Grace for a Purpose Driven Life Chapters 22 & 23

April 24, 2004

I. Focus on What We Have in Common, Not Our Differences.

* Conflict is usually a sign that the focus has shifted to less important issues, things the Bible calls “disputable matters.”

  • 1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.

II. Be Realistic In Your Expectations.

  • Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.

- “Every church has baggage” – until the millennium, there is no perfect church

- The GODLY thing to do is to COMMUNICATE and try to solve problems biblically!

III. Choose to Encourage Rather Than Criticize. It Is Always Easier to Criticize Than to Make a Contribution.

  • Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.

* Whenever I judge another believer, four things instantly happen:

1. I lose fellowship with God

2. I expose my own pride

3. I set myself up to be judged by God

4. I harm the fellowship of the church

“It’s the Devil’s job to blame, complain, and criticize members of God’s family. Anytime we do the same, we’re being duped into doing Satan’s work for him. Remember, other Christians, no matter how much you disagree with them, are not the real enemy. Any time we spend comparing or criticizing other believers is time that should have been spent building the unity of our fellowship” – p. 164

- Let’s pick up our study here . . .

- One of the BEST ways to prevent sowing discord or to not be divisive is to . . .

IV. Refuse to Listen to Gossip.

Q: What is the definition of gossip?

Gossip” = passing on information when you are neither part of the problem nor part of the solution.

Input: What makes gossiping or listening to gossip so appealing and common temptation?

[at the root of it is PRIDE – I get to look good at someone else’s expense]

- This is an excellent statement the Warren made:

“People who gossip to you will also gossip about you.

- Paul gives us a very strong warning concerning how we talk about other people:

  • Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

- If there is one thing that will destroy the unity of the body – it’s gossip!

- That’s part of what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 4:29 (to the church at Ephesus)

  • Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Q: What does the word ‘edify’ mean?

A: To build up

- Is that possible when you are gossiping about another person? NO!!!!

Q: What should you do if someone starts gossiping to you?

A: Unless you think I’m part of the problem, or you’re wanting to make me part of the solution, then should you be telling me this?

- if the sin continues, then you have to have a plan to . . .

V. Practice God’s Method For Conflict Resolution.

[Explain the steps of Church Discipline – Step #1: Private; Step #2: Witnesses; Step #3: Church]

(( Key principle: Keep the circle of knowledge as small as possible!

  • Matthew18:15 "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 "Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

- Well, what happens if the person won’t come to me and try to make it right?

> Take the initiative – don’t wait for them to come to you if you know they are sinning

cf. Matthew 5:23-25 [READ]; Galatians 6:1-2

Q: What affect does church discipline have on a person life?

[READ 1 Cor. 5:1-5]

- Remember the GOAL of this process: RESTORATION of that person – his/her relationship to God and any offending parties, and restitution made if possible

VI. Support Your Pastors and Leaders.

  • Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

- Pastors will one day stand before God and give an account of how well they watched over you.

> YOU will give an account to God of how well you followed your leaders.

- The Bible gives pastors very specific instructions on how to deal with divisive people in the fellowship!

Input: What do the following verses teach regarding this subject?

  • 2 Timothy 2:14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.
  • Titus 2:15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. 1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:12 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.
  • Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

“I challenge you to accept your responsibility to protect and promote the unity of your church. Put your full effort into it, and God will be pleased. It will not always be easy. Sometimes you will have to do what’s best for the Body, not yourself, showing preference to others. That’s one reason God puts us in a church family – to learn unselfishness. In community we learn to say “we” instead of “I”, and “our” instead of “mine.” God says, “Don’t think only of your own good, Think of other Christians and what is best for them.” – P. 166

Q: What are you doing personally to make your church family more warm and loving?

1) Prayer for unity – for each other, our leadership, our whole church family

2) Sit w/ others – LOOK for new people you don’t know; build some unity with them.

3) Build godly friendships – church is NOT about listening to sermons, it’s about applying truth and loving God and our neighbors (1stand 2ndgreatest commandments)

4) Serve together – there is hardly anything that will unify a group of people, a family, even a church, than DOING something together – a common cause for which to give your life

5) Communicate – be willing to communicate and solve problems, and if they can’t be resolved, then learn how to lovingly disagree and still love somebody!