- Sermon Notes
1 Corinthians 6:1-8
Paul writes to the church in Corinth, they were babes in Christ, they were spiritually immature, and so he writes to build and strengthen their faith, but also to correct their course.
Their spiritual immaturity was already getting them off track and so there’s a strong sense of correction to what Paul writes. There was division and strife and jealousy as they had little mini denominations within the church.
Now, in Chapter 6, Paul addresses another area where their spiritual immaturity caused them to get off course. Apparently, their division and strife was not just limited to whether they aligned themselves with Paul, or Apollos, or Peter, or even Christ, they had many conflicts; to the point that there were lawsuits going on between them, believer against believer. In other words, they were taking their conflicts to the unspiritual, secular courts.
This isn’t right, Paul instructs them. He then shows them the way of maturity, the way of the Spirit. Do you not know, Paul is saying, that you’re not what you used to be, you’ve been washed, you’ve been sanctified, you’ve been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
Therefore, walk in the light of who you are in Christ and not in the way you used to be when you were in the world. Otherwise, how is the church any different than just a group of people in a gathering? We are in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit, and we are called to walk in a new life, transformed by the renewing of our minds.
I. Be Mature in Conflicts
- It would be wonderful if we never had conflicts at all, but the truth of the matter is that this side of heaven, conflicts are a part of life.
- Are there principles that guide our maturity? Yes, absolutely, and Paul shows us those principles of God’s wisdom.
- The first principle is that we are not our own, we’ve been bought with a price, therefore, glorify God by being spiritually mature in conflicts.
- This is an important principle because many believers have the conviction that they should be forgiving and gracious, but as soon as conflict arises, emotions kick in and they throw off all Christian constraints and all hell breaks loose; which is unfortunately an accurate word.
A. Resolve it in the church
- Paul first makes the point that brother should not bring a case against another brother before the secular courts. Instead, the matter should be resolved by those who are mature in the church.
- “Do you not know?” Paul said, “that the saints will judge the world?” By this it suggests that they should have known. Perhaps Paul taught them this himself.
- Jesus Himself taught that those who are faithful in little things, will be put in charge of many things…
Luke 19:17, And he said to him, “Well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.”
- Paul also said that we shall judge angels; and if that is true, how much more, then, should we be able to judge matters of this life.
- How shall we judge angels, or why, is not clear. We know that Jesus is much higher than the angels and that we shall rule and reign with him. We also know that angels minister unto the saints.
Hebrews 1:14, Are [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?
- Therefore, says Paul, shouldn’t the mature saints be able to judge between the brethren?
Illus - A single mother asked the church to help her seek justice from a Christian brother. We met with him and his pastor and resolved it peacefully.
- That being said, the disputes Paul is referring to include relationship and property issues, but criminal cases, for example, belong to the state.
- And in disputes with nonbelievers, the courts are your only recourse.
Illus - I worked in a small restaurant in my teens. I came in one day to find that the manager had taken off with the payroll. Eventually I found him and filed in small claims court against him. He wasn’t a believer, it’s all I could do.
- There is also the assumption here that brothers in a conflict respect the wisdom of spiritual leaders. If not, then it cannot be resolved in the church at all. In other words, if a brother does not respect the church and will not submit to its leaders, then there may be no recourse other than court.
Illus - I was once asked to help resolve a business issue between brothers in another city, but as it became clear that one side was in the wrong, he pulled away. The other let it go, saying, “God settles all accounts.”
B. Be willing to be wronged
- In verse 7 Paul says that the very fact there are lawsuits at all is a defeat for them. Love has not won the day. If they could resolve issues between themselves, wouldn’t that be the result of maturity?
Illus - Raising our kids, we tried to let them settle their disputes first. If not, then we stepped in and helped them resolve it peacefully; a teaching opportunity.
- But there is a godly principle of maturity; “Why not rather be wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?”
- This is the principle of grace, of treating people better than they deserve. And it’s also the way of peace, and God has called us to have peace in our relationships.
Illus - We often have a volleyball tournament at our church family picnic every summer and whatever team I’m on call I’ll huddle everyone together and say, “If there is any difference of opinion on how the ball lands, give it to the other team.” Winning is just not that important.
Illus - When King David was fleeing Jerusalem because his son Absalom was against him, a man named Shimei came, standing some distance from him, and continually shouted insults and cursing at him. David’s general, Abishai, wanted to go over and dispatch his head, but David refused, saying…
2 Samuel 16:12, “Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.”
- That’s actually a statement of faith. David believed that God is the one who settles all accounts. And God did settle the issues of both Absalom and Shimei.
- We live and move and have our being before the Lord and we need to trust that He is the one who orders our steps.
Illus - When I was in my early 20s I agreed to a particular business arrangement with a brother. However, some time later my attorney said that I could not legally agree to that arrangement. But I had given my word. I asked him to seek God’s peace in prayer and that I would abide by his decision. Peace prevailed.
II. Win the Person, not the Argument
- When you take the perspective of being willing to be wronged, you’re saying that the relationship is more important than being right.
- God is showing us through Paul that we are brothers, that relationship matters. We can’t take stuff with us to heaven, but we can take relationships. They are eternal.
Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Romans 12:17-18, Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
- If you’re the kind of person who has to win every argument, then you’ve already lost because you’re going to have a hard time maintaining a relationship.
- Winning doesn’t actually resolve conflicts, it just postpones them for the next chapter. That chapter is called “getting even.”
A. Out grace and out love
- The problem with insisting on winning an argument is that it makes the other person a loser. But grace is more powerful because it may very well bring resolve between you and you may very well also win your brother over.
Illus - Last year we had a leaders conference here at the church and one of the principles we abide by in our leadership is that if someone were to bring an issue against us, they would have to out grace and out love us in order to defeat us.
Proverbs 15:1, A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
- Grace is a very powerful weapon because it may very well undo your enemy, but instead of defeating him, you make him a brother. That’s powerful.
- But grace is not just a stratagem; it’s a quality of character, one that God finds honorable and godly.
- Grace is also the quality of the spiritually mature. Mere men are divisive and contentious.
Proverbs 26:21, Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
2 Timothy 2:24-26, The Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
- Resolving issues and conflicts is a mark of spiritual maturity and those who are mature are called to be an example and lead those who are still growing in their faith.
- The problem is that many people struggle in knowing how to bring grace and love into a conflict so that the matter is settled.
- The key is to speak the truth, but speak the truth in love. Truth by itself can be very harsh, but truth spoken in love is very effective.
Ephesians 4:15, But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.
John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- This is actually a commandment of Jesus. Someone might say, “Did Jesus really give commandments? I mean like commandment like commandments? I knew there were commandments in the Old Testament, but are there actually commandments in the New Testament? I don’t like to word commandment, it sounds so command like, so definitive, so inconvenient.
- “By this,” Jesus said, “all men will know that you are My disciples.” It’s His character in us.
C. More of Him and less of me
- You know what the greatest obstacle is to resolving division and conflict? It’s when there’s too much of me, too much of my pride, too much of my hurt feelings; they get in the way of peace.
- We need more of Him, more of His principles, more of His wisdom, more of His grace.
- The problem is that emotions from hurt pride can be very powerful. I’m convinced that emotions are a wonderful gift from God, but they were meant to serve and not to master.
- I have a saying, “Emotions make great servants, but terrible masters.” As Paul says in the next section…
1 Corinthians 6:12, All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
- It’s a question of faith. Godly results require godly ways. The principles of wisdom that Paul gives us in these chapters are powerful and effective, but we need to stay out of the way and trust that His ways are higher than the way we used to be.
Title: Maturity Applied
Text: 1 Corinthians 6.1-8
Date: June 13-14, 2015
Let’s open to 1 Corinthians chapter 6, beginning in verse 1. 1 Corinthians 6:1. The title of our message this morning is Maturity Applied. Spiritual maturity
applied to how we live our everyday lives. Thank you for Your Word because we know that You empower Your Word by Your Spirit. You send forth Your heart
to transform our lives and God we open our hearts this morning and ask that You press that Word upon us and change us. Show us the ways that are blessed
of God. In Jesus name, amen.
Alright, he is writing to the church in Corinth and he calls them babes in Christ. They’re immature in their faith. And so he’s writing to bring them to maturity, to edify them and build them up. But also to correct the course because their spiritual immaturity has already gotten them into trouble. It’s already gotten them off track so he writes to correct them. He started out by saying ‘are you not married men?’ Look there are divisions, there is strife, there is jealousy and animosity going on. And he says, there is like these mini denominations that people form little groups. One aligning with Paul or Peter in Christ. Now when you get to chapter six, Paul addresses another area where spiritual maturity had gotten them off course. Apparently this division and strife wasn’t just limited to whether they aligned themselves with Paul or Apollos or Peter or whatever. But it had risen to the point where there were all kinds of conflicts and they amped those conflicts up to the point where a brother was suing brother in court before these secular court judges.
He says brother, this should ought not to be. He shows them the ways of maturity, of spiritual maturity, the ways of the Spirit. ‘Don’t you know’ Paul said, ‘that you’re not what you used to be, God has moved upon you, you’ve been washed, you’ve been sanctified, you’ve been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit of our God. Therefore, because of who you are now in Christ, walk in that, walk in the light of who you are, not as you used to be. Don’t walk like you used to walk. You know how Jesus said, you know how they are out there. Don’t be like that, be like this. He is showing us a way that’s higher more mature because it’s in the Spirit of the living God.’ How’s the church different than any other group? We have the Spirit. We have the life of God. We have the principles that directly transform us by renewing our mind and transforming our soul.
I. Be Mature in Conflicts
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 6, just the first eight verses, “Does anyone of you when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” That’s interesting, and “if the world is judged by you, then are you not competent to constitute the smallest of law courts? Do you not know that we shall judge angels?” Another interesting thing “how much more then should we judge matters of this life, if then you have law courts dealing with matters of this world, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, there is not among you one wise man who would be able to decide between his brother?” Now this is kind of mocking them a bit because their pride of themselves on their grasp of the philosophers and the philosophies of the day, Aristotle and Sophocles, and he said “is there not one wise man there who can judge between a brother and resolve this?” And he goes on and to say in verse six oh no brother goes to law against brother and before unbelievers.
Actually, then, it’s already a defeat for you that you have these law suits with one against the other. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud and, that, your own brother. Now this is really a very practical set of verses because in reality there is conflict in this world. I mean, if there is people, there’s conflict. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we never have any conflicts? I mean it’d be absolutely glorious. But the truth is this side of heaven conflicts are part of life. That side of heaven there’s peace and there’s joy and there is no conflict, awesome. This side of heaven, it’s reality.
But, what is he saying, ‘but can you be spiritually mature in conflict?’ That’s what he is calling us to. Be spiritually mature in conflict. Be spiritually mature. Are there principles that guide our maturity in this? Absolutely, Paul says, and he is going to show us the way of God’s wisdom here. The principle first is the foundation that he built when he says, “listen you are not your own”, this is just a few verses later in the chapter, “You are not your own, you’ve been bought with a price”. Now that is a powerful understanding. We gotta grasp that. We’re not like masters of our own destiny, we’re not captains of our own soul, and we can do whatever we like. He says listen, you’re not your own, you’ve been bought with a price. He is the Master, the Captain of your soul, the One who directs and orders your way, and I’m gonna show you a better way. Now this is really important because I think that many believers have convictions. They are convinced that they should go with the way of grace and forgiveness. That’s a great principle. I love those concepts of grace and forgiveness. But the problem is that, as soon as conflict arises, emotions kick in and they throw off all Christian constraints, and all hell breaks loose.
A. Resolve it in the church
He said wait, wait what about the way of the Spirit? It’s far better and so he shows us the principles and he starts with this ‘listen resolve these things in the church. Let it be resolved in the church. Are there not those that are spiritually mature and have the wisdom of the scriptures to guide the resolving of things between brothers? Don’t bring a case against a brother in the secular courts let it be resolved by those who are mature.’ And then he says, ‘do you not know that the saints will judge the world?’ Now when he says do you not know he suggests that they should know this. And perhaps this was one of the things he taught them when he was there among them.
Jesus himself taught something very interesting that those who are faithful in little things will be put in charge of many things. That there is a response of authority and responsibility. In fact, he then refers to the eschaton, in the ladder days, when Christ Himself returns that we will rule and reign with Him and that there is responsibility in ruling and reigning with Him. Notice in Luke 19 verse 17 where he says to him ‘well done good servant because you had been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities, to rule and reign with Christ.’ So he says, therefore do you not know you have a calling, in the future there is responsibility that goes with walking with Christ.
He is going to bless you. Start rising with it now and then he says something interesting that we’re gonna judge angels. How’s that so? Why is that so? I am not sure but it brings up all kinds of questions. Does that mean we get to judge our guardian angel? Where were you when I broke my arm? I fell from that tree you should have stopped me from that. Remember when I had my car accident, my fault, why didn’t you stop me. You’re supposed to be my guardian angel. I don’t think that’s it at all. But what is it? I don’t really know. But we do understand a couple of things. We know that Jesus is higher than angels and that we rule and reign with Him, that we’re brothers. We know that angels are ministering spirits. Hebrew 1:14 ‘are angels not all ministering spirits sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?’ He makes the point though, that because of this, therefore shouldn’t the mature saints be able to judge between the brethren.
A number of years ago, an example of this, a single mom came and asked if the church would help her seek justice from a Christian brother. Apparently she needed the contractor to do some work on her house. She hired this contractor because he was a Christian and things didn’t work out so well. Things didn’t get done right. He wouldn’t resolve it whatever so she came and said I need help with this Christian Brother. So I said okay fine what church did he go to? So she told me the name of the church and I called the pastor and I said hey you’ve got I a guy in your church who is a contractor and there is a dispute with a single mom and I’m gonna help and why don’t we all get together and talk. He said great. So we all got together and we laid it all out there and it became obvious that the contractor needed to make it right. So the pastor said to the contractor, “hey brother, you need to make this right and so he looked at his pastor, ‘okay I’ll make it right’.” And he made it right, things were resolved, and then the pastor and I became friends. Yes you know what I think this can work. This is the way it’s supposed to work. But I think we should add some clarification to somethings. I think Paul is referring to those issues that involve relationships or property, etc. I think we need to make it clear that criminal cases belong to the state. When it comes to the crimes of the state, the state has the authority over these matters. I think also we should clarify that in a dispute with a non-believer the courts are our only recourse. They don’t have any respect for the church or leadership of the church and so that’s your only resource. In fact I remember when I was a teenager 16, 17, I discovered that’s a pretty good resource. I was working in the restaurant business and I came in one day and was told hey the manager has taken off. And he’s taken off with the payroll and I was of course 16, 17 and I needed that money. My check bounced and I was distraught and I was just so disturbed and angry. What do I do? I can’t believe it, I needed that money. And a few months later someone said, hey I found out where the guy is working, and I said really? I looked into it and found out it was true this little investigator in me. And I went and filed small claims. He didn’t show up, I won automatically, garnished his wages, got my money back, yes. It’s only a resource he’s not a believer, he’s not gonna respect or trust a church. It’s only a resource.
Now you see there’s an assumption. The assumption that brothers in a conflict or dispute are gonna respect the scriptures. They’re gonna respect the wisdom of the spiritual leaders otherwise it can’t be resolved in a church at all if there is no respect. Maybe. The only recourse you have is court in that case. But there’s other principles to help us. I was once asked to help resolve a business conflict issue in another city between brothers, a news guy and friends of mine. Would you mind helping us kind of resolve this and mediate between us? And I said sure and so we got together and they laid out their cases and as I was asking questions and going through it, it became very obvious that one person was in the wrong. Well as it was coming out into the light that was the guy who was in the wrong, he responded by saying “I’m out. I see where this is going. I’m done. I’m not gonna be part of this any longer.” Well you can’t resolve it then. If he’s not going to respect and submit to the direction that they’d agreed to in event. What can you do? The other fellow responded by saying “no I will not pursue this anymore. I believe that God settles all accounts in the courtroom of heaven. I will lay it before His feet. I go in peace.” Which of those brothers was the mature brother? Because the brother who says I will trust God in this is showing us the principle that God shows us right in this chapter. Why not rather be wronged? And so he is telling us the principles of maturity, be willing to be wronged.
B. Be willing to be wronged
He says the very fact that there is lawsuits is a defeat for you. Really you’ve allowed this dispute to be amped up to this degree? Love has not won today this is the defeat for you. For love should be between brothers. If they could have resolved this issue amongst them as brothers wouldn’t that have shown their maturity? But immaturity is shown when it starts getting amped up. You know it’s like raising kids. Just like raising kids. As you know we raised five. And invariably when you’ve got more than one in the house there is gonna be a squabble between them. And there is a very important thing I think for them to learn; how to resolve issues. I know that when we watch these squabbles the first thing we would do, the first thing we’d do was nothing. Step back just listen, watch, maybe they can resolve it and if they have resolved it they’ve learned. Squabbles are part of life. Issues, contentions is all part of life. They need to learn to grow in maturity and resolve them so we step back and let them, do nothing. If they bring it down, they resolve it, ahh, there’s peace, they’ve learned. If it starts getting amped up time to jump in, time to jump in with both feet. Okay let’s start this from the beginning. Who said what to whom? How did it get to the point that someone gets bumped in the head? Let’s go through this. And you go through… it is a teaching opportunity because we need to help them see there are principles that bring us to maturity. And here is the principle of godly maturity. Why not rather be wrong, it is a principle of grace. Treating people better than they deserve because it’s a way of peace. Be mature. Be mature in Christ. He’s called us to peace in relationships. I will not contend. I will not fight. I won’t do it. Let’s go for the way of peace.
You know every year in our church barbeque family picnics we always have a volleyball tournament. You know it’s always interesting. You can take someone who’s normally considered mild mannered, calm, gentle of soul and then put him into a sports competition and he turns into, what?, some kind of competitive monster. I myself of course am not compared to this. I just wanted to be clear on that point. I’m probably the least combative person you know. Bet anything on it. That was a joke. That was terrible. But every year we have this tournament and so we have the pastor’s team which we usually win. But we gather together and I always like start by this, a little speech. Listen; if there’s any dispute at all whether the ball is in or it is out give it to them, just automatically it’s yours. If there is any dispute at all whether it hit the net or didn’t hit the net, just give it to them fine it’s yours. Why? Because winning is not that important. But relationships are, because he’s giving us a point. And really when you look at it and you step back and see it’s a spiritual point. It’s an issue of faith.
Will we trust that Gods principles are right? Now it reminds me of a story of King David when he had to flee from Jerusalem. No why did he have to flee? Because his son, Absalom, had created a conspiracy against him. A betrayal of extreme danger. To the point that he actually, Absalom, created an army of men that were prepared to march on Jerusalem. David decided on a retreat, to flee Jerusalem. He did not want the city destroyed in the midst of the war. So he departed. As he was fleeing Jerusalem an interesting scene unfolds. A man comes out of a village, name is Shimei, a relative of Saul who was King before David who obviously had a chip on his shoulder, and he comes out and he sees the opportunity to start throwing insults at David. So he’s across the little gulley there, and he’s throwing dirt clods at him and throwing insults at him, ‘you dog’. He starts cursing at him. You got blood on your hands and you deserve to flee and he wouldn’t stop. He would not stop. As David continues on he just walks down on the other gulley and he’s throwing curses at him. Finally, the general, he’s just had enough of it. And he says ‘David shall I go and dispatch him? Shall I go take his head off?’ David says ‘no, you will not do it. Let him curse. I would rather be wronged’, let him curse, who knows maybe God told him. But then he shows an interesting element of faith.
In second Samuel 16 verse 12 he says ‘perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of cursing this day.’ In other words I have faith. God settles all accounts. God settles all issues. You wait, just wait, don’t move so fast, God settles all things let him curse. And if you know the story, God settled the account with Absalom. It’s the principle of faith. God settles all accounts. This has a lot of personal meaning for me and my family. Many of you know the tragedy that has befallen us. Our daughter was killed last year and a few months into it the detectives sat with me and my wife and explained and laid the case out. And in the conversations through it all, he began to say ‘we know who it was but we can’t prove it. I’m not sure that we’ll ever be able to prove it’. And I said, ‘are you telling me that this man can get away with this?’ ‘That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I don’t know that we can prove this’. And I gotta tell you, it was disturbing to me. It made me struggle in my faith. God how can this be? You sovereign over all things, how can this be? You cannot allow this to happen? But I came through it. I resolved it. And I came through it with this understanding; God I trust you and I believe that you settle all accounts and though this man can get away with this in the courts of earth he will not get away with it in the courts of heaven and all accounts are settled by You. I have peace. I trust you oh Lord to settle all accounts. And peace came.
A few months ago, many of you know the story because it was in the news, he called me one day and he said, ‘you won’t believe it. He confessed to the whole thing’. And I said, ‘oh that’s wonderful; he will be held into account for what he’s done’. And he began to describe how it all came together and he said, ‘you know, all the planets had to align just so’. I said, ‘really, that’s how it is? I see it a little differently’. And he said, ‘yes I see the point’. God orders our steps and I have to believe that we live and we move and we have our being before the Lord and that we need to trust Him. He orders our way. He is the One, by faith, that settles all matters.
I remember when I was in my early twenties, another example, I had agreed to a particular business arrangement. It was with a Christian brother. However, a few months later, my business attorney was reviewing all of this and he was saying ‘did you agree to this?’ I said ‘yeah I gave my word’. He said, ‘you can’t do that. That’s not legal for you to agree to that’. I said, ‘really I didn’t know that’. He said, ‘you need to go and make this right’. So I called the brother and said ‘hey, my attorney is telling me this is not legal; we need to make it right, adjustments need to be made’. And he said, ‘hey, you gave your word. And as a brother I hold you to your word’. I said, ‘you know what, you’re right. I did give my word and I will gladly hold to my word. Regardless of whether it’s legal or not I’ll hold to my word on one condition. I’m asking you one thing, would you just pray for three days? And at the end of three days, whatever God gives you peace to do, I will do whatever you say. As long as you would say to me I have peace before the Lord this is what I must do, I’ll do whatever you say’. He says, ‘that’s fair enough’. Three days later, he called me and said, ‘I’ve been praying and God is telling me let’s make this right’.
II. Win the Person, not the Argument
Yes, Lord. He orders the way. He moves on hearts. We need to trust Him because He is giving us a principle of spiritual maturity, be willing to be wrong but what He’s telling us is that relationships are important. In other words, win the person not the argument. Win the person, not the argument. See when you think of the perspective of being willing to be wronged, you are saying that relationships are more important. You see, God is showing us the fall here, that we’re brothers. Relationships matter. We can’t take stuff with us to heaven but we can take relationships with us to heaven. Jesus says, ‘lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal’. He’s talking about relationships, the way be bless, the way we relate, the way we resolve.
In Mathew 5:9, Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those who make peace. For they shall be called sons of God”, what does that mean? Sons of God yeah because they’re like their father. He makes peace. He is our peace. My peace I give to you. The peace that reigns is the peace that God gives because we have that maturity of faith. Here is another one Romans 12 verses 17 to 18; “Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men”. Now, I love that verse, because it shows us the ways of spiritual maturity. He says as far as it depends on you, in other words, you go as far as you can go, that shows your spiritual maturity, you go as far as you can go to be at peace with all men. Although, I am really thankful he puts them in place ‘if possible’. Because frankly some people are impossible and so He gives us that little qualifier but he says you go as far as you can go. Demonstrate your maturity. If you’re the kind of person who has to win every argument, you’ve already lost because you’re gonna have a really hard time maintaining a relationship. See winning doesn’t actually resolve a conflict it only postpones it for the next chapter. That chapter is called getting even. And the next chapter after that is getting even back to you. And it goes on and on until it’s amped up.
A. Out grace and out love
He says wait, I want to show you a way, it’s grace. And it’s captured this way, out grace and out love. See I love that phrase. It really captures a great truth.
See the problem with insisting on winning an argument is that it makes the other person a loser. You won they lost. But grace is more powerful because it may well bring the resolve. It may well bring the peace and you may very well win your brother over. That’s powerful. You know last year we had a leader’s conference here at the church. Periodically we like to draw all of our leaders both campuses all ministries every leader we have, bring everybody together. We want to be on the same page we want to agree on the principles that will guide our leading. And one of the principles that we bring up is if someone was to have an issue against us, if someone was to come against us with some complaints or some issue, then they’re gonna have to out grace us and out love us in order to defeat us, because our weapons of choice are grace and love. That’s the way of God. That’s the ways of principles of maturity.
Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word just stirs it up.” You bring a harsh word, you bring a contentious word. You see grace is a powerful weapon. That’s a hard thing to do to try to put grace and weapon in the same sentence. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but are divinely powerful. Why can it be called a weapon? Because it may well undo your enemy. But instead of defeating him, you make him a brother. Now that is powerful. That’s why it is such a wonderful concept for us to grasp. It resolves and it takes an enemy and makes him a brother. But grace is not just a strategy, it’s a quality of character. And it is a quality of character that God finds very honorable, highly honored of God. That is a powerful understanding. It’s honorable, godly, highly praised, highly valued; the blessing of God is all over it. Grace is the quality of the spiritually mature. Mere men are divisive, contentious and they hold onto hurts and faults. Mere men, what do you mean by mere men? What does the word ‘mere men’ mean? Mere men means only men, they’re just men, just women, they’re just only men. Well, in contrast to what? Spiritual men, spiritual women; led by the Spirit directed by the words of God and the principles of His word, not mere men.
Mere men are divisive and contentious. Here is a great verse Proverbs 26:21 “Like charcoal to hot embers, like wood to fire, so is the contentious man to kindle strife”. Strife he just throws gas on it. But the spiritually mature, they put grace on it. What is the difference when you throw gas on it or you throw grace on it? Beautiful picture
Second Timothy 2 verses 24 to 26, a wonderful verse to give us a picture of spiritual maturity. “The Lords’ bond servant must not be quarrelsome but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged. That’s good, patient when wronged with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition. If perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, And they come to their senses”, I love that phrase, “and escape from the snares of the devil having being held captive by him to do his will”. This is a powerful set of verses. What a great picture for us. Don’t be quarrelsome he says, be kind, let it be the mark of who you are. People can trust your kindness; they know what they’re going to get. Kindness, able to teach, patient when wrong, oh is that good. You know how many people are when they’re wronged. There are a lot of things in this world that are wrong, unfair, unjust. Many people are wronged and boy do they react, ‘that’s not right’. He says, be patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition. Perhaps, God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth. What is he showing us?
B. Grace is a powerful way to lead
Be willing to be wronged because grace is a powerful way to lead. Now it is a powerful way to live, but it’s a powerful way to lead. Now why do I say that? Because spiritually mature one’s are the ones who must lead. We don’t want spiritually immature one’s to lead, that is gonna get us in a big lot of trouble. We want the mature ones to lead, who have understood grace, who have understood the principles of wisdom. It’s a powerful way to lead. It’s a mark of maturity and those who are mature must lead by their example, by their heart, by their character. See, the problem, that many people have, is struggling to understand how to bring grace and love into a conflict so that the matter is settled. They understand grace and love when things are going well, but how do you bring grace and love into a conflict and settle the matter? The answer is this; speak the truth.
Speak the truth with love. Truth by itself is harsh. Can you imagine standing before the throne of the living God and the only thing that was spoken about you was truth? I’m sorry, that is a harsh reality. But when it is truth with grace, thank you Lord. When there is truth with love, thank you Lord. Truth is powerful; Jesus said, “I am the way I am the truth and life. He who abides in my word will know the truth and the truth will set you free. And he who the son sets free is free indeed”.
Ephesians 4:15, “speaking the truth in love we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head in Christ”. Great verse. Speaking of truth and love we have to grow up, grow all of us no matter what age, are called to grow in this maturity, speak the truth in love. Here is a word Jesus gave in John 13 verses 34 to 35; “a new commandment I give to you that you love one another even as I have loved you that you also love one another. And by this, all men will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another”. What does this mean- disciple? It’s a student one that is learning one that is being taught. Jesus says, by this love that they will know that you’ve been taught by Me, they’ll see it. They’ll see the difference that it makes in your life. They will see in you an uncommon love. Look at this love, it’s a powerful love. It’s a gracious love. It’s an honorable love. That’s just like the Lord. He’s been taught by Jesus. He is a student of the Lord. Look at the difference in His life.
What a difference it makes. A commandment though, is this actually a commandment? So one might say, ‘did Jesus really give commandments? I mean like commandments, like commandments? I knew there were commandments in the Old Testament, but are there commandments in the New Testament? I don’t like the word commandment, it sounds so command like, it’s so inconvenient’. But Jesus said, I give you a new commandment. This is not if you feel. I am telling you now, as my student, as one learning from Me, I tell you now, I direct your way, I give you commandment. You love one another. I’m telling you, you love one another even as I have loved you. How did He love us? He gave Himself for us. You see that wonderful principle, I have so far to go, yes, we all do and what we need is this.
C. More of Him and less of me
More of Him and less of me, that’s what we need. More of him and less of me. You know the greatest obstacle to spiritual maturity, the greatest obstacle to resolving division and conflict with the maturity in Christ, you know what the greatest obstacle is, is when there is too much me. There is too much of my pride, there is too much of my hurt feelings, they get in the way of peace. Too much in me, hurt feelings, emotions, pride, they are in the way. What we need is more of Him, more of His principles, more of His grace, more of His way, more of His wisdom, more of His spirit, more of His truth, more of His life. We need way more of Him, and we need way less of us, ‘cause we’re in the way.
The problem is emotions. Emotions. Emotions of hurt pride, emotions of anger and hurt. You know, I’m convinced that emotions are a wonderful gift. God gave us emotions that we might emotionally respond to him. Ever go down to the beach, you know at sunset, and the waves are lapping at your feet, and the sun is setting and the sky is on fire with reds and yellows and purples, and you just stand in awe, God you are amazing. God gave us emotions, beautiful. Go out at night, look at the stars, God, look at this, your omnipotence, your omniscience. Ever been in worship and the Holy Spirit has just come upon you in power, and your heart is being broken and your soul open before the lord, oh God take hold of my life, and the spirit is come upon you and you’re almost crying because the spirit touches you so deeply. Emotions, wonderful, what a gift, but emotions were meant to minister, to serve, they were never meant to master us. Don’t allow those things to become your masters. In fact, this is what Paul says, just a few verses later in the chapter First Corinthians 6:12, “all things are lawful for me but I will not be mastered by anything”. I love this.
I will not be mastered by anything. I will not be mastered by my pride. I will not be mastered by my anger. I will not be mastered by my hurt feelings. I will not be mastered by your immaturity. I will not be mastered by anything. I’ll be mastered by my Master. It’s a question of faith. Godly results require Godly ways. The principles of wisdom that he gives us here, so powerful, so practical, so effective, but we need to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit move.
Oh God, I need to have more of You and less of me. Father, thank you for Your Word that transforms our lives. You show us the way that’s higher, that’s better, that’s more powerful, that’s godly, that’s honorable. God we want that, we want that transformation; we want that renewing of the mind but we know this is a work that You do. This is the work of the Spirit. This is the work of maturity that comes from the move of God. And Church, this morning would you open your heart? Would you open your heart and say, ‘oh Lord, I want that kind of maturity’? I want that maturity, I want that Holy Spirit move of God to transform my thinking, and my mind, my ways. God I want that kind of maturity seen; I want to love like that. I want to have that kind of grace. Show me your ways Lord; I want it. Just raise your hand, and say it to the Lord, would you? Powerfully, powerfully moved of God please show us Your ways. I want that maturity. Thank you, oh God, you are moving by Your Spirit; You’re touching us, You’re transforming us, You are showing us today that Your ways are higher and we want them. Transform us today in Jesus name and everyone said, Amen.
1 Corinthians 6:1-8 NASB
1 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent toconstitute the smallest law courts? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? 4 So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, 6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.