Restoring Broken Relationships
Relationships 101 – Text Matthew 5:38-41
Late one summer evening, 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 motorcyclists- 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.
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 don’t know about that, but he sure ain’t 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 we have an obligation to every person, not just to the people who are nice.
We will look at today a passage where Jesus instructs his disciples on how to heal a broken relationship God’s way.
Our world is littered with broken relationships. We have them in our families between husbands and wives, parents and children.
We 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 breach, to rebuild the bridge, to restore the relationship? I believe God gives us a vital key to restore relationships. We don’t talk about it much, but the Bible does.
It is the key to 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? -
A. Unkind Words spoken -
B. Wounding Actions -
C. Misunderstanding -
D. Good Things undone
What are Biblical ways to restore broken relationships?
1. Possess A Spirit of Humility - Matthew 5:38-41 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
Relationships are like bridges in that they have to be built intentionally. They carry a lot of weight. A relationship can break down from neglect, conflict, or misunderstanding. However, a way to repair the breach, to rebuild the bridge, to restore the relationship. The Bible tells us that the secret to great relationships is humility.
1 Peter 5:5 says, “ Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
You will not be able to repair any relationships until you’ve learned the quality of humility. The cross shows us that you are infinitely valuable but we are also deeply flawed.
Humility is keeping those two things in balance. Humility is having a realistic evaluation of yourself. It does not mean denying your strengths, but rather it’s being honest about your weaknesses.
Humility, essentially, is loving God and loving other people, thinking about God and thinking about other people more than yourself.
One of the reasons why so many relationships fall apart is because, frankly, many people are unwilling to do the serious difficult work that humility requires.
a. Ask for God’s help.-- James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. If God opposes the proud, I don’t want to be on the opposite side of God.
What is humility? Humility is the power to change. Humility is the power to heal a relationship. Humility is the power to get forgiveness and to offer forgiveness. Humility is the power to restore what you thought was dead.
b. Acknowledge your responsibility and sin. -- Galatians 6:5 says, “5 For each one shall bear his own load. You cannot build a strong, healthy relationship without accepting responsibility for your part of it. A relationship takes two people.
As long as you are pushing the blame, you cannot fix the relationship. If you want God’s blessing on your relationship, you have to stop the blame game.
This is the step that breaks the gridlock, which gets the relationship moving again and it takes humility to do it. If you can’t get past this step, saying those three important words “I was wrong”, “I am sorry”, “Please forgive me”… If your throat chokes on those words, you will never have mature relationships.
c. Allow them to be human. We don’t want to let other people be human. We want to hold them to a standard that we, even ourselves, can’t meet. We expect more of them than we would even of ourselves.
d. Humility recognizes that no one is perfect. Colossians 3:13 says, “ bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
2. Possess a Spirit of Reconciliation – Matthew 18:15-18 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
Relationships are always worth restoring. God has given us the ministry of restoring relationships through the spirit of reconciliation. In the book of Matthew, it shares with us the second stet I want to share with you in repairing broken relationships and that is to go to the person of the broken relationship.
Communicate, talk it out, discuss, and repair. Often, much of the relationship troubles come from a simple misunderstanding.
a. Always take the initiative. - 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.— Matthew 5:23-24
b. Attack the problem, not the person.
c. Cooperate as much as possible.
d. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution.
3. Possess A Spirit of Forgiveness -
Pastor Hayes a man in his middle forties, was well-loved by his congregation and faithful to God and to his family. He enjoyed a successful ministry in an exuberantly vital, growing church. Just when everything seemed to be going well, a cloud came over this man and his ministry.
Rumors circulated through the church that Pastor Hayes was guilty of moral misconduct.
He had been seen at the home of Miss Morrow, a school teacher, just a few weeks before she resigned for "personal reasons" and moved to another city. Apparently someone in the church put two and two together and came up with five.
Pastor Hayes was innocent, but the stain of the alleged scandal could not be erased. The rumors followed Pastor Hayes for years, seriously hampering his effectiveness as a pastor.
It was difficult for him to endure the rejection, mistreatment, and misunderstanding caused by false rumors. But it was even more difficult for him to witness the toll of these events on his wife and on his teenaged son.
It was ten years later-after his son graduated from college-that Pastor Hayes learned how the hurtful rumors began. One night a man the pastor had not seen for years appeared at his door. "Brother McLean!" said Pastor Hayes in surprise. "I haven’t seen you in..."
"Eight years," McLean supplied. "It’s been eight years since I left the church."
McLean had been an elder in the church but left a few months after his term expired. Pastor Hayes studied McLean’s features. He looked older, and something was clearly troubling him. "Please come in," the pastor invited warmly.
"No," McLean answered quickly, "I only have a few minutes to talk. I just had to tell you I was the one responsible." "What? I don’t...."
"The story about you and Miss Morrow," McLean interrupted. "I was the one who started it all."
"You!" Pastor Hayes’ hands and voice trembled as old emotions flooded back. "But why? You knew I was innocent, didn’t you? Miss Morrow left town to care for her dying father.
She called me to her house the day she learned of her father’s cancer. I went there to pray with her. How could you twist that into...."
"I know! I know!" Tears began to fill the other man’s eyes. "I was twisted, Pastor I twisted with jealousy!
You see, before you came, I was a leader in this church. The previous pastor asked my advice on everything. People looked up to me. The programs I was involved in were flourishing.
"But when you came, a lot of new people came into the church. There were so many new programs and people didn’t listen to my ideas anymore. The church got so big-and it took a different direction.
I felt left behind. I was so angry and bitter against you. Pastor Hayes, I don’t expect you to forgive me, but I just had to tell The pastor stepped toward the man who had deeply hurt him for ten years.
He wrapped his arms around Mr. McLean and embraced him. There in the yellow glow of the porch light, McLean sobbed away years of pent-up sorrow and guilt in the arms of the man he had wronged.
And Pastor Hayes held him with strong arms of forgiveness and unconditional love, saying repeatedly, “I forgive you, my brother. I forgive you.”
Matthew 18:21-22 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?" 22. Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
1. Most will never ask, but you must forgive or bitterness will poison you.
2. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, but it means not bringing it up or holding it against the person.