- Sermon Notes
UNITY OR CONFLICT
There’s some interesting statistics published about Marriage, like most things, they vary depending on the source.
• In 1946 it was published that 1 in 5 marriages or 20%, made it to their 50th Anniversary.
• Today, generally speaking, most studies and law reviews list divorce rates in the US at 50% with all kinds of causes blamed on men or women.
• The US is ranked 4th in the world for rates and the average has been about 8 years for quite some time.
Top Reason – Arguments and unresolved conflict rank as a top reason for divorce in our country.
For those of us who would define both husband and wife as people of faith, specifically evangelical, the rate is < 35%.
It’s my opinion that two people rarely figure out how to handle conflict.
People will and do have disagreements. It’s what happens next that matters.
It doesn’t matter whether you are married, choosing unity over conflict is built on the truth of the scriptures.
Sherri and I have made it our practice 38 years of marriage to agree that the Relationship is always more important than being right.
That takes maturity in Christ because our flesh doesn’t like to lose or say I’m sorry, or…I’m sorry, will you forgive me!
Unhealthy patterns of arguing ruin relationships.
Our passage along with some basic principles that work will help us resolve to practice unity over conflict in our relation-ships – all relationships.
This is basic theology on relationships –
v15 speaking the truth in love
• Not just truth
• Not just love
• But truth in love = Life
I. God loves life giving relationships
Perhaps another way to see this is that God wants us to demonstrate patience for one another which leads to resolu-tions – not a ceasefire.
Some people choose not to resolve a conflict, they choose to go on from one ceasefire to the next.
Illustration of the Stamp Book.
Colossians 3:13; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
Somebody or both of you need to take responsibility and say, “I was wrong” – it’s not good enough to simply say, “well, she or he knows I was wrong.”
If you practice asking each other for forgiveness you will have healthy fruit in your relationships & marriage. – Again, you have to say it.
• And keep saying it until the other one says, “YES, I will forgive you.”
• If you are a Christian, the only acceptable response is “yes, I forgive you.”
Luke 17:3-4; Be on your guard! If your brother sins, re-buke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
That’s how you resolve conflict, even some that have yet to happen.
Without forgiveness, it’s not really settled.
A. It’s not dark yet, is it?
Ephesians 4:26; Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
I’ve often asked couples in conflict, how much are you will-ing to fight for your marriage, for your family, for the Gospel?
• Why would you allow the Devil, our enemy, to steal your joy?
1 Peter 5:8; Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adver-sary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Is anger a sin – no, not in and of itself – but it puts us on the edge for sure to act out or say something that grieves the Spirit in us. So be very careful.
Proverbs 15:18; A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.
It’s so important to back off a conflict, cool off if that’s what it takes – but don’t let the day end that way.
Why – The marriage bedroom should be a place of refuge, of peace – of unity, never of conflict.
Because the next day is much harder to talk about yester-day’s conflict.
You wake up – coffee smells like cold war – it’s simply not easy to discuss yesterday’s conflict – Do it before bed!
B. Christian conflicts have ground rules
Our passage tells us we are being equipped for service, to build up the Body of Christ – a maturing process we should embrace and welcome in our relationships.
One should not use words like, “never” or “always.”
• No headway towards resolution will be achieved.
• I will gladly remind you that God Himself would not speak that way – why should or why would we?
Ephesians 4:29; Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edifica-tion according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
When people say absolute words like never or always in the midst of being critical, there is no place to go – no way to honor God in reaching a resolution.
Another ground rule; stay on the issue and talk about that issue – not several other ones.
• Arguments are famous for getting off subject.
A third ground rule; you can’t bring up things forgiven in a new conflict – I call those inadmissible.
• It’s already forgiven
• See why it’s so important to resolve conflicts with forgiveness?
Psalm 103:12; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Hebrews 10:17; “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
II. Forgiveness – A Way of Life
Forgiveness has to be a way of life if you are committed to having successful relationships.
• Ruth Graham – “a good marriage is made up of two good forgivers.”
• Don’t keep score
• How many times do you have to or get to for-give?
Matthew 18:21-22; Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
A. Our differences are God’s handiwork
• My wife Sherri was a gift from God to me for marriage.
• Did we have many differences? – Yes, many.
• Did we know that I would ask her for forgiveness far more times than she would ask me? – No
• But God molded her into a peacemaker, a wonderfully forgiving woman. What a blessing – What a responsibility for me.
Isaiah 64:8; But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.
B. Celebrate our differences
We all have differences – I’ve learned to call them God’s marks of ownership.
Choosing unity over conflict in the midst of our differences is a choice we all make frequently. Are you choosing wisely?
Ephesians 2:10; For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before-hand so that we would walk in them.
Don’t sacrifice the unity of the spirit, the unity of the Body of Christ; v2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love…
C. Be above the deceitfulness of storms
We are all living in the midst of storms – not only Covid-19.
Don’t let the storms in our midst distract us from the truth given to us in v5-6; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
Would you take on the challenge tonight and be praying for His wisdom and grace to help you, particularly in your relationships or marriage. It will transform who you are.
Whether you find yourself in a rough patch now or some-time in the future – with a spouse – with a brother or sister – with a best friend –
Read, pray and dwell on I Corinthians 13:4-7 – read it as a follower of Jesus, because a follower will be more deliberate about pursuing His best.
• Allow the King of Kings to dwell in your relation-ships.
• These verses today bring us face to face with our God who desires for Unity, not Conflict – Healing, not Brokenness – Love, not any form of Hate.
I Corinthians 13:4-7; Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Ephesians 4:1-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore [a]it says,
“When He ascended on high,
He led captive a host of captives,
And He gave gifts to men.”
9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what [b]does it mean except that He also [c]had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the [d]saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the [e]knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature [f]which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 [g]As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness [h]in deceitful scheming; 15 but [i]speaking the truth in love, [j]we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,