalt not kill and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother without a call shall be in danger of the judgment. Whosoever shall say to his brother Rocca shall be in danger of the council. Whosoever shall say thou fool shall be in danger of hellfire. Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar and there remember us that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way. First be reconciled to thy brother and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him, lest at any time deliver thee unto the judge and the judge deliver thee to the officer and thou be cast into prison.

Fairly I say unto thee thou shalt by no means come out thence, for thou has paid the uttermost farthing. Father, we thank you for your word today. We ask that it would be impressed upon our hearts. God, we need a stirring of the Holy Spirit of God.

We don't want this to be any normal service. We want it to be a service where God is present in power. And I pray for the revival of your people. Lord, I pray that you would stir us up for God.

Help us to cast our eyes off the Martha busyness things of this world. And may we sit at your feet like Mary and hear your word and receive its truths. And God, we pray that your word would accomplish all that you desire it to accomplish.

Let it be like a fire that consumes us in our hammer that breaks the rock in pieces. And I pray that your kingdom would come through this service and your will done. I pray if anyone today doesn't know Christ, that today would be the day of redemption.

We ask it in Jesus name and God's people said, then you may be seated this morning. In some 20 years of ministry, I have found one of the sweetest things of my life is to be part of the church. The unity that I have found in the ministries has just been so wonderful.

We live in a world that's filled with so much division, so much hate, so much animosity, bitterness and unforgiveness. And then to step inside the church and find people that come literally from every walks of life, from every type of background, cultural setting, demographic. And we find a beautiful unity, the joy of the Lord among people's lives, the love people have one for another, people every week praying for one another, writing letters, bringing gifts and meals and helping people with their yards and just serving each other.

It's just a wonderful thing. Psalms 133 verse 1 says, Behold how good and how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity. Unity can be such a joy, it's a blessing of God and the word unity means the state of being one, the combining or joining of separate entities to form one. It carries the idea of harmony and singleness of mind. The opposite of unity is division.

Division can be defined as the act of splitting into parts, disagreement or strong differences of opinion, which leads to a split in a group. Unity is a very essential thing for a church because a church functions, the Bible teaches, as a body. And just like your body needs to operate in unity or else there's going to be some problems, it's kind of like you ever fall asleep on your arm and you wake up and you think somebody else's arms on top of you and you can't move that thing and you're like, what in the world?

Worse for me is one time I fell asleep when I was younger on both my arms and I was done, man, I didn't know what to do. So, and your arms are always heavier, but you need to be able to have your body work in unity in the same way in the church there has got to be a unity. 1 Corinthians 12 says, for as the body is one, hath many members and all the members of that body being many are one body, so also is Christ. Also unity is essential because the church is a family. I am a part of the Bevan family by blood, but I'm a part of Lighthouse by Christ's blood. This church family that God has brought me into, and let me say this, your church family will surpass your physical family. I will be a part of the body of Christ longer than I am part of the Bevan family.

You understand that? Even your marriages, your spiritual relationship to your spouse will go further than your marital relationship. You will be brothers and sisters in heaven a thousand years from now, but you won't be married. In the same way, I won't be a Bevan a thousand years from now, but I'll be a part of God's church. Amen? And you see how essential that is.

That's a family. Also, unity is vitally important because that's the desire of Christ. Jesus desires unity among his people. Jesus, the day before he died, John 17 records for us a prayer that our Lord gives, and this is one of the most interesting and powerful chapters in all the Bible because the entire chapter is a prayer that Jesus gives.

Jesus made many prayers, but this one is recorded for us in Scripture, and listen to the desire of our Lord in this prayer. He says in verse 11, And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee, Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me. And he says that they may be one as we are. He prays for the unity of the body of believers that they would be united as disciples. John 17 21. He goes on to say that they all may be one as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee that they also may be one in us that the world may believe that thou has sent me and the glory which thou gave us me. I have given them that they may be one even as we are one. I in them and thou in me that they may be made perfect and one.

Are you getting the picture here? This is the desire and heartbeat of our Lord Jesus Christ. And if Jesus specifically prayed for unity five times, how important do you think it was to him in one prayer?

If it's that important to Christ, should it not also be to us? Now our unity reveals that we belong to Jesus Christ. He said in John 13 verse 35, by this shall all men know that you're my disciples.

He said, if you have loved one toward another. We see in the early church in the book of Acts, we see the great unity that the church had. In Acts 2 44, it says, and all that believe were together and had all things common.

Verse 46 goes on to say they continue daily with one accord and it goes on to talk about how they were with singleness of heart. In Acts 4 32 and the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul. Paul admonished the church in Philippi in Philippians chapter 2 verse 2, he says, Fulfill ye my joy that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. And that was his prayer and his desire for the church. Peter said in 1 Peter 3 verse 8, Finally, be all of one mind. We see this continually throughout the New Testament epistles as the authors were writing to the churches to be unified, to have a heart that beat for God and that was unified together in that local church. Now, because unity is something that God produces among the church and it is the desire of God for the church, what you find is Satan attacks that unity. He is the one who desires to rip believers apart. Jesus said in Matthew 12 25. He said, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. And when you divide, you will conquer. Anyone been a part of a church split before?

Anybody been a part of a family split before? And you know how horrible and painful such a thing is. But more often than a church split happens is when people get offended at somebody else and they leave the church. Guess who wins when such a thing happens?

Satan is the victor in such a situation. In the New Testament, there were twenty seven books written. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the four gospel records give us a panorama of the life of Christ. You have the Book of Acts, which is the launch of the church. Then you have the Book of Romans, which is the constitution of Christianity.

Then you go into First Corinthians, which is Paul's first letter to a church directly that he writes to. Listen to how quickly he has to deal with the issue of division by verse number 10 of chapter one. He says, Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you. The word divisions comes from the Greek word schism. It's where we get the word schism from. And he says, but that you would be joined together and in the same mind and in the same judgment. He says in verse 11, For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there be contentions among you. The word contentions means quarrels, debating, striving. And what you find at this church at Corinth was there was so much division going on that that people were taking each other to court.

They were they were suing each other. And Paul rebukes them severely for this. He says in First Corinthians six, Don't you know that one day believers will be the judge of angels? He said, If you'll judge angels in such matters, why can't you even judge the smallest matter? He said, Why don't you why don't you take the least esteemed people in your church and have them judge such situations?

Why would you take church matters and throw that before an unbeliever, unbelievers in law in your in your city? And he rebukes them for this. First Corinthians chapter 11, verse 18. He says, For first of all, when you come together in the church, I hear there be divisions or schisms among you. First Corinthians 12, 25. He continues to have to deal with this issue at the church at Corinth. And the reason that they were so divided is because they were focused on themselves.

They were they were debating over silly things of who baptized them and who was the greatest because of that. Now, how does God feel about this unity in the church? The Bible tells us in Proverbs chapter six, verse 16, These six things that the Lord hate, yea, seven are abomination. He goes down in verse 19 and declares that he that sows discord among the brethren are one of the things that God hates. God hates when people create division among God's people.

That's important to know. Amen. And so here in Matthew five, Jesus highlights just how incredibly important it is for us to remove anger, hate, bitterness, resentment and unresolved conflicts from our lives. Some people have the false idea that they can be right with God and be wrong with their fellow believer.

And that's not the case. Some perhaps here today are at odds with another believer, whether in your home, your family or in the church, you come to sing and give and to serve. And you think you can worship God. You need to understand this message is for you. God has something you need to hear today from his word. And this may be one of the most important sermons for all of us to hear, because I think that most of us don't understand the importance and magnitude of what Jesus is saying in this passage. It's so vital that none of our worship is even acceptable to God. And so we get things right with our fellow of man.

And my prayer today is that God will be so powerful in our hearts that his word would literally rend us on the inside. That if we're at division with another believer, that we could not physically walk out of this building without making sure we're willing to get that right with God. Now, the religious leaders, the scribes and the Pharisees were people in that day that were leading the people, the chief spiritual leaders of that day.

And they looked really good on the outside, but inwardly they were corrupt. And Jesus says in verse 20, if you notice in Matthew five, I say unto you that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus saying unless you have a righteousness that is greater than the scribes and Pharisees, who were the top of the spiritual chain there, if you would, he says you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. In verse 21 and 2, Jesus highlights that the Old Testament law clearly states that you are not to kill. And the idea there is not to murder.

And they only saw this as being external, something that you would do on the outside. But Jesus cuts straight to the heart and says murder is not something simply done externally. It's something that originates inside of a person. And so he tells us in verse 22 that you're worried about if somebody kills someone, they'll be taken to a court of law. He says, listen to me, if you have anger in your heart, according to verse 22, then you will be brought before the judgment. And if you call someone raka, which is a slander against someone's character, it's an Aramaic word, it's a transliteration.

The word raka and Aramaic, that's why they transliterate it, just they spell it out into the English the same way it sounds in Aramaic. But it just means you empty-headed person, you no-good-for-nothing person. And then he says you'll be in danger of the council coming before the Jewish Sanhedrin, where you could be thrown into prison and even put the death penalty upon you.

But if you say thou fool, which is the Greek word moras, we get the English word moron or stupid from that. And he says if you say that, you will be in judgment before God and guilty of such thing that you could be sentenced to hell before God. Like that's how serious. And so what you find is when you have anger on the inside, it always bubbles out and slandering someone or defaming their character by calling them names and assaulting them verbally. And Jesus says when you have anger on the inside, you're guilty like a murderer before God. Is that a big deal? You think that's important to know? Anybody ever been angry and you didn't realize God took it that serious?

Yeah, I think we all have, right? So we need to understand what God has to say about these things because we need to make sure we get things right with God. Now here in verse 21 through 26, our Lord is dealing with how man works through the offenses that he has with his fellow man. If you live on the earth and you're a human being, you're going to have to deal with this probably on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Offending people, them offending you and having to work through that process. That's what Jesus is really dealing with from verse 21 down to verse 26. Now let's look at an overview of the first couple verses here.

Verse 23 and 4, Jesus says if you bring your gift to the altar and you remember that your brother hath ought against you, leave there thy gift before the altar, go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, then come and offer thy gift. You can grow up in America, you can be an atheist and pretty much continue to live in a society that is really fast becoming an atheistic society. A godless society at least. And you can be okay with that, but in the Jewish society that wasn't the case.

Atheists were not part of their culture. Being religious, being a person of faith and worship of God was the very fabric of their society. Everybody held the Jewish feast. Everybody went to the synagogue, went to the temple to offer offerings. The feast days, everybody observed that this was something that everyone's life was involved with. And all the Jews knew that if they sinned they had to bring an offering to God to have that sin appeased and removed. Now the scribes and Pharisees had essentially made religious life external.

It was about what you did on the outside. But our Lord cuts right to the heart of this and shows that it's not simply murder that makes you guilty before God, but anger in your heart and hate in your heart makes you a murderer before God. He goes on to say in the next few verses 27 to 30 that committing adultery alone doesn't just make you an adulterer, but you can have lust in your heart that causes you to be an adulterer before God. That the internal must be dealt with Jesus was saying as well as the outside. So he says, therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar. Now the Jews would bring an offering to the priest in the temple, in the court of the priests, where the priests would receive the animal and offer it to God on behalf of the one who brought the offering. And only the priests could enter the altar area where they would make the sacrifice on behalf of the person. So you would bring a lamb or an animal, lay your hands upon it, your sins would be as though transferred to that animal and that animal would be sacrificed on your behalf. That was an Old Testament picture designed to show Jesus Christ to be the lamb of God who would come and take our sins away. He would die on our behalf. Now the main time of year that sacrifices were brought were during what was known as Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement.

This was the most holy day for the Jewish people. And this is most likely what Jesus is referring to. He says in that moment when you bring that offering, He says, and in that solemn time if you remember that your brother has something or ought against you, He's saying in that setting if you remember that, hey, my brother so and so has been offended by me in some way, the word ought against you means they're offended at you, they feel that you've wronged them in some way. And so the Lord is saying at that very most intimate time of worshiping, as you're bringing your gift to God, that you remember I know that that person is upset with me, Jesus says leave there thy gift before the altar.

Literally stop your offering. Don't make the sacrifice to God. Worship ends now. Don't go any further with your worship to God. You must go and deal with that situation with that person. And so He says, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother. The word first there, that's the priority.

Nothing is to usurp this. Reconciliation with your fellow individual, your fellow human there is a top priority. I think this is so incredible that at the moment of such a solemn time of worship, God says stop, don't give that to me.

We would naturally have said, you know what, I'm convicted about this. I need to go get this right with this person after church today. I'm going to seek to reconcile with them right after the service. God says don't wait that long. That's too long. You must do it now. You must get it done.

Don't have any delay. This is the priority that our Lord is placing on reconciliation. That's how big of a deal it is to the one who we call Jesus our Lord. Now what does the word reconcile mean? It means to change one's feelings toward another and so to be reconciled. It means to be restored to a normal relationship, to restore harmony with someone.

It means that you settle the difficulty. If you've wronged them, you make restitution. If you owe them a debt, you pay it. If you've injured their character or gossip or slandered, you confess that and seek forgiveness.

If you've falsely been suspected of injuring them, then you make an explanation. The idea is that you do everything possible to bring reconciliation and restore harmony. He says after you've done all of that, he says then come and offer thy gift. Only when reconciliation has been exhausted do you come and offer your gift to God. Let me ask you, when is the last time that you realized that anger, hate toward others, or something you did that made someone else upset with you totally disrupt your ability to worship God?

When's the last time that you considered that? When is the last time you realized your offenses against others or their perceived being offended can keep you from being a worshiper of God? An offense against your brother, friends, will build a wall between you and God. Someone may say, well, who is my brother, preacher?

I know so-and-so is upset with me, but they're not my brother. That's no different than when Jesus said love your neighbor as yourself and the lawyer wanting to justify himself in Luke 10 29 says, and who is my neighbor? And Jesus goes on and tells the story of the Good Samaritan, and he's telling him it's not the person that lives next door to you, it's the person that lives in this world. Anybody you come across is your neighbor.

So the brother here is a Greek word, Adelphos, which means to be born of the same womb, but Jesus goes past that and gives the general context of your brothers, which we are all born of Adam, and we're descendants of him, and it's your fellow man. And so the idea is anybody that is your fellow human being, somebody of your own nature, a human being that you offend, that you must seek that reconciliation. So let me give you 10 truths about reconciliation. You say you have 10 points, yes, and don't lose your minds, yeah, we'll get through this. I did it once today, we'll do it again.

If you're a visitor, you don't know what I'm talking about, but you'll learn, yeah, you'll learn. All my sermons are really short, you know, this one might go a couple minutes over. 10 truths about reconciliation, such an important thing I think that will benefit all of us. First of all, sin is what produces the need for reconciliation. It is sin that produces this need.

If you're a human being, you will get offended by people, and you will offend people. The reason for this is because sin is what produces the offense. Either the sin I produced, or the sin they produced, or the perceived sin. And because we all sin, listen, our entire life, we'll be involved with working through reconciliation.

Forgiving people, needing to be forgiven, this never stops. If you're married, you know this. Amen?

And if you've never told your spouse, I'm sorry, you need to get on your knees and say, God forgive me for my pride. Amen? So, sin causes division. We see this in the garden in Genesis chapter 3, when Adam and Eve sinned, they were separated from God. And Cain and Abel, sin is what caused them to be divided. And Cain rose up and killed his brother in the church.

Division is always a result of sin. You need to understand that Christ sought reconciliation to the point that he was willing to give his own life to heal the division. The Bible says in Romans 5-10, for if when we were enemies, we were enemies with God. It says we were reconciled to God by the death of his son. Jesus Christ died to bring us to God. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3-18, for Christ hath also suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.

Ephesians 2-13, but now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. And he is our peace who has broken down the middle wall of partition between us. Christ is the one who heals our relationship to God. Now if it costs Jesus his life to bring our unity between the sinner and God, how amazing it is that Christians, that we can take so lightly the unity of the Christian body. God hates people sowing discord according to Proverbs 6. Jesus over and over five times specifically prayed for the unity among the believers. The New Testament apostles pleaded for the unity in those local churches. God's word over and over warns against being divisive.

I would ask the question, will you then take lightly the things that God is calling us to have? Will you so quickly speak evil of another brother or sister in Christ? And so sin is what produces the need of reconciliation. Secondly, an external worshiper of God can have internal issues with others.

You and I could come to church and we could look great on the outside and we could look like we're really honoring God with our life and worshipping him and none of it could be acceptable to God because we have problems with others on the inside. In Matthew 5 our Lord shows us just because you bring a gift to worship God. I mean these were worshippers. These were people bringing offerings to God, worshipping God, making sacrifice to God and he's saying their worship is unacceptable because there's unmet reconciliation. There's unheeded obedience to God in this area.

So just because you're faithful on the outside doesn't mean your heart's clean. Jesus had just discussed anger and hate that equals murder. The point our Lord is making is the inside of a man's heart has to be right for those external services to be acceptable to God. David understood this in the Old Testament.

When David had sinned with Bathsheba, the Bible tells us that he came to God in prayer in Psalms 51 which is a Psalm reflecting on that. And David said, for thou desireth not sacrifice, else would I give it. Thou delightest not in burnt offerings and God had called him to make sacrifices for the sins but he says it's not just the external sacrifice God's looking for. Verse 17 he said the sacrifices of God are a what?

What's he say there church? A broken spirit and a broken and a contrite heart. Oh God that will not despise. You know an atheist could bring in a sacrifice to give to God but an atheist is not going to be broken over their sin. That will make you a believer, right?

So you have to get right. And you know the people who are broken over their sin? It's people who see their sin as God sees it. They see the wretchedness of their sin and they're grieved over it because they see what they've done against God.

Let me ask you this question. Are you more grieved over your sin or are you more grieved over the sins of others that they've offended you with? What offends you more? Your sin that you've committed against God or the offenses that other people have made against you? I can tell you Paul understood that in himself he called himself in Romans 7 24 he said, Oh wretched man that I am. He called himself at the end of his life in 1 Timothy 1 15 the chief of sinners. And if we would look at ourself as the chief of sinners I can tell you we would be a lot more gracious and merciful to the sins of others. Love covers a multitude of sins, but you know the person who never looks at their own sin first will always look at the other person's sins and magnify them. How dare they say that?

How dare they do that? They'll be condemning of other people and Jesus says, Why don't you turn in the mirror and look at your own life first? External worshipers can have great internal issues with others.

The internal must be dealt with friends. Thirdly, Jesus taught that reconciliation with man must proceed true worship with God. Again, it's amazing to me that Jesus steps into the most special sacred time of worship for the Jewish people.

The most holy day of the year, bringing an offering, seeking your sins to be cleansed, honoring God with your sacrifice. You're coming to worship God and God says, If they're in that moment that you remember, who would cause you to remember that you have someone who is a problem with you? Would it be the devil?

Would it be yourself? No, it would be the Holy Spirit of God, I believe, that would bring those things to your mind. As you're coming, seeking to get right with God, God brings to your mind that first before you can get right with me, you have to get right with them.

Does that make sense? So we understand that the one who brings these things, if you're sitting in the service today and something is brought to your mind and you're convicted about it, you know what, I need to seek reconciliation in that situation. That's God doing that. That's the Holy Spirit saying, listen to me, John 16, 8 through 11. It's the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment that come. And so he says you're to leave your gift at the altar, push pause on your offering and go and seek to heal the breach between you and your brother.

I like what one commentator says. He says, As far as I know, this is the only time God tells you to slip out of church early. Apparently he he would rather have you give your olive branch than your tithe. If if you are worshipping and remember that your mom is upset with you for forgetting her birthday, then get off the pew and find a phone. Maybe she'll forgive you. Maybe she won't. But at least you can return to your pew with a clean conscience.

Let me ask you a question. What did Jesus said as a first and highest priority, bringing an offering of worship to God or being obedient and seeking reconciliation with man? The Bible teaches a basic principle that obedience to God is what will produce true and genuine worship. We see this in the life of Saul in the Old Testament. You remember when Saul killed the Amalekites and God says, I want you to totally wipe them out. Don't keep any offerings or anything.

Kill all the animals. And instead, King Saul kept the best of the offerings, best of the animals. And he came and acted, though he was going to give those to God and sacrifice in First Samuel 15, 22. Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in bird offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken in the fat of rams.

God desires our obedience. Saul offered God disobedient worship, and I just wonder how many Christians can come today and offer disobedient worship to God. And God says it's unacceptable because you have a problem with that person that you've been unwilling to reconcile, unwilling to seek forgiveness, unwilling to give forgiveness. And there can be no genuine acceptance of worship to God because it's unacceptable worship. It's disobedient worship.

God is more concerned about our heart worship than our hand worship friends. Number four, unwillingness to reconcile makes us unfit to worship. If we wait to worship until we have sought to reconcile the breach in the relationship, if we are unwilling to seek that reconciliation, God will not accept the worship. What happens to a church that is filled with people that are divisive? What happens to a church that's filled with people that are bitter and angry and hateful toward one another?

There's no way that could be a God honoring church. What should you do if you have hate, anger, bitterness towards someone and you come to worship the Lord? Well, Christ is very clear. You must stop where you're going, stop what you're doing and get it right with the person. Psalm 66 18 says, If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.

The Lord will not hear me. In junior high, I was on a four by one track team and I remember running and we were so close to beating the record like every track meet and our track team was great. We went like 48. No, we never got beat. We had a great team and we were we were in this in one of the last races.

And I remember we broke the we broke the record. We were so excited and they went back and somebody called a fault on me when I passed the baton to the next guy. They said I stepped on the line and I still don't believe it. I think they were wrong, but I just they said your toe was on the line and they disqualified. I thought, what's a big deal?

It's just a toe, you know. And but what what happened was we were disqualified because we went out of the boundary of what they they called acceptable. When you compete in something, there are rules to those competitions.

And once you once you violate those rules, then you can be disqualified. In the same way, friends, when we are unreconciled with other people, we disqualify ourselves from being acceptable in our worship to God. That's a big deal.

We must understand the magnitude of this. Number five, reconciliation is what will enhance true worship. You know, worship is not enhanced by decorations or lighting. Jesus doesn't even say music or preaching enhances the worship. But what he does say is if you want enhanced worship, then reconcile with your fellow brother or sister in Christ.

I like what John MacArthur says. Worship may be improved by our staying away from church until we have made things right with those with whom we know our relationship is strained or broken. When there is animosity or sin of any sort in our heart, there cannot be integrity in our worship. In other words, if you are at odds with another believer and are unwilling to seek reconciliation, if you say I'm going to hold on to my anger, I'm going to hold on to my bitterness, I'm not going to reconcile with them, it's better for you to stay home.

Don't come back here. Do you hear me? Do you hear your preacher? Until you go and get that right or seek to get it right, do not bring bitterness and anger and hatred. And I don't know anyone in the church like this right now. I'm not preaching to anybody, but if you have that in your heart, you say, preacher, are you telling me to stay home? I would not want you to come with bitterness, anger, resentment and a life that is out of line with God, willingly, knowingly doing that and bringing that sin into the church.

Yes, stay home until you get that right with that person. It's exactly what Christ is telling us. Stop the offering. Don't leave the temple. Go away, get out of here and go get that fixed is what Jesus is saying. We say, oh, that sounds offensive. It needs to be offensive because when we're offensive to God, we need to realize we need to be offended with ourself. Well, I'll just stay home if the preacher wants me to stay home.

You'll probably turn on Joel Osteen and feel better about yourself, but that's not the answer either. This is a big deal, friends. This is a big deal to say, you know what? I can't hold on to my bitterness because God calls me out of this.

Calls me away from such things. Number six, earthly reconciliation must be motivated by God rather than man. The reason we can struggle to reconcile with others is we make man our motive instead of making God our motive. This is one of the most important truths we need to hear today.

If man is our motive for reconciliation, then our decision to seek reconciliation will be based on man. We'll say things like this, well, I'm not going to talk to them, seek to work this out. They're so irritating, they're so annoying, they're so prideful, they're so insensitive. It doesn't matter what I say, they get all up in arms.

They, they, they, they. How do you know if you've made man your motive? Well, simply asking, am I willing to seek out reconciliation? And if I'm not, why am I not willing?

And usually it's because I don't like the other person. And if that's the case, that's sinful. That's making man our motive. But if God is our motive, we will base the decision to reconcile not on the goodness of the person, but on the goodness of God. We will say, I must seek reconciliation with them because this is what God has called me to. I must seek reconciliation because if God has forgiven me of such a load of sin, how could I not seek forgiveness and hold sin against them in such a way? How can I be so hard on their sin when God has been so gracious to mine?

When I consider the infinite love that Christ had for me that caused him to come and die for my sins. It was in 1994 that a man named Alvin Strait was at odds with his older brother Lyle. They were without talking to one another for around 10 years. They were both in their 70s. Alvin learned that his brother Lyle had a stroke. Alvin lived in Lawrence, Iowa, about 300 miles from Mount Zion, Wisconsin, where his brother lived.

The problem was he didn't have a driver's license and he despised going on a bus, so he had no good way to be transported there. And so he felt in his heart, I cannot handle this bitterness, this anger, this resentment anymore. It's a true story. And so Alvin got on his lawnmower and traveled 300 miles because he could not handle the bitterness anymore. He said, I just want to sit under the stars and look up like we used to as boys and get along again. You can watch that movie. Disney actually produced a movie back when they would make decent movies.

It's called The Straight Story. And so, beloved, how far would you be willing to travel to reconcile with someone? I think about the Lord Jesus Christ, how he suffered and he died for our sins. And what's so incredible to me is that we were the offenders. We were the ones who sinned against God. Our sin created the division. We come here and sing, oh, how I love Jesus, yet we won't walk across the sanctuary to love our brother or sister in Christ. We won't walk across the town or drive across the town or across the room and seek reconciliation. If you have an unreconciled relationship, an unresolved conflict, what would keep you from seeking reconciliation? Pride, stubbornness, unforgiveness, deep seated bitterness. We need to cast our eyes on the Savior today.

Be motivated by heaven rather than Earth. Look upon Christ and say, he's worth my obedience. He's worth me forgiving them. He's worth me being gracious to that person for. Stop looking at the offender and start looking at the one who you offended and who forgave you and I.

Number seven, reconciliation must be sought even if you do not know what your offense was, only that you know they are offended at you. You know, some people live offended. You probably know people like that. I've known people like that. They're always upset.

They're like, you know, you're breathing in my presence. I'm sorry. You're standing too close. You're too far away. What's the problem? You know, I mean, just you parked in my spot.

I didn't know you had a spot. And so there's somebody that's always, they're always critical of others, always gossiping, always angry. Such a person reflects really an unsafe condition. But sometimes you can have someone offended at you and you don't even know what you've done. I'm sure there's many people, if I asked you to raise hands, that you would raise your hand and say, I've offended people and I didn't even know I offended them. If you're married, this has happened to you. I didn't even know I offended her. I was watching the game.

It was her anniversary. How would I have known? You say, I don't have anything in my heart against that person. I'm not offended against them. So why do I need to seek reconciliation?

My heart's clean. The Bible doesn't say if you have something in your heart towards somebody. The Bible says if you know that they have something in their heart toward you.

Obviously, you need to go to them if you have a problem with them. According to Matthew 18, it says if you have a problem with your brother, you need to go to them. But here it's saying if you know they have a problem with you, they have an ought against you. They are offended at you.

And you need to understand this. When somebody's offended at you and you don't know why they're upset, you don't know what you've done, this is an act of you ministering to the person. This is the way you minister sometimes to a weaker brother. Reconciliation is not simply for us.

It's for them. They need their heart clean to worship God as well. God is calling me to help that process. The goal of evangelism is to turn a life of someone who's away from God, who's a non-worshiper, into a worshiper of God, right? Evangelism is. You bring them the gospel, they come to Christ. And the same thing's true in reconciling with our brothers in Christ.

That your goal is to take someone who's a non-worshiper now because of the bitterness and to allow that to be healed and restored so that they can be a worshiper. Now, a wrong response to such a situation is to say something like this. Well, that's just their problem. I don't know why they're upset with me.

They haven't done anything. They're just going to have to deal with it. We've probably all said something like that in our life, and that's a wrong way to respond. It's a sinful way to respond.

How can we say we love the lost and care for their souls when we have such a little love and care for our fellow believers? Also, when you go to them, do not be defensive. If they say, you know what, Josh? You said this the other day, and it really offended me. Don't look at them and say, how dare you say that to me? I didn't say that. I didn't mean that.

You got the problem. And when I become like that, if I were to do that, that doesn't show a humble spirit. That doesn't show a heart that seeks to reconcile. That shows a prideful heart that's defending me. I'm not seeking to honor God. I'm seeking to defend myself. Don't come and be defensive. Listen to me. When somebody's offended at you, there's anger, pain. We've all dealt with it in our own heart as well. They need to get that out.

You need to give them room to get it out. So come with questions. Friend, is there something I've done to offend you? No. Now listen, I know there's something there.

I don't want there to be any division. I don't want to disrupt your worship or my worship before God, and I want to honor God with our life. What's going on in your heart that's really causing the problem? And when they start saying some things, and some things may be legitimate, and some things may be off the wall, what in the world are you even talking about? And what you do, you don't stop them. You let them speak.

You let them get it all out, and you continue with questions. Is there anything else? Share with me anything else. Is there anything else I said or did? I want to make sure that I heard you out. I want to hear what you're saying.

And then repeat back to them. So what you're saying is the other day when I was doing this, and I said this, or I did that, and if there is an offense in that moment, then say, you know what, what I said or did, I'm wrong. I need you to forgive me. Will you forgive me?

Will you forgive me? And what you're doing in that moment, you're showing them how reconciliation works. You know what, it's one thing for me to preach on reconciliation. It's another thing to live it. Which one do you think is more effective, right? And so we need to practice this.

We need to do this. And so if they're offended at something, you're like, man, that's not what I did, or that's not what I said, or that's not at least how I meant it. Then explain the situation and say that'll help me in the future to not do that anymore, and I'm sorry if that came across that way.

That wasn't my intention. And so seek to heal that as much as possible. Now let me speak to those who perhaps get offended or are offended today. Ask yourself this question.

Maybe you're dealing with an offense. You've been sitting on it for a while, and you're like, somebody told the pastor because how else would he know to preach on this today? Well, that's a good thing with expository preaching.

I just keep going through the text. And God brought you here so you could hear the word of God, amen? God is so loving to you.

He loves you so much that not only does He want you to know the gospel to bring your relationship and salvation to Him, but He loves you enough and me enough to bring truth to us that convict us so heavily because He says I want to rid our life of sin so that we could walk in sweet communion with our Creator. Ask yourself this if you're offended with somebody. Am I offended because God was dishonored? Is my offense toward that person because God was dishonored? Or am I offended because they hurt my feelings or did something to upset me?

What's the reason of my offense? I've known people who can be extremely sensitive, which is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Getting easily offended is what immature people do. I mean, what do little children do? They get offended all the time.

You know, a two- and a three-year-old. You take their toy, they go crazy. They're not like, you know what, you took my toy. It must have been a misunderstanding. I mean, that was my toy.

That was my Tonka truck. I mean, I'll give you five minutes and then we'll have to work. You know, you need to give it back to me.

They don't do that. They go over and smack you upside the head, rip the toy from you and punch you on the way while they're walking away, amen? The same thing I did when I was two or three years old. You know what we do when we get old?

We make toddlers if we don't grow up. We cry and we act out and we act like little children, screaming and crying and angry and bitter and slamming things and throwing stuff and cussing and swearing and acting so sinful. And this is an immature expression of our sin.

And so let me ask the question, how can those who've denied themselves, been crucified with Christ, died to themself according to Scripture, following Jesus, be so quick to be offended when they are somehow spoken against? Do you constantly play the victim card? I've known people who are always wanting to be the victims.

They always feel like the world's against them. When I worked in a recovery ministry, that was one of the biggest things guys in recovery who stayed sober would tell me. They'd say, what I learned was I wasn't the victim. I'm the criminal. It wasn't everything in the world against me. It wasn't my dad's fault, my mom's fault, society's fault and everybody else's fault and I needed to just love myself more. That wasn't the answer.

The answer was I sinned against God, I violated his laws, I've offended my parents. And you know what they do in a lot of those programs? They do amends. They go to people and say, hey, if I've wronged you, I'm sorry, and is there any way I can make that up? And they go to person after person after person after person after person. There's people in our church that have gone to 15, 20 and 30 people in their life that they've known they've offended. And the healing that that does for that person, it's incredible.

And it changes things because they're seeking out, they literally are doing what Jesus told them to do. If you've offended someone, go to them. Don't be the victim.

Stop playing that card. Easy offenses are a sign of self-love. You declare in your heart, how dare you do that to me? First, is that how God wants us to respond? Does God want us to be easily offended? You know, the Bible says in Proverbs 19, 11, the discretion of man defereth his anger and it is his glory to pass over transgression. God calls it the crowning glory of a man to be willing to forgive others. It says in 1 Peter 4.8 that charity or love covers a multitude of sins. Do you and I, do we realize how much sin God has covered in our lives? Are we so quick to unleash wrath on others for every little offense? Learn to treat other people like you want God to treat you.

Think about it today. Do I want God to treat my sins like I am treating the offenses of others? Do I want God to jump on me and really pour it out, wrath and anger and vengeance and bitterness and hate toward me?

Or do I want to be gracious to other people, forgiving of other people, merciful and kind to other people? How am I going to respond? There are legitimate reasons to be offended. Now, just so you understand, there are reasons that you and I can get offended. When God is dishonored, we should be offended. It should bother us when God's assault. Did Jesus get offended when God was offended?

Yes, he made a court of whips and drove him out of the temple, right? When innocent people are hurt by different people's words and works, when you see someone being picked on, somebody being treated cruelly, you need to address that. You need to defend innocent life. You need to defend people. When innocent people are hurt, that should be offensive to us. When someone has legitimately hurt you or wronged you in some way, that can happen.

So what do we do? Well, Matthew 18, 15 says this, Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, he says, go and tell him his fault between thee and him. What's the next word, church?

What's that word again? So I want you to understand this. If somebody offends you, then he's back for round two. He was in the early service. So if I got offended with Danny and he did something wrong to me and just really hurt my feelings and just, you know, and I got upset and I was like, you know, I'm so upset with Danny and I come over here to John and I'm like, John, I can't believe you. You know Danny, you know, and I started getting upset with Danny and I start telling John over here, John would probably tell me, suck it up and go deal with, you know, he's a military man. So well, once if Danny sinned against me, legitimately sin against me, once I begin to tell someone else and I don't go to Danny, what I've done is committed a sin.

Now I become the sinner. Does that make sense? So if John is a loving guy, what John would do is just what I said. He would say, why are you telling me this? Have you talked to them?

You need to go to them. Don't tell me anymore. You know why? Because I love Jesus Christ. I know Jesus prayed five times for the unity of the brethren in one prayer. I know God hates division. He hates when believers cause discord among brethren. I know Satan would love to cause division and rip believers apart.

You need to go to them. And so the way that God would call me to that I would need to go to Dan and sit down and say, Dan, you know, what you did was wrong. You rooted against my Ohio State team and it's just a sinful thing. And so and then he would say, Josh, share with me on your heart. Is there anything else I've done?

I say, you know, you and then you wore that Michigan shirt and you know, you did this and that. Then he would sit down and say, you know what? You just need to grow up. So then maybe he convert me over.

No, no. But but me and Dan are great friends. So you're like, what do you guys have a problem?

No, we don't have a problem. So but but the idea of the Bible is very clear on this, that if you have a fence with somebody that you need to go to them alone. Well, what if they won't hear me? The Bible tells you, then you need to take another stronger believer with you.

Then you say, hey, you would go to a stronger believer and say, hey, can you come with me? And we need I really I want this thing reconciled. I don't want there to be animosity.

I don't want there to be division. And so you, too, would go sit down with that person and you would try to reconcile that as much as possible. And if they're unwilling, then you bring a church leader. Then you go to the pastor, you go to assistant pastor, you take a spiritual leader of the church and then you would go deal with that. And if they're not willing to reconcile, the Bible teaches that you're to treat that person like an unbeliever.

You're to see them. If somebody is unwilling to reconcile, it shows an unregenerate heart. It shows a person that now needs the gospel. They now need to be saved. They're evidencing they're an unbeliever, according to Matthew 18.

And so number eight, just three more things will be done. You cannot guarantee reconciliation with man, but you can seek it. Sometimes people say, well, what if they won't listen to me? If I try to talk to them and they won't listen. Well, it's not up to you whether they can listen or not. It's just up to you to go and try and seek it as much as is possible. And so the same is true of evangelism. Sometimes people won't listen, but it doesn't cause us to not be willing to go and share with them.

Obedience to God is the goal. Some people have told me before, well, reconciliation is not possible. Legally, I'm not even allowed to be around them or even communicate to them anyway. The Bible tells us in Romans 12, 18, if it be possible, notice the phrase, if it be possible, as much as life in you live peaceably with all men. Sometimes it's not possible. Sometimes peaceableness isn't able to come about, but if it's possible.

So if legally you're not allowed to be around each other, communicate with each other, then obviously you can't do that. And you just committed to God and you say, God, cleanse my heart and I pray that their heart would also be cleansed. You say, but they've offended me so severely. You don't know what they've done to me. I would ask you, do you remember what you've done to Christ? Do we so quickly forget our offenses that caused him to die? I'll never forget a dear lady in our church came to me years ago and she said, pastor, I want to share with you something that years ago, she said, I was married and five years into our marriage, we were so in love and a man broke into our house and shot my husband in the chest. And the man fled and I put my hand on the wound and tried to stop the bleeding and it wouldn't be stopped and my husband passed away and the man's in jail in prison. She shared with me how it just really destroyed her heart and life in so many ways and she knew she needed to forgive the man. Though the man never sought forgiveness, she knew she needed to let it go. So she wrote a letter and was going to put it in the mail to send to the prison and she said for weeks and even months she went out to the mailbox, put in the letter in the mailbox and she said she'd go back and take it out. She just couldn't put it in the mailbox. It was just too hard. She said until one day I finally made up my mind, I put it in the mailbox.

She said when I walked back to the house, she said, I remember the mailman picking that letter up and she said, I still remember him going over the hill and as he drove over the hill, I could literally feel the weight of bitterness removed from my life. And what did they do to you? What did they say to you that you're so offended by? How bad were you hurt?

Sometimes our offenses are embarrassing. Sometimes the things that we hold onto, I think when we get to heaven, God's going to say, you were willing to love your hate and anger so much instead of loving me. You were willing to be offended over things that were so minuscule. Don't you know, friends, that sometimes God allows us to be offended on purpose so that we could show that we love him by being willing to forgive? Do you know that God allows us to be offended by people just to test our faith? Do you realize that God will allow that misunderstanding just to say, I'm going to see how Josh is going to respond to this one? I'm going to see if he really loves me.

I'm going to see if he's going to really obey me. Is he going to love me more or is he going to love himself so much that he won't forgive and won't see reconciliation? Do you understand God allows trials in our life not to hurt us, but to reveal us, to expose us and to grow us? Number nine, delayed reconciliation allows sin and consequences to increase. The longer the fire of anger, hate, division is not quenched by the water of loving God and seeking reconciliation, the more damage that fire does. Matthew 5, 25, notice what Jesus says here, because verse 25 and 6 are basically a commentary on verse 23 and 4.

Jesus says, agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with them. Lest that any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, the judge deliver thee to the officer and thou be cast into prison, verily I say to thee that thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. Here, Jesus gives the illustration of someone who owes someone a financial debt. And in those days, if you couldn't pay the debt, they would put you in a debtor's prison. Remember in Matthew 18, when the man could not repay the king, the king was going to throw him in prison with his family until he paid the debt.

And so you would have to pay. And Jesus saying, hey, if you know you owe somebody something, he says, pay it as soon as possible. So literally in the Jewish system of jurisprudence, you could be heading to the court. And if that man or person that you're owing debt to, if you could pay them before you arrived at the judge, then the whole thing would be squashed. He says, but if you don't get that thing reconciled, you'll go before a judge.

The judge will hand you to an officer and you'll be committed to prison till you pay the uttermost farthing. And the point that Jesus is making is just as you would not want to owe a debt that you would let linger that would put you in prison and in judgment. Don't hold on to sins that will cause you to be guilty before God. If you would seek reconciliation to avoid human judgment, how much more should you seek reconciliation to avoid God's judgment?

That's what he's telling us here. And so delayed reconciliation allows sin and consequences to just continue to increase. And then number 10, sin keeps people from reconciling. Sin is what keeps us from reconciling. Ask yourself, if I'm unwilling to reconcile, is it because I love God so much? Am I willing to seek reconciliation because I love the other person so much? Or is it because I love myself so much?

Pride and self-love keep people divided. David McCasland, who was a writer for The Daily Bread, Our Daily Bread, said this. I was studying the Old Testament law about making restitution for theft and property loss. I began to wonder how it applied to me. Immediately the words, Bill's pump, came to mind. He remembered. Months before, he said, I had borrowed my neighbor's pump to inflate a bicycle tire.

It broke while I was using it, but I'm ashamed to admit that I returned it without saying anything to him. It was obvious that God wanted me to confess my wrong to Bill and buy him a new pump. My rationalizations were swift.

It was old. It was going to break anyway. It was embarrassing to reveal my failure and show that I was a weak Christian. My excuses sounded hollow. I knew the Lord wanted me to make it right. So I bought Bill a new pump, went over to his house, but he was out of town. At church the next morning, I started to drop my offering in the plate and remembered, first be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift. The money went back in my pocket. When Bill returned, I told him what I'd done and apologized and gave him the new pump.

He graciously understood. It cost me $7.23 plus pride. He set a small price to pay to restore a relationship with a neighbor and have a clear conscience before God. What a good example for us as we examine our hearts today, friends. Are you offended at someone?

Are you willing to hold on to that? Are you treating other people in the same way God has treated you and I? Think about Zacchaeus. Do you remember when Zacchaeus became a believer? Zacchaeus says, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, he said, if I've taken anything from any man by false accusation, he said, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus says, this day is salvation.

Come to your house. Those who are saved seek reconciliation. That's a reflection of a believer. So in closing, if you want to have a righteousness that's deeper than the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees, we must put on humility and seek reconciliation. What offenses would be so great that you and I would be unwilling to reconcile? Would you be willing to disrupt your worship with God because of a disrupted relationship with man? What value do you place upon the worship of God?

Don't place more value on your anger than you do value of your worship. Some today need to make a phone call. Some today maybe need to drive over to that person's house and say, hey, I just need to talk to you today. I can't let this linger anymore.

I need to get this right. Some of you today need to tell your husband or your wife, you know what? I've been holding on to something and I need to forgive you. I got to let this go. I can't have this bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness and hate in my heart. Some of you children need to get right with your parents and say, Mom, Dad, I'm sorry. I've been upset with you, resentful. I need to ask your forgiveness. Some parents need to ask forgiveness of their kids.

Today needs to be a day of reconciliation, friends. Examine your life. As I can tell you this morning, the Lord already knows some of us have come to worship and perhaps God received all of it. And some of us have come to worship and perhaps there was none received by God.

Reconcile with your fellow man. Love God enough. Love him more than our hate and our anger for the person's sins. Let's all stand this morning with heads bowed, eyes closed. The altar is open. If God's word has spoken to your heart, you're welcome to come.

Maybe you need to spend a moment in prayer for whatever reason, whatever God's touched your heart about. I would ask if you're here today and you stood before God and he said, why should I let you into heaven? If God said, why should I let you into the kingdom? If you're not sure what you would say, I'll be in the front. I would invite you to come. I would invite you to come and get. I'll be down front.

We have men and women down front. They'll pull you aside in the private room and show you from the word of God how you can know when your life's over. You'll be in heaven. If you need to make a spiritual decision, I encourage you to come.

I understand sometimes offenses can be deep sometimes, and the longer we hold them, the deeper they grow. Today is a day of casting them away, setting ourselves free. Father, we thank you for your word today.

Thank you that it cuts deep because we need to have the infections of our lives removed. Fill us with your Holy Spirit. God, I praise you for the unity and the beauty of that throughout this church and how you've worked. And God, I pray that no division, not even in one heart from young to old, would ever fester. That you would cleanse us from within, that we would come and worship you in sincerity and in truth. God, I pray that you would allow us to be a clean people, a loving people, a humble people. And when we offend others or when others offend us, we would seek reconciliation. The moment we stop reconciling is the moment we stop worshipping. Give us this burden, God, for our life will be a life of reconciling with others. In Jesus' name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-27 04:01:26 / 2023-02-27 04:28:00 / 27

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