JP continues the Resolve series by talking about conflict resolution. Teaching from Matthew 5:21-26, he discusses how anger is a big deal to God and how conflict can be an opportunity for discipleship when you own your part and prioritize peace.
Resolve to Be Anchored in Truth
Resolve to Deal with Your Baggage
Resolve to Deal with Anger
Resolve to Remove the Myths Around Love and Dating
16 Things to Convince Your Children of Before 16
Resolve to Pursue Peace as Much as Possible
Resolve to Be Diligent to Stay Together
Resolve to Be in God's Word
Resolve to Do Life Together
Good morning. A few months ago, my wife Monica and I were on a date. Date nights don't come often enough. The sitter comes over, and she's going to take care of our three little ones. We get out the door, and we're going to go have dinner and see a movie. We leave my house in my truck, and we're driving down Arapaho. We're staying in the same lane and going the speed limit. We haven't changed lanes or anything like that.
This car is coming from the other direction in the turning lane, and they turn right in front of us. Evidently, they didn't see us. We collide, make impact. We get in a wreck. We didn't see that coming. We didn't see what was coming next either. I pull into the grocery store parking lot right there, the Sunfresh Vineyards, and I get out of the car. I'm going to go make sure they're okay, and we were okay.
She's out of the car. She's on her phone (of course she was), and she is really teaching me some new words and going crazy. I know that's an offensive word, but I don't know how else to describe what was happening. She is all over the place, like, "This maniac came out of nowhere!" I'm right there like, "Not really nowhere, I came from Hillcrest." She didn't say maniac.
I don't know what to do at first, so I call 911. I'm talking to them, and they're like, "Does she have insurance?" I'm like, "Hey, excuse me, do you have insurance?" She's like, "This is my boyfriend's car!" I'm like, "Hey, guys, it's her boyfriend's car." They're like, "Does her boyfriend have insurance?" "Does your boyfriend have insurance?"
I get off and call my insurance company. I'm talking to them in my truck with Monica, and they're asking all the questions. About 15-20 minutes have gone by now, and she's still on the phone. Well, the boyfriend gets there. If I thought she was crazy… I've never seen anything like it.
He's walking around the car. He's crying, weeping, at one point. He's on the ground at one point. I know he's out there. It's like an explosion. There is the worst curse word you can think of, over and over as a noun, verb, and pronoun, which was the most offensive, because it was targeted at me. That's going on outside the window, and I see this happening as I'm on the phone. My door is open.
He comes up to the window, and he says, "Get the eff out of the car!" "Did you hear that? I have to go." Here's what's going through my mind at this moment, because I'm like, "This is crazy." I think, "You've been trained for this." I'm not talking about taekwondo in the fifth grade. I'm talking about biblical response to conflict and anger. "You've been trained for this."
I had an anger problem my entire life. Sporting events or any kind of competition would break out into a fight. When things didn't go my way, there was explosive anger. Relationships, both friendships and dating relationships, would end in angry explosions. I stumbled into this place a little over a decade ago, and I heard a series called Lord of the Rings.
The Holy Spirit used Todd's teaching on anger to change my life. I was tempted to think, "This guy is just amazing at this." Then, as I got to know him, I realized he had just taken some biblical principles and applied them to relationships.
So I get out of the car and talk to this young man. He tells me I'm going to tell the police officer he was driving, and I let him know why that wasn't going to happen. I said, "Before we talk further, I need to let you know you hurt me with your words back there." In a way, in an explosion of anger, he kind of apologized.
I said, "We're going to work through this. Do you have a faith?" He said, "Yeah, I'm a Christian." I said, "That's so confusing." We got to talk through that in a reasonable way, and it was because of those things I had learned early on that I got to apply in that situation that I didn't give way to anger.
Most of my life, I would have responded in one of two ways: fight or flight. Most of the time in my life, at any other point before coming here and learning this, I would have bowed up on him, and it would not have gone well for either of us, or I would have run and said, "That's not worth it. I don't want to deal with that inconvenience right now, so I'm going to continue to go the other way." When this explosion of anger is happening outside my car, I think, "I've been trained for this."
Let me ask you a question. What do you do when you see an explosion? I'm using it as a metaphor, but when you see a literal explosion, what do you do? There are two things we do. One is we run. Someone says, "Bomb!" and we run as fast as we can from it. Another thing we do is we're entertained by it. We watch it like fireworks, if you will, in the same way we watch these reality shows that are marked by lots of conflict and angry explosions. We're entertained by the very things Christ died for, which is also confusing.
There's someone who responds differently in explosions. It's the one who has been trained to deal with explosions, and what I want to do with you for a few minutes this morning is give you the same training I received from the Scriptures so you might deal with explosions. Before I do, I'd love for you to watch the way one young gentleman responded in an explosion. Watch this.
Gio Benitez: Take a look at this dramatic scene caught on newly released surveillance tape. A driver was pumping gas in Harrison, New York, last week, and then this. Out of nowhere, a car flies in, crashing into the pump and immediately starting a massive fire. The man at the pump, New York State Police Senior Investigator John Vescio, escaped the scene just in the nick of time.
John Vescio: The impact was very sudden. It was very quick.
Benitez: Take a look again. Within two seconds, the car hits, the pump falls, and the fire erupts.
Vescio: I actually went to look up and see what was going on, and, next thing I knew, the pump was coming down on top of me.
Benitez: Now watch as more drama unfolds. Vescio, who had at first darted away, runs back after spotting the 70-year-old driver who had crashed the car after suffering a diabetic shock and now could not move.
Vescio: He was not responsive. I found, when I got to the car, he was pretty much helpless.
Benitez: Vescio struggles to get him out of the car, finally dragging him out by his shirt, only to return to the fiery scene to get a first aid kit from his car. There wasn't a moment to spare. Take a look. Seconds later, a ball of fire consumes the car. Both men are miraculously out of the danger zone.
Male: I think John did a very heroic thing. He starts off as a civilian, he becomes a victim, and then his police training kicks in, and he actually saved somebody's life.
[End of Video]
I want to point out two things to you from that video. It says he started out as a victim, and then his training kicked in. At first, he ran as fast as he could, and then his training kicked in, and he brought about peace into a situation that would have been catastrophic otherwise, if he weren't trained.
I disagree with something they said. They said, "Both men were miraculously saved from danger." It wasn't miraculous. One man had been trained, and his training kicked in. He moved into a situation that saved both of those men. God used a man who had been trained, and that's what I hope to give you this morning.
This is something we have literally taught foreign governments. The president of a foreign nation came here to this place to learn what I'm going to give to you this morning. It is something I've seen taught in businesses when they are in conflict. It is something we will teach here at the Church Leaders Conference on April 19. We will entrust this to pastors, and it is just teachings from this Book with regard to how we resolve conflict and deal with anger.
As we move through this series called Resolve and talk about relationships that work, this morning I want to talk about how to resolve to deal with anger, both your anger and anger that is around you, as well. You might think, "Well, JP, I don't get angry. Can I doze off for the rest of the morning?" The answer is yes, but let me fact-check you really quickly.
I'm going to give you some things I get angry about. Whenever my phone breaks, and I have to find another phone to call the phone company, and I get this, "Press 1 for… Press 2 for…" Some of your anxiety has already gone up. I see it out there. "Press 3 for… Press 4 for… Press 5…" I'm like, "Let me talk to somebody."
"I'm sorry, we don't understand that command."
"I want to talk to someone. Give me a person!"
Then it's like, "Due to high call volumes right now, would you please hold for six hours." Then I talk to somebody eventually, but we don't talk the same language well. Sometimes I get hung up on. It's really frustrating.
Have you ever been at a traffic light, and the light turns green, it takes you all of five seconds to go from the brake to the accelerator, and someone behind you honks. There's something really offensive about a honk. I don't know what it is. It just sounds like a curse word. Maybe it's takeout. The other day, I ordered takeout, and I'm so patient with that little thing you talk into. I get home, and my hamburger is not in there, and I just don't know why. That's really frustrating.
Maybe this is yours, and it's certainly mine: traffic. I don't know what is so difficult about everyone driving the same speed limit the same way, but some of you, evidently, have a real challenge with that. I'm like, "Why is this happening right now? Everybody, we're all on a road, and we all need to go in that direction." You get up there, and it's some elderly person. It's like, "Somebody needs to take your license."
Maybe it's parenting. Maybe your 2-year-old won't eat their carrots, which is very difficult, your 4-year-old won't stay in their seat, or maybe your 16-year-old is acting like you when you were 16. Maybe that's what's creating anger in your life, or maybe it was this morning when you got to Watermark, and you don't understand how something as simple as parking needs to be so complex as it is. Some of you have pointed a finger at our parking attendants, and I want to remind you this is church, so, welcome.
Jesus says this is a really big deal. In the greatest sermon of all time, he says, "The way you deal with anger will impact the way you will be judged. Those of you who are angry will incur a stricter judgment. You will be judged for that," he says in a really crazy way I want to point out to you.
I'm going to travel through Matthew 5, if you want to turn there. It's the first book in the New Testament. I'll be in verse 21 and following. As we move through this, we're going to look at a change in perspective, a part to own, and a path to pursue. Jesus is giving this famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, and he says this:
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'" Right about now, we're nodding our heads like, "Yes, Jesus, you shouldn't murder. Anyone who murders someone should be subject to judgment. We agree, Jesus." Then he says, "But I tell you that anyone who…" Uh-oh. "…is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment."
In the same way someone who murders will be subject to judgment, someone who is angry will be subject to judgment. "Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, 'Raca'…" That just means worthless, that they say something offensive to them. "…is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell."
What? Jesus just said, "If you call somebody a fool, you're in danger of hell." What do we do with that? He said, "If you call someone a fool, you're in danger." It's black and white. They're right there on the page, and it's very clear. We're going to come back and try to understand the context of that, but we need to stop reading over that like it's not a big deal.
It's a big deal. He says if you call someone a fool or respond out of anger to someone, you're in danger of the fires of hell. Wow. He's talking about both the emotion of anger and the response to the emotion. He covers both anyone who is angry and anyone who lashes out in anger.
Let me point this out before we go further. Being a Christian means bringing our anger under the control of God's Spirit, Jesus' Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Our problem, I think, is we see conflict as an opportunity to display our anger. "Let me show you how angry I am. You need to know how angry I am." We display that.
1._ A perspective to change._ There has to be a perspective to change here, which is this:
A. Understand anger is a big deal to God. This really, really matters to God. Everyone here would say, "Yes, those who murder need to be dealt with." In fact, in Leviticus 24:17, when Jesus says, "You've heard it said: 'Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death,'" they would have know this.
They understood the law. "Yes, Jesus, we agree." He says, "If you get angry, you deserve judgment and punishment." Oh no. Just so you know who he's talking to, every single person in this room has been angry in a way that deserves judgment and punishment. He's talking about your anger, not someone else's anger, but your anger.
He's not just talking about acting on it, but entertaining the thoughts of it. You're really tempted to think, "Yes, I know that person who struggles with anger." Let me introduce you to Angry Andrew here. You've seen him. He's a UFC fighter. He has anger issues. He's mad at his dad, and he's never recovered from it, and he hates the world. We know Angry Andrew.
Now let me introduce you to my friend Sunday School Susie. She knows God's Word, she's walking, she's in Sunday school, and she leads her Community Group. You think, "Yes, that's Angry Andrew, but she is God's gift." Then you see her thoughts, and you understand they're both guilty of murder. They're both due judgment.
You're like, "My thoughts are my safe place." No, they're not. Your thoughts are feeding your heart. Your thoughts are getting you all worked up. Your thoughts are following you like a dark cloud. We're all condemned of this very thing Jesus said 2,000 years ago. Anger is an opportunity to respond in the flesh or in the Spirit. We can murder or we can worship. Those are our choices.
We're talking about a perspective to change, not just to understand anger is a big deal, but also that…
B. Conflict is an opportunity. Conflict isn't bad in and of itself. It's an opportunity to respond in the Spirit. Conflict is actually a good thing. For believers, Christ-followers, conflict is your greatest opportunity to display your faith. Much like persecution, conflict is an incredible opportunity for you to display who you trust.
I've heard people say, "We have a great relationship. We never conflict." That's not a relationship. That's a shallow relationship. All healthy relationships are marked by conflict. It's not bad, but unresolved conflict marks the lives of unhealthy people. Unresolved conflict marks unhealthy relationships.
This is an opportunity, indeed. It's one we can't pass up. Ephesians 4:3 says, "Make every effort in preserving the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace." It says, "Be diligent. Work hard at preserving the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace." This is something we have to work diligently at. It's hard, and right now you're so tempted to think I'm not talking about you, and I'm talking straight to you, specifically and exactly to you.
Hard conversations are not fun, but they're not optional, either. In fact, if Todd were here, he would say 80 percent of what he does is resolve conflict, which makes you think, "Man, it must be an unhealthy place." No, no. That breathes health into this place, because 100 percent of what he does is making disciples. When you are resolving conflict in a biblical way, you are producing disciples. That is, in its essence, discipleship.
My wife has a Suburban, and if the check engine light came on, that check engine light is telling me something is wrong. I can respond to it in one of three ways, two of them being the wrong way. One is to ignore it. I can sit there and be like, "Oh, a lot of people's check engine lights are on. I'm sure it's fine." The other way is I can overreact to it. "Your check engine light came on? We need to sell this thing. Leave this piece of trash here, and let's go." That's an overreaction to it.
Or, I can do the right thing, which is to work really, really hard to figure out what's going on inside all those components that is causing that. If I ignore it, it's going to continue to break down and get more expensive, but if I see it and say, "I'm going to put in the work to find out what's going on…"
Your anger is like a check engine light. When you feel that emotion, it's like a check engine light saying, "Something's off. I'm angry. Something's off." We can ignore it, and it can build up; we can overreact to it and lash out; or we can do the work and say, "What is going on inside of me that is making me so angry right now?" We can respond in the Spirit, which is hard work.
What does it look like to respond in the Spirit? In Matthew 5:23, Jesus goes on preaching. "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." I think we read that, and we're like, "Okay, that is not applicable to us, because I've never even left a gift at the altar."
Here's what he's talking about. They would have brought a gift seeking the Lord's forgiveness, a sacrifice, a burnt, fragrant offering, saying, "God, forgive us." He's saying, "Before you seek my forgiveness, you go seek their forgiveness." He says, "You need to prioritize these vertical relationships before you come and work on this horizontal relationship. Before you come to me, asking me to forgive you, you need to go to them and ask them to forgive you."
This is what he's saying here. Jesus says this in this prime real estate, in the most famous sermon of all time, he's like, "I really want you to know this important. This relationship can't be right unless these relationships are right." This is why you see this repeated in the Scriptures, just in case you were to say, "Well, that's one rogue spot." No, no. Jesus says, "Forgive us our trespasses, our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." Our seeking forgiveness to others and our seeking forgiveness from God always go hand-in-hand.
Here's what this means. This is a really crazy application for some of you. You need to stop singing. Stop worshiping. Stop praying. You need to start going. Before the message is over, you need to buy a plane ticket. Get on southwest.com or americanairlines.com. You need to go. You need to sit in front of someone and say, "Would you forgive me? This relationship is not right. I can't pursue this relationship any more. I have to go and ask your forgiveness."
I had to do that before I preached this sermon. The Lord showed me, "This relationship is not right. You need to go and ask their forgiveness. Before you go up there and tell everybody else to do it, you make sure you do this."
2._ A part to own._ We have a part to own, and as kindly and candidly as I can say this, it's your part. "What is the part I need to own, JP? What is the part I need to own, Jesus?" It's your part. It's our part. It's the part you have in the conflict. If you are a part of a conflict, you have a part in the conflict. You may have to do work to figure out what that is and understand why they're angry at you, and you may not agree with it, but you need to figure out what that is and identify your part in the conflict. What is your part in this?
As followers of Christ, we do not avoid the explosion. As followers of Christ, we run into the explosion in a way that's weird to the world. It doesn't make sense. "Why are you going in there? That person is unreasonable." "I know. It's what I do. I follow Jesus." We run into the explosion. Who does this? SWAT does this. The Hurt Locker, Bomb Squad, FBI, Navy SEALs… When everyone else hears gunfire and runs this way, Christians go that way, like those who are trained to. We're running to the explosion.
It's like that check engine light. When you feel anger, that signal, before you lash out, look inward. Don't get angry, have conversations in your head, or gossip. Don't say, "I just want to vent to you. I just want to see if it's reasonable to take it to them. I want to tell you what they did, because I'm hurt, and I need to talk about it." No. Go only to them, someone who is a part of the conflict. Matthew 18 says, "Go to the person in private, just you and them." You're not bringing others in.
You only talk to people who are part of the problem, and don't assume you know why they did what they did. When I saw that car hit that gas pump and drive into there, my first thought was, "Some drunk guy, you know… Some person who fell asleep at the wheel ran off the road and hit this gas pump." No, it's a person who went into diabetic seizure. It's like, "Oh, I didn't know that."
That's right. You don't know everything. The hardest thing to do in conflict is to not assume. I can't tell you how many times someone who is certain this person was angry, vengeful, wrathful, and Satan's minion, when they get in there, they say, "I had no idea that happened to you. I didn't know you knew that. I didn't know you had that information. I didn't know why you responded that way, and now I'm learning." Don't make assumptions.
You have something to own, and the challenge is to identify it quickly, with a sense of eagerness. Understand you hurt someone Jesus died for, one of God's creations. Ephesians 4:26 says, "In your anger do not sin…" It's interesting you can be angry and not sin if you're not entertaining that anger. It says, "In your anger do not sin…" Here's how you don't sin: "…Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…"
There's eagerness to run, be diligent, and preserve the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace in the same chapter, that you would run and be reconciled to that person, it says, before the sun sets. One thing that served me well here at Watermark was this 24-hour rule coming from this verse. If someone comes to me, and they begin to vent about someone else, I would tell them, "I'm not a part of the problem, and you told me, so now you need to go tell them. You need to do so within 24 hours, or I'm going to have to go tell them because you told me."
In the same way, if I'm angry at someone, I want to give myself 24 hours to go to that person and let them know how I've been hurt by them. I keep short accounts as the Scripture calls us to. When people come to you, and you say, "You need to go tell them, or I'm going to tell them," they stop coming to you, which is a good thing. They stop gossiping to you about other people. That's what it is when we talk to someone about someone else. Let's go ahead and put that in the "gossip" category. We have some Scriptures around that as well.
I think the reason people don't know what to do here and the reason they feel like they have to vent is because they don't know what to say. I'm going to tell you right now exactly what to say. I think this will serve you very well. You can write these words on the top of a notebook paper. In your time with God, write down, "Will you forgive me for…" and leave a blank space.
Put that at the top of the notebook page, and then begin to write every single thing you can own, every log you can pull out of your eye, everything you possibly have done wrong. "What can I own?" Work hard. "I should have never been angry. I sinned against you in my anger. I sinned against you in the way I talked about someone else. I sinned against you in the way I carried this for weeks. I sinned against you in the way I responded."
"Will you forgive me for…" not, "Will you forgive me, but…" or "Will you forgive me, and…" It's not, "Forgive me." You're not commanding them. You're asking, "Will you please forgive me for this?"
The second thing I think will serve you very well is you can write on the top of your notebook page, "You hurt me by…" This one tends to come more easily to us. We can always see the way they hurt us. We can't see the way we hurt them. "You hurt me by…" and then begin to write down, specifically, "This is what you did, and I want to try not to make any assumptions. This is my perception of what you did that caused me pain."
"You hurt me," is so vulnerable. We've all seen the person who refuses to admit they've been hurt. "I'm not hurt. No, they didn't hurt me. I'm not even hurt by them." I think you're hurt. I'm just going to go out on a limb and say you seem a little bit hurt. It's like a dog who has been hit by a car and tries to bite at anybody who goes near him. It's a good dog, maybe, but it's just hurt. Hurt people hurt people, and it's not okay to hurt people.
If that's you, and you're like, "I'm not hurt," you probably are. It's probably a great sensor, a check engine light saying, "You're really hurt." People who say they're not hurt usually are really hurt. What I'm asking you to do in this section, and what Jesus is asking you to do, is to own 100 percent of your percentage of the conflict. You have a percentage of the conflict. To illustrate that, I want to share a story with you. I'm not trying to enable sin, so let me remove that from your mind. I am saying you should own some portion of any conflict you're involved in.
As a young man, a friend of mine in vocational ministry got to minister to a young man who grew up in an abusive home. What that looked like is, for the first part of his existence, his dad would beat his mom on a regular occurrence. His dad would have too much to drink, and then he would take out his anger on his mom.
This young man would hide behind the oven. There was this little crevice in the wall, and he would hide behind there as he listened to his mom scream in pain, the angst of the fight, the blows, and all of that that was occurring. You can imagine what that would do to someone's heart.
One day, his dad found his hiding spot. The target of his dad's anger moved from his mom to him. His dad began to beat him on a regular, weekly occurrence. This was his lot in life, so he thought. From when he was 6 years old until he left the house, he was beaten by his father. My friend in ministry met this young man as an adult, and you can imagine the wounds, damage, and hurt that young guy would carry with him.
As my friend sought to minister to him and shared the gospel with him, this young man said, "I understand that God forgave me, but I will never forgive my father for what he's done. I will never forgive him." My friend said something in response to that that you might think is insensitive. He said, "Is there anything you can own in that conflict?" He didn't even understand. He was like, "What are you talking about?"
"Is there anything you can own in your relationship with your father?"
"What don't you understand? My dad beat me every week of my life. You want me to own something? He beat me."
My friend didn't back down and said, "Is there anything you can own? Is there anything you've done wrong you wish you had done differently?" Out of anger, he said, "Sure! I spit on him, cussed at him, and ran from him. I've told others about him. I hate that man." My friend said, "That's a starting spot. What if you went to him, and with the same grace God has extended to you, you asked his forgiveness? Is there some percentage of this 100 percent of conflict you can own?" He said, "Maybe 2 percent." "Awesome. Own 100 percent of your 2 percent."
He goes to his dad and says, "Dad, I've hated you for so long. I've hated you. It's a hate that has owned me and impacted my relationship with God, a hate that has controlled me. I've carried such deep hurts that have impacted where I work, relationships, and everything about me, Dad. I want to ask your forgiveness for the hate I've carried. I want to ask your forgiveness for the things I've said about you and the things I've said to you."
The dad, who was a wicked, hateful, hurtful person fell to his knees and began to weep uncontrollably. The only words he could get out were, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." This young man got to share Christ with his father, and his father trusted Christ. It's this powerful picture of what happens when we can represent the gospel in our everyday lives. It takes away your excuse.
Whatever has been done to you, the hurts that have been done to you… There is something you can own, not to enable their sin, but to not let their sin control you, that you might be free from it. Christ died to set you free from it. You are responsible for how you respond to sin committed against you. Verse 25:
"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."
Jesus is preaching. He's like, "Anger is equal to murder." It's crazy. Jesus is like, "If someone's upset with you, and you're going to ask God's forgiveness, go ask their forgiveness first." Okay, Jesus I'm tracking with you. "Before we move on, let me give you a little bit of legal advice." What? It almost feels like it doesn't fit in here.
Let me explain to you why I think it does fit right there, why he followed that. He's saying, "On the road to court, what are you thinking about?" In our flesh, our minds get consumed with the thought of, "How do we win?" This plays itself out in your marriage, your parenting, and your relationships at work. Whenever there's conflict, your mind goes to, "How do I win? How do I come out the best here? How do I strategize?"
He says, "No. On the way to court, you need to be thinking, 'How do I bring peace to this situation? How do I represent God as best as I possibly can in this temporary situation that will not matter 200 years for now except for how I pointed them to Jesus. Period. How do I think about pointing them to Christ in this situation?'"
On the road, stop thinking about how you're going to win, and settle matters quickly. If you leave it in the hands of someone else, it may not go well for you. Then, it's out of your control. Whenever you're thinking about how you can win, you've already lost. That is a trap, and once you step into that trap, it's really hard to pull out.
Things can go legal so fast. I've seen this over and over up here. Two people are in a disagreement over something rather silly. One of them uses a legal term, and the next one gets an attorney, and then, all of a sudden, they're in court. It's like, "How did we get here?" You didn't settle matters quickly with your adversary. Your adversary is your opponent, the other one. "You want me to go try to make peace with my opponent?" Yes. That's what Jesus is saying. It's costly to resolve conflict, but it's always costlier not to.
3._ A path to pursue._ The path we pursue is you and I prioritizing making peace, that we would prioritize peace above victory and everything else. This stuff really matters, and I know why Jesus put it in the Sermon on the Mount. It's because it's so important. I get to see that, specifically, from being here.
The number one determiner in marriage health is the ability to resolve conflict. It impacts your parenting. It impacts the employee or employer you are, the follower of Christ you are, the Community Group member you are, and the church member you are. Your surrender and submission to the training by the Spirit of God's Word as it relates to conflict really, really matters. It's very important. You can be a better parent, employee, employer, and Christ-follower.
Here's the path worthy of pursuit: You overlook a small offense. You own your part, 100 percent of your percentage. You go directly to them and tell them, and you work toward peace, not victory. Overlooking a small offense is the new one. Let me expound on that one. This is actually the Real Truth. Real Quick this week, as God's sovereignty would have it. Proverbs 19:11 says, "A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense." In fact, in your Conflict Field Guide, it's called "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff."
If you're in a Community Group, and if you're here, I hope you're in a Community Group, one application from this message is our Community Team has put together a conflict curriculum I'd love for you to go through if you haven't. Review the Conflict Field Guide. Look at the verses. Everyone here can do that this week. It's a great application for you. Again, they've put together that curriculum. If you don't know about it, reach out to our Community Team.
You must be asking right about now, "How do I know if I can overlook a small offense? How do I know if it's small?" Have you guys ever seen those Jumbo Super Buffets on the side of the road? It looks like a casino. It's usually in lights: "Jumbo Super Buffet!" You probably wonder when you drive by there, "Who eats at that place?" This guy.
I love those places. What's not to love? You have crab legs, shrimp, some mystery meat, sushi… It's all great. I go to those places. I frequent them. Sometimes, when I get home, I'm like, "Something's not sitting right. Something is not okay right now inside of me. I might see that again."
In the same way, the exact same way… No, I'm just kidding. In a similar way, when something isn't sitting right with conflict, it's not a small offense. It's not an offense you can overlook. When it's an offense you can overlook, it just happens. You overlook it. Hopefully you have community in your life, and they can tell you, "You're just really nitpicky. You don't like my radio station, the color of my car, or the way I wear my clothes. Jeez."
If that's you, you need community. If it's a small offense, it's overlooked. If it's something that continues to stir around in your head, if there's something not right, and you begin to have these conversations in the shower or the car by yourself about a person, you need to go talk to them, and you need to do it with a sense of urgency.
Let me say this before we wrap up. The Scripture calls us to be wise in the way we act toward outsiders. Now, because we've been together, and maybe you've hung out here and caught the Lord of the Rings series, you've been trained in this. The outside world hasn't. I went to church my entire life, and I had never heard this passage taught in a way such that I could apply it to my life.
I hope you would be grace-filled with those who don't know your God and who don't have your Spirit. If you've been ripped off by a non-believer, that's just them fulfilling their job description. It's hard to hold them accountable. You can always speak truth, and you can always talk through it. "This is the right way to do things, and this is morality," but at the end of the day, they don't have the Spirit of God.
Your role in that is to share the gospel with them, to tell them about a Jesus who changes lives, to point them to Christ and his death and resurrection as an event for the forgiveness of their sins. Peace is such a powerful thing. Any 3-year-old (I have a 3-year-old) can turn anger to violence. Any child can lash out, be sassy, and find identity in that, but God says, "Blessed are the peacemakers."
In the same chapter, Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be God's children." They're going to look like him. They're going to carry his DNA. They're going to represent him in the world. We've all been angry. Jesus said anger equals murder, and murder requires the payment of a life.
In the context of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is showing you your desperate desperation, your need for a Savior, for someone to die and give their life for the things you've done, for your anger problem. Jesus said, "I'm just the man for the job." It was your anger that held him there. It held him to the cross, killed him, and crushed him.
It was the things you've done wrong against a holy God and the things I've done wrong that held Christ to the cross, and his death was enough to give you new life so you don't have to be angry. In summary, a new perspective is anger is a big deal, and conflict is an opportunity. The part you own is 100 percent of your part. If you are a follower of Christ, you need to pursue the path of peace.
I've seen beautiful things happen. I've seen marriages healed of hurts they thought would never be okay. I've seen the wife of a husband look at another woman who he slept with and forgive her. I've seen people who have been sued drop the suit, hug, and pursue peace. I've seen people who were sexually abused forgive their offender.
I've seen roommates who hated each other serve together. I've seen friends who got way sideways, and one responds in the Spirit, and God brings peace. I've seen an entire neighborhood up in arms, and because someone was trained in this way, they went into the situation, and the Spirit of God brings peace. It's a really powerful thing.
What happens when the explosion is not outside but inside of you? A friend asked me, "When is the last time you've been really, really angry?" I said, "That's easy." Something had marked my life for so long, and the Spirit of God came and did a work, and I thought I was healed of it. Then this event happened. I've actually told you about it before.
I had this truck, and it had hail dents all over it. It was badly dented and damaged by hail. I had reached out to this paintless dent repair company, because I thought that would be much less expensive than putting on new body panels to this truck and repairing the damage. I reached out to this paintless dent repair company.
These four men come over, and they walk me through how they're going to fix it. They were so kind. I was really grateful to these guys that they came over. They began to apply this mud, this red clay, to every dent. They sat out there for hours, and they worked on those dents. During the process, I got to share the gospel with one of them. He actually cried in hearing the good news that Christ had died for their sins. I was so grateful that God, in his sovereignty, would give us this opportunity.
Afterward, they came up and said, "Mr. Pokluda, we're finished. Everything but two dents came out. All of the other ones seemed to come out nicely. We're going to come back tomorrow and bring another tool to work on those two dents. If we could get paid for the portion we did today, you can pay us the rest tomorrow. What we did today was worth $800."
I said, "Great. Thank you." I paid them $800, and they go on their way. Especially in this time, $800 is an enormous amount to me. The next day, they didn't come back. The next day, I called them, and they didn't answer. I kept calling, and still, no answer. I called them from my wife's phone, and they answered. "Hey, this is JP. You've worked on my truck…" Dial tone.
I thought, "Oh, no." I go out there, and my truck is covered in this red clay. I began to wipe it off, and it looked exactly as it did before they ever showed up. I was taken. You probably think, "You were foolish." I was, but I can't explain the anger and frustration I felt in that moment, that people had betrayed me. I had built this relationship with them, and they had strategically manipulated me to the point of stealing money I didn't have to be stolen from in that way.
I was so mad, and immediately, embarrassingly, where I went in my mind instantly was, "I'm going to get even. This is simple. I'm going to call them from someone else's phone, and I'm going to tell them about another vehicle that's damaged. I'm going to meet them in a parking lot with a tire iron, and this is going to be okay."
What's crazy is I'm not even kidding. That's what was going through my mind and my heart, and it followed me like a cloud. People saw it, because when you're angry like that, it's hard to focus on other things. It bothers you. My Community Group said, "Bro, are you going to be okay?" "I don't know. I need to figure this out."
A few days go by, and I check our bank account, and there's an additional $800 in there. I identified the person who had put it in there, and I said, "What are you doing?" He said, "Bro, it's not worth your anger. It's not worth it. I'll pay for you to not have to be angry." He didn't have $800 either. "I'll pay so you don't have to be angry. I'll replace whatever they've taken from you so you don't have to be mad at them." This is what Christ did. Don't you see the gospel?
All of your fences are at God. He pays the price. He rushes in toward the explosion. He steps into chaos, and he says, "I will resolve this with my own life and death." He's tortured for you, so you can stop walking around so angry. It's been paid for. He died for your sins. He died for the very sins of the people who literally put the nails through his hands and the people who put nails through your heart. If we just did what this Book said, if we just lived according to it… Let me pray we would.
Father, please help us understand the great lengths you have gone to to help us resolve our conflict and to show us we don't have to walk around in anger. No one has been betrayed like you've been betrayed.
The worst case of abuse on the planet, in addition to millions and billions of others, went onto Christ. You endured it, too, from them and from us, and you paid for it. God, help us be free. Show us the gospel in a new way that would set us free from the anger we carry. In your name we pray, amen.
"Will you forgive me for…?" "You hurt me by…" If you're going to have those conversations this week, let us know. We'd love to be praying for you. You can tell us by turning in that section of the Watermark News. Thank you for going through God's Word with us. Have a great week of worship.