Today, we’re talking about eight different ways of how God will bless us. And if we will do these eight things. These are things that we will do that will increase our happiness. They will increase our relationships. It will increase our spiritual vitality. It will help us to be better at our jobs and our careers.
One of the fundamental things that we need in order to be happy is how to handle conflict resolution. And the reality is, is that how we reconcile a broken or strained relationship? And if you think about it, this is a skill that is needed in every arena of our life. If you’re married, do you need to know how to reconcile a strained relationship? Absolutely. I’m not going to ask anybody to raise your hand if you’re a parent. Do you need to do that with your children? Absolutely. If you have a job or career, you should do that with your boss or with your employees. If you are in a life group, you have to know how to reconcile relationships there, even in church, even with your neighbors, in your neighborhood. Literally, everywhere you go, there is a need to restore broken or strained relationships. And here’s the reality. Nobody taught us how to reconcile relationships.
I don’t know about you, but my parents didn’t teach me how to reconcile broken or strained relationships. And the reason why is that nobody taught them. And you didn’t take a class on it in school. You didn’t read a book on it. It’s one of these skills that is essentially ignored in our society. Someone has said that 70% of Americans handle conflict the same way. They ignore it. And that is roughly true. But here’s what Jesus says in Matthew 5. He says this.
“Blessed or happy are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9 (NIV).
Happy are the peacemakers. Now, if you want to know if you’re going to heaven, if you want to know that you’re a child of God, if you ought to know that you’re saved. Here’s one of the clear ways to know that you’re safe. If you are a peacemaker, you will be called the children of God. Now, it’s important that you understand that there’s a difference between a peace keeper, a peace breaker and a peacemaker. Let me just break these down for you. These are not only outlines if you are to take notes, take notes. Let me just break this down for you individually. There’s the peacekeeper, the peace breaker, and then there’s peacemaker.
The peacekeeper describes many of you that’s in the room today. Your M.O. is that whenever conflict breaks out, what do you do? You run in the opposite direction. You ignore it. You just somehow or another, avoid it all together. And that is what you call a peacekeeper. They keep peace at all costs. And many of you, you would fit into that category.
Many of you are the peace breakers. And the peace breakers are the people that go on the defense. You become full of anger. You become hostile, you begin to hold grudges. Is that you begin to take it out on other people. You get upset. You get on the defense with other people. But Jesus says, blessed are the peacemakers.
The peacemakers are the individuals who are willing to do the hard work to step into the conflict and resolve the conflict. And trusting God in the process. And would you not agree with me that our world needs more peacemakers and less peace breakers and less peacekeepers? Wouldn’t you agree with me? Right? I would. And here’s the thing, is that today I’m going to describe for you the seven steps in how to be a peacemaker.
Now, before we get there, I want you to understand why I talk about being a peacemaker and you reconciling relationships. I’m not talking about you’re going to go and remarry your ex. I’m not talking about that at all. Here’s what I’m saying, is that you’re going to bury the hatchet. You’re going to let go of your anger. You’re going to release them. You’re going to resolve it somehow or another, the conflict so that you can have peace with you and the person that you’re reconciling with. Now, before we get into these seven steps, I want to explain to you three reasons why you should care about this. Now, for many of you, you’ve had conflict in your life, your entire life. I mean, you’ve been in a broken relationship. For years now, many of you, you’ve had broken relationships for months and weeks. Some of you, it was on the way to church this morning. But here’s the reality for most of us. Would you say, well, I’m just going to let that broken relationship slide and you do not understand the implications of a broken relationship. And the reality is a broken relationship is costing you on so many different levels. I just want to explain to you three of them this morning.
The first thing I want you to understand is that a broken relationship that’s not resolved blocks my fellowship with God. In other words, folks, if you’re not right with one another, how can you be right with God? The only way that you can be right with God is to be right with your other brothers and sisters and the other people in your lives. Because if you’re not there, there’s no way that you can be right with God. But notice what it says here. It says on the next verse. 1 John 4.
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but keeps on hating his brother, he is a liar; for if he doesn’t love his brother who is right there in front of him, how can he love God whom he has never seen?” 1 John 4:20 (LB)
Folks, if you’re out of a relationship with someone here on Earth, if your relationship is out of whack, there’s no way that you can have a relationship with God. And here’s the reality for many of you. You’ve got a broken relationship and you’re blaming everybody except yourself. You’re blaming me. You’re blaming the leadership of the church. You’re blaming the fact that the lights are too bright. You blame the music for being too loud. And the reality is that you have a broken relationship, that’s hindering your fellowship with God. And rather than you acknowledging it and doing something about it, you are blaming everyone around you and friends. That is not even fair.
The second thing it does is that it blogs. My prayers from being answered is if you have a broken relationship and you are praying to God, your prayers are blocked. They’re hindered because while God created you and I put us here on Earth so that we can love one another and so that we can express love to one another. And how can we express love to one another when our prayers are being not answered and our relationship with God is blog? Now, husbands, let me show you something here. This is a little scary.1 Peter 3:7 Notice what it says.
“Husbands, be considerate of your wives, and treat them with respect… so that nothing hinders your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7 (NIV)
Now you know what that says. It says this. But if you’re not showing respect, if you’re not treating your wife with love and dignity, then your prayers are not being answered. That’s exactly what the Bible is saying. It’s not what I’m saying. And men. We need to understand. Women we need to understand. Congregation we need to understand. That when our relationships are out of whack, then our prayers are not being heard. We’re out of fellowship with God. But number three, it blocks my happiness.
Now, again, there’s more and more reasons why we should care about this. I’m just giving you what I think is the top three. How many of you last Sunday night watched the special on CBS with Adele? How many of you watched anybody? Now, let me just say, since we don’t go back and watch it, because it is horrible marriage advice from Adele and from Oprah. I mean, it was just a pitiful marriage for us. I mean, nothing biblical about it whatsoever. But here’s the thing I took away from the special, Adele had a conflict with her ex-husband. And you could be sitting on top of the world. You could be one of the most famous celebrities in the entire world. You can have $180 million worth of money. But if you have conflict, things are not right. And her happiness wasn’t there because she had all this conflict with her ex-husband. Now, folks, listen to me. God wants us to sow seeds of peace. Look what it says in James 3:18.
“Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.” James 3:18 (NLT)
Don’t you want to reap a harvest of goodness? Well, how do we do that? We plant Seeds of Peace. And this is the law of sowing and reaping. Whatever you sow is what you will reap. Now, think about this. You can sell something that is good. Or you can sell something that is bad. You can. Sow peace. And you will reap. What? Peace. You can show generosity. And you will reap what generosity you can. Sow generous praise to other people. And what will you reap in return? Generous praise. But you can. Sow bitterness. And what do you reap in to return? Bitterness. You can. Sow resentment. And what do you get in return? Resentment. You can. Sow hatred. And what do you get in return? Hatred.
Now, here’s the thing that you need to realize. Whatever you sow you don’t get that back. But you get what? Hundreds. Thousands of more of that back. Right. You go and plant a kernel of corn in the ground. What do you get back? You don’t get back one kernel of corn. What do you get? You get an entire stock of corn and an entire stock of corn has thousands of kernels of corn that’s on there. And God says, I want you to plant and sow this of peace so that you can reap a harvest of goodness.
So how do you become a peacemaker? Now, let me just say something to you. I believe that everyone in this room has a relationship that is strained or broken that needs to be reconciled. So I think this message is applicable to everyone. I think everybody falls into this category and so this is a reason why I’m talking about this. And there’s seven steps that you need to take. The first one is this.
You make the first move. That you take the initiative. Now, some of you said, nope, I’m not doing that, Pastor. And when they make the first move, then I will engage. I will get into a dialogue. I will seek to reconcile. But I’m not taking the initial move. I’m going to wait on them. Folks, listen to me. That is called being a peacekeeper, not a peacemaker. A peacemaker steps into it. And they’re willing to make peace. Now, do you understand that there’s something more important than worship? There’s nothing more important than worship. You know what the Bible says? That reconciliation of relationships is more important than our worship. In other words, if you have a broken relationship, you shouldn’t be in worship this morning. You should actually be out reconciling the relationship. Now, not everybody leaves at once, please. Okay. You sit still. But this is true. This is what the Bible says. Look with me, if you will, Matthew 5,
“So if you’re presenting a sacrifice at the altar and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” Mathew 5-23-24 (NLT).
It’s not that you have something against them, but they have something against you. So it could work either way. If you remember that somebody has something against you or you have something against someone else, you should leave your purse. You should leave your Bible. You should leave your notes. You should leave your jacket. You should leave whatever you have. And you should leave. Go find that person. Be reconciled. And then Jesus says, What? Then come back and then offer up your gift that you’re going to give to the Lord. And folks, listen to me, there’s something more important than worship and that’s reconciling relationships.
Let me just ask you a question. How many of you had an argument in the car on the way to church this morning? Don’t raise your hand. But here’s the thing, Jesus would say that it’s more important for you to sit in the car, for you to resolve the relationship before you come into worship. But what do we do? Most of the time, we have an argument on the way to church. We put on a smiley face. We walk into worship and we’re saying, God bless me, speak to me. But we have broken relationships. And folks, the reality is the conflict is never resolved accidentally. Conflict is always resolved intentionally . Conflict never resolves itself. You must make this decision to take the initiative.
Number two, Ask God for wisdom. Not only do you make the decision to go first, but now you have to ask God for wisdom. Now, in James 1:5 here’s what the Bible says.
“If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him, and He will gladly tell you…”. James 1:5 (LB)
Now, here’s the reality for many of you. You’re scared to death to think about reconciling your broken or strained relationship. And you said, Well, what do I say, Pastor? How do I say it, Pastor? When do I say it, Pastor? But that is the reason why we have James. Chapter one, verse five, is that you go to God and you say, God, give me your perspective, give me your wisdom. Help me to understand the path forward. Now listen to me. Because I’m your pastor, because I love you, because I care for you. I’m going to pause right now more to ask you about your head. And I’m going to pray for God’s wisdom. To flow through you as you think about and ponder. How to move forward. To reconcile a broken or strained relationship. So would you pray with me?
Father. We’re all scared to death of conflict. Nobody likes addressing conflict. Yet. You have told us this morning this is more important than worship. It’s more important for us to be in harmony with someone and be in that relationship than it is to be in worship. Lord, we know that you’re not saying go back and remarry an ex or whatever. You’re just saying that we had to reconcile and bury the hatchet. Make peace. Bring forth harmony. And I pray that you give my people these people. The sheep that you’ve entrusted to me, that you will give the people here to church the courage to reconcile. The courage to deal with tough issues that have been pushed under the carpet or swept into the corner and pretended like they were not happening. Lord, help us to face what we’re pretending not to know. Help us to be real. And help us to have integrity. God, give us the right place, the right time, the right thing to say. Help us to come with the right attitude when it comes time to reconcile. And we pray all of these things in the name of Jesus. And everyone agreed and said together. Amen.
Step number one is do what? Take the initiative. Step number two is to do what? Ask for God’s wisdom. Step number three. You’re not going to agree, but you have to do it. You begin with what is my fault? You start out with what is my fault. Now some of you are saying, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, Pastor, it really wasn’t my fault. I promise you, in this broken, strained relationship it’s like it’s true. It’s 99.99%. The other person’s fault. Now, before we get into accusations, before we get into blaming, before we get into belittling, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to offer up the thing that we did wrong. Now, that thing that you did wrong, you could have had the wrong body language. You could have had the wrong facial expression. You could have become defensive. Your response could have been wrong. But you’re going to begin the process by admitting what you did wrong and your poor response, your poor body language or whatever. And as a result of you starting with what you did wrong, then what you’re owning up to is that you had a part to play in the conflict.
Now, here’s the thing that you need to understand is that conflict has very little to do with an issue. What conflict has to do with is what’s going on inside of you. The Bible says there’s two causes of conflict. The first one is my own self-centeredness. My self-centeredness is the cause of conflict with myself, with the world, and with other people. Because listen to me, my friends. What and how I respond to situations is always a direct correlation between what’s going on inside of me. Listen to me. When I am filled with peace, almost nothing upsets me. When I am filled with love. Nothing irritates me when I am filled with Jesus Christ. Nothing ticks me off. Amen. I mean, what’s going on inside of me helps me or hurts me in responding to conflict.
However, if I’m filled with ego, I’m filled with pride. I’m filled with myself. I am filled with self-centeredness. Then guess what happens? Anything can take me off. Anything can irritate me. Anything can send me off in a barrage of words that I shouldn’t say. And it’s the thing that’s going on inside of me that determines how I contribute to what’s going on around me. It all depends on what’s inside of me. Look with me at James 4:1.
Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from selfish desires and that war within you.” James 4:1 (NCB)
It is your own self-centeredness that brings up conflict. It’s your own lack of not living in the presence of God that causes you. The second thing I do very quickly is pride. The second thing that will cause conflict is pride. Now listen to me in pride. I am stubborn in pride. I get my feelings hurt easily. Because you know what pride is? Pride is your ego. You know what ego is? It’s edging God out in my life. That’s what ego is, is edging God out. And what happens is when my ego is at play, you can look at somebody the wrong way and they get mad. Have you ever had that happen? You ever since you said something or smile at something you are supposed to. And boom. They got irritated. They got mad. You know, they do that. You know what? It’s all about the ego. It’s the ego. It’s self-centeredness. It’s pride. When I’m filled with peace, when I’m filled with love, when I’m filled with Jesus Christ, none of that stuff bothers me. And here’s what the Bible says in Proverbs 13:10.
“Pride only leads to arguments.” Proverbs 13:10 (NCB)
Now, folks, some of you are in a log jam with someone in your conflict. I mean, your conflict is going nowhere. There’s no movement. There’s no progress. It’s a standoff. And you don’t know how to get by. I’m going to give you a miracle phrase this morning and this miracle phrase, if you will use it, I promise you will unlock the jam that’s in your relationship and you can begin to move forward. Now, how many of you are interested in the miracle phrase? Anybody interested? There’s a couple of you. Okay, good. Here it is.
“I’m sorry. I was only thinking of myself.”
Now when your spouse wakes up from being passed out, you can say again to them, okay, I’m sorry, I was only thinking of myself because folks, that’s the reality. That’s the truth. That’s what leads to conflict, is that it is something that’s inside of us that has irritated us, that’s caused us not to respond in love and peace. And it’s usually self-centered or a surprise. And here’s the thing. All you have to do to unlock the jam is to say, “I’m sorry. I was only thinking to myself.” Does it make sense? So the first thing we need to do is to make the decision that we’re going to take the initiative. Because while we are peacekeepers, peacemakers, not peacekeepers. The second thing that we’re going to do, we’re going to ask God for wisdom. The third thing that we’re going to do is that we are going to begin and to admit what is my fault. The fourth thing is this: We’re going to listen to their hurt and to their perspective.
Now, it’s very important to listen for hurt because there’s always hurt in the conflict. The conflict is never about the ideal. The emotions and the feelings are what produces the conflict. Now, you’ve heard me say this, “hurt people, hurt people.” The people who’re hurting the most are always the people that’re lashing out the hardest. Because listen to me, friends. When you are filled, full of joy, what are you going to share with other people? Joy, when you’re filled full of peace, what are you going to share with other people? Peace when you’re filled, full of Jesus. What are you going to share with other people? You’re going to share Jesus.
However, when you are filled, full of hurt. You’re going to lash out to everyone around you and hurt people, hurt other people. And what happens is when people hurt us. Very seldom do we ever stop and ask the question, why are you hurting? Because what happens? We become defensive. We become self-centered. Our pride is hurt. And as a result, we don’t pull back the curtains and go, you know what? That person is lashing out in hurt, which means that they’re hurting. And here’s the thing. The people who’re hurting the most and who’re lashing out the most, those are the ones who deserve the least amount of love, but they need the most amount of love at that moment. And here’s the thing. We get perspective by listening and asking questions. Notice what James said in James 1:19.
“Be quick to listen, slow to speed, to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 (NLT)
If you want to diffuse conflict, always listen before speaking. That will defuse conflict every single time. Just ask questions. Say, why are you lashing out? Why are you hurting everybody around you that loves you? And here’s the reason. Because deep down, they’re hurting and they don’t even know how to articulate that, really know how to say it. All that they know how to do is lash out in hurt in anger at everybody around them. [00:28:41][29.2]
[00:28:41] The fifth thing that you’re to do if you’re going to restore a broken or strained relationship, is that you’re to speak the truth tactfully. Do you know of anybody in your life that’s the me monster? Me. Myself and the monster. Me, myself, and I. I just tell the truth. And I’ve told nothing but the truth. The whole truth. And I’ll just come back and I give it to them. If they don’t like it, then that’s just tough on their part. You know, anybody else like that just tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And they don’t care how they say it. You know what we call those people? We call them rude. You know, we call those people who’s doing that. We call those individuals jerks. Because here’s the thing, my friends, is this not all are you speaking the truth? But you have to speak the truth in love. Because what does Paul tell us in Ephesians 4:15?
“Speaking the truth is love.” Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)
Folks, listen to me. Truth without love is resistant. Truth with love is received. Let me say that again. Truth without love is resisted. Truth with love is received. So it is just not what you say. It’s how you say it. Proverbs 12:18 says.
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:12 (NIV)
So words can either heal or destroy. They can build or tear down. Now, the sixth thing that you need to do is this. Stop blaming and start fixing the problem. Stop blaming and fix the problem. Fix the problem, not the blame. If you need a case in point of this. It’s Washington, D.C.. I’m not trying to be political. But every year is the president blaming Congress and the Congress blaming the president. Right. And it’s kind of that game. It doesn’t matter who’s in office, which Republican or Democrat. It doesn’t make a difference. They’re blaming each other. And here’s the thing. When you’re blaming each other, guess what? You’re being lame. That’s the definition of blaming, is being lame. And they’re not addressing the problems. They’re all about addressing the blame. And, folks, when you’re addressing the blame, you’re not working on the problems.
Some of you, you’re here today and you have marital problems. Some of you, you have financial problems. Some of you have in-law troubles in your marriage. Some of you, you’re having parenting issues with your children. And instead of addressing and fixing the problems, you’re addressing and fixing the blame. And as long as you are addressing each other and not the problem, you’re never going to fix the problem. And so how do we become peacemakers? We start out by number one saying we’re going to take the initiative. Number two, we’re going to ask God for wisdom. Number three, we’re going to say, this is my fault. This is what I did wrong. Number four, I’m going to listen and get the perspective of the other person because there’s always hurt involved when there’s conflict. Number five, we’re going to speak the truth tactfully. Number six. We’re going to fix the problem, not the blame. And number seven, we’re going to focus on reconciliation. And not resolution. We want to focus on reconciliation. Not resolution. There’s a big difference. Let me explain.
The difference for you is reconciliation means reestablishing the relationship. Again, reconciliation means that you’re not going to marry your ex. You’re not going to go back to him or her. You’re not going to remarry them, it just means that you’re going to bury the hatchet. You’re going to make peace. You’re going to have harmony. You’re going to let go of the hurt. You’re going to let go of the pain. You’re actually going to forgive him or her. That’s what reconciliation is. Resolution means that we resolve every issue. And folks, here’s the thing. In any relationship, you’re not going to resolve every issue.
Somebody asked me one time. Well, Pastor, do you know everything about marriage? No. So how long have you been married? As a 30 years. They go, When are you going to know everything about marriage? I never knew everything about marriage. It’s a working process, right? And here’s the reason why. Because Rose and I don’t see eye to eye on everything. She has a different point of view. I have a different point of view, but we’re reconciled. We resolve. But there’s some things that we can never reconcile. But we still walk hand-in-hand with each other. We still love one another.
See, folks, you don’t have to have, you know, some of the things on the way. You can have unity if there’s uniformity. And that’s not true. If everybody in the relationship is thinking the same thing, then one of the individuals is not needed. You have to have diversity. You have to have a different perspective. And so reconciliation is that you’re reestablishing the relationship. You’re bearing the hatchet. You’re somehow or another. You’re reestablishing a relationship. Resolution means that you resolve every issue. That’s not even possible. I mean, would you not agree with me? There’s things inside of you. Like there’s inside of me. There’s things that I can even resolve about myself, how I can do with someone else. And here’s the thing. Is that Jesus? God has given us the Ministry of Reconciliation. See friends. We just think that this is about you reconciling the relationship. It is. But it is actually your ministry. You will know part of the reason that you’re here on Earth is the Ministry of Reconciliation. Look at the last verse and you outline. This is this from 2 Corinthians 5 from God’s Word.
“God has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. God was using Christ to restore his relationship with humanity. He didn’t hold people’s faults against them, and he has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others. We are Christ’s representatives… We beg you on behalf of Christ to become reunited with God.” 1 Corinthians 5:18-20 (GW).
Aren’t you glad that our relationship has been stored through with him? And how did he reestablish the relationship? It was through Jesus Christ. It was through his death, burial, resurrection, and by Christ death and resurrection, we can have a relationship with God and notice this. And God has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. Not only the relationships that are broken, strained in our own lives, but people around us, because we’re called to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers.
You know what? Aren’t you glad that God didn’t hold our mistakes against us and we should never hold the mistakes of others against them? We should never do that. We should have a forgiving heart. And notice this. And he has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others where to tell others that we’ve been reconciled with Christ. We have this ministry. We had this message as all the people of Jesus Christ. We are supposed to go and help others to be restored.
God’s desire for you this year is for you to have reconciled relationships. Here’s what I believe. I could be wrong. For many of you that are here today, the person that you have a strained or broken relationship with. It’s someone that you’re going to see this coming week at Thanksgiving. Well, I mean, because it’s usually family members that we have broken or. Or strained relationships with. And this week you’re going to have an opportunity. To decide if you’re going to be a peacemaker. And follow God’s command, or are you going to have the opportunity to serve yourself and be a peacekeeper? Or serve yourself and be a peace breaker. And just go on the attack. What I believe God wants you to do is be a peacemaker.
I want you to think about this, whom does God want me to be reconciled with? Maybe have multiple relationships that are strained or broken. But God wants you to reconcile with someone. That’s what you pray about. Then I want you to write their first name down. Or maybe write their initials. And then. As you write those names, the name down, those initials. Then when you’ve done that and you prayed over that. Then what? I’m going to ask you to do some when I ask you to surrender it to God and say God, I’m willing to take on the Ministry of Reconciliation. I’m willing to be a peacemaker. And this holiday season when that person. You have a strained or broken relationship with. You’re going to step into it because you’re going to. Assumed the mantle of being a peacemaker and being a minister of reconciliation.