Discipline Is God’s Gift and Blessing to the Church

Bible Study

The Peacemaking Church

Discipline Is God’s Gift and Blessing to the Church

What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

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Discipline Is God’s Gift and Blessing to the Church Part 2

Bible Study

Discipline Is God’s Gift and Blessing to the Church Part 2

The Peacemaking Church

Criticism and the Cross

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning (Prov. 9:9). 2

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice (Prov. 12:15).

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice (Prov. 13:10).

He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains under-standing (Prov. 15:32).

A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool (Prov. 17:10).

Purpose: To teach believers to overcome their natural tendency to resist correction and instead to learn to welcome criticism as a blessing from God and a means of personal growth.  Continue reading “Discipline Is God’s Gift and Blessing to the Church Part 2”

Finding Peace through a Prompt You Turn

Bible Study

The Peacemaking  Church

Finding Peace through  a Prompt “You Turn”

 Someone in the crowd  said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with  me.”

 Jesus replied, “Man,  who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them,  “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not  consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Luke 12:13-15 [1]

 Purpose: To encourage believers to break free  from the habit of focusing on other people’s wrongs and to promote peace by  focusing on their own contribution to a conflict.

Key Principle from Small Group Study  #3: God uses conflict  to reveal our idols.

Introduction: “No U Turn” vs. “No!  You Turn.”

Abbreviations  can be confusing. Just think of the people who come to our country and are not  familiar with our cryptic traffic signs. Imagine that one of these people is  driving down the street and sees a sign forbidding U-turns. You and I would read  such a sign as saying, “No U Turn!” and understand that it is telling us not to  turn our vehicle around and drive in the opposite direction. But if someone had  never seen that sign before, he might conclude that the letter “U” stands for  the word “You.” This could lead him to read the sign as saying, “No! You turn!” and conclude that he is being ordered to make an immediate turn. A change  in meaning and emphasis can move people in very different directions.

1.     Our natural reaction to  conflict is to blame others and focus on their wrongs

We see a  similar difference in meaning, emphasis and direction in our Scripture reading  for today, which is found in Luke 12:13-15. Listen carefully to the words of our  Lord Jesus Christ:

13Someone in the crowd said to him,  “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”14Jesus  replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”  15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all  kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his  possessions” (Luke 12:13-15).

Imagine how  this man spoke when he approached our Lord. Where were his thoughts focused?  Where did he place the emphasis in his demand for justice? It is altogether  likely that he said, “Teacher, tell MY BROTHER to divide the inheritance with  me” (add emphasis).

Our sinful  nature gives us an inclination to judge others critically rather than  charitably. As a result, whenever we experience conflict, our natural reaction  is to blame others and focus on their wrongs.

This tendency  is as old as the world. When God confronts Adam in Genesis 3, Adam is quick to  shift the focus to Eve’s conduct. Eve is equally swift to blame Satan for the  sin that has brought cascading conflict into the world.

In Genesis  37, we see how Joseph’s brothers fanned sibling jealousy into a murderous plot  by focusing endlessly on the ways their younger brother offended them. The  account in 1 Samuel 18 and 19 shows how King Saul was obsessed with David’s  conduct and repeatedly blamed him for their estrangement.

This  pervasive tendency to blame others for conflict is so natural that we do not  need to teach it to our children. As soon as they can mouth the simplest words,  they begin to use their tongues to shift the focus from their own wrongs to the  actions of others: “He took my toy!” “She hit me first!” “He does it,  too!”

As we get  older, we try not to be quite so obvious when we blame others for our problems,  but the natural tendency is still there. If we are in a conflict, we ignore or  pass quickly over our own deficiencies while developing detailed lists of what  others have done wrong.

The  inclination to blame others for a problem and focus on their behavior is deeply  engrained in our culture. Soap operas and political campaigns gain their most  avid audiences when the players are lobbing passionate accusations at one  another. And when we engage in courtroom battles, we are willing to pay large  fees to have our attorneys minimize our wrongs and focus the jury’s attention on  our opponent’s deficiencies.

2.     The blame game always makes  conflict worse

Blaming  others for a conflict can do something far worse than generating a big legal  bill. Look back at our text and notice how Jesus responds to the man’s focus on  his brother’s behavior. Jesus says, “Watch out!” Our Lord gives an emphatic  warning that there is great danger ahead when we focus on other’s wrongs and  ignore our own contribution to a conflict.

Jesus knew  that the blame game always makes  conflict worse. It takes our eyes off our own contribution to a conflict and  blinds us to the steps we can take to promote reconciliation. Worse yet,  dwelling on an opponent’s behavior can escalate and expand a conflict by  attracting the attention of other people and tempting them to take up sides.  This dynamic divides countless families, churches, ministries, companies, and  communities every year.

Blaming  others also causes us to look for and exaggerate others’ wrongs, while ignoring  their virtues. This critical perspective inevitably aggravates resentment,  judgmental attitudes, and anger. As these feelings grow in our hearts, we can  become consumed and controlled by bitterness toward others. As Psalm 73:21-22  warns, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and  ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” No wonder Jesus says, “Watch  out!”

3.     You can change the course  of a conflict with a prompt “You-turn”

But thank God  that Jesus’ warning does not end with the words, “Watch out.” He graciously goes  on to say, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not  consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

With this  brief warning, Jesus is teaching us that we can usually change the course of a  conflict with a prompt “you-turn.” That’s spelled,  y-o-u … t-u-r-n.

Our Lord  knows that driving straight ahead and emphasizing others’ wrongs always makes  conflict worse. Therefore, he commands us to turn around and look at ourselves.  He essentially says, “No! Stop blaming others for this conflict. YOU should be  the first one to TURN           around and look for the ways that YOU have contributed to this problem.  TURN aside from blaming and take the road of repentance and confession. That is  the way to peace and reconciliation!”

Jesus gives a  similar exhortation in a passage we looked at last week. In Matthew 7:3-5, he  says:

“Why do you  look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the  plank in your own eye?  How can you  say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time  there is a plank in your own eye?   You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you  will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

In his great  love for us, Jesus is showing us the way that we can turn conflicts around.  Instead of indulging our habit of putting the emphasis on others’ wrongs (and  sticking them in the eye with our sharp accusations!), he teaches us that the  shortest route to peace and reconciliation is to take a careful look in the  mirror so we can identify and confess the “planks” in our own eyes. Then and  only then will we be in a position to graciously and effectively help others to  see how they too have contributed to a conflict and can help to resolve  it.

4.     Genuine  reconciliation and lasting change require a transformed  heart

Confessing  wrong words and behavior will usually change the course of a conflict. A simple  confession will often break the cycle of blaming and subdue intense emotions.  Sometimes it will also encourage others to reflect on their own conduct, which  may eventually lead them to admit their wrongs.

If we want  real peace, however, we must go beyond confessing sinful behavior. Genuine  reconciliation and lasting change require a transformed heart.

Look again at  Luke 12:15: “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in  the abundance of his possessions” (emphasis added). Jesus is teaching us to go  beyond surface behaviors and get to the root cause of our problems, which is  usually a worldly desire that has taken control of our hearts and is compelling  us to say and do sinful things.

Jesus offers  a similar warning in Matthew 15:18-19, where he said, “But the things that come  out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of  the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false  testimony, slander.”

This truth is  echoed and applied specifically to conflict in James 4:1-3, which says:

What causes  fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle  within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and  covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not  have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive,  because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your  pleasures.

Through these  passages, God is teaching us that the key to experiencing genuine peace and  reconciliation is to recognize, confess, and get rid of the sinful desires that  rule our hearts. We cannot do this on our own. No matter how much we hate our  pride, self-righteousness, envy, jealousy, and unforgiveness, we cannot sweep  these things from our hearts through our own efforts.

But God can. He sent  his own precious Son to the cross to pay the full penalty for the many sins that  we have committed against him and one another. Through faith in Christ, we can  experience complete forgiveness and reconciliation with God. As we read in  Colossians 1:19-20, “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and  through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or  things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the  cross.”

When God forgives and  redeems us, he also gives us a new heart. In Ezekiel 36:25-27, he makes this  wonderful promise:

I will sprinkle clean  water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities  and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in  you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful  to keep my laws.

The transformation of  our hearts is both an event and a process. When God saves us, he gives us a new  heart that enables us to repent from our sins and trust in Jesus as our Savior.  That event triggers a life-long process in which the Holy Spirit slowly and  steadily transforms our hearts and minds so that we progressively put off our  old desires and behaviors, and replace them with desires and behaviors that are  pleasing to God (see Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:22-24).

As the passages above  indicate, God often uses conflict to move us along in this transforma­tion  process. Every time we are in a conflict, we have the opportunity to identify  worldly desires that have taken control of our hearts, turned our eyes away from  God, and caused us to do and say things that offend other people. As these  sinful desires are exposed, we can confess them to God, seek his forgiveness,  and ask him to help us find contentment and security in him  alone.

As God purifies and  liberates our hearts, we can also confess our sinful desires to one another.  Instead of staying on the surface and talking only about our behavior, we can  demonstrate the reality of God’s transforming work in our hearts by admitting to  the desires that have been ruling our hearts, such as greed, control, envy, and  selfishness.

These humble and  transparent confessions are far more likely to touch the heart of someone we’ve  offended and move them to forgive us and also take a deeper look at themselves.  When both sides in a conflict dig deep into their own hearts and confess both  the attitudes and the actions that have offended others, peace and  reconciliation are just around the corner.

Conclusion

The natural human  response to conflict is either to run away from the situation or drive straight  ahead and blame others for the problem. Jesus has opened the way for us to take  a different and far better path. By his grace, we can make a humble “you-turn”  by facing up to the sinful desires in our hearts and confessing the logs in our  eyes. This radically different approach to conflict will bring honor to our  Lord, set us free from the blame game, and place our feet on the path to peace,  reconciliation, and lasting change.

Challenge:  Making a “you-turn” means that you are going to go in another direction.  Lay out a practical plan for the route  that you will take, with God’s help, as you go in this new  direction.

This message  from Peacemaker Ministries brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park  Street, Mountain View, Arkansas.   For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email:  [email protected].  A Pass it On  Project

 

Continue reading “Finding Peace through a Prompt You Turn”

The Peacemaking Church

The Peacemaking  Church   The  Powerful Witness of Unity

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life  worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and  gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every  effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  4There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one  hope when you were called–5one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in  all.  Continue reading “The Peacemaking Church”