Healing Relationships (02) - Self Examination and Defining Offenses

Date: 3/8/2015
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Type: Sunday Sermon
Organization: All Saints
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Sermon: Healing Relationships (02): Self-Examination and Defining Offenses

Healing Relationships - A Spiritual Discipline - During this Lenten Season, we will consider the theme of Healing Relationships. Repentance (as a Lenten theme) requires relational healing with God and people. My goal is that every person in All Saints will be faithful in these processes and even a resource to others. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16, NIV). Let us strive to keep our consciences clear before God and man in order to facilitate healing relationships. Jesus taught that there is no more foundational pursuit than peace through personal reconciliation (Mt. 5:23ff,6:14, 18:1ff). “If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Mt. 6:15). Following Christ, you must live at peace with others, granting forgiveness and seeking to be forgiven by those whom you have wronged. Resolve to live in peace because you have peace through Christ (Rom. 5:1; 12:18).

Healing Relationships - Self-Examination - Jesus calls us to self-examination, especially prior to confronting others in Matthew 7:3–4: “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?” Reflecting on our part in personal conflicts is necessary. This is the discipline of keeping a “blameless conscience.” It leads us to a) acknowledge our own sins, b) to see bitterness, and in so doing, c) provide a closer meeting point for healing (even if the other party has wronged you). Bitterness is a result of “taking offense.” Jim Wilson (How to be Free from Bitterness) said, “Guilt is what we feel when we sin, and bitterness is what we feel when others sin against us.” Bitterness is a cancer of close proximity  . . . and can drag us to hell. Have you examined yourself? Is your conscience clear?

Healing Relationships - Defining an Offense - Very often the procedure of reconciliation either never gets started or stalls in the process because of the failure to properly define the nature of the offense(s). What is a proper basis for “taking offense”? Could it be a difference of opinion, irritations, annoyances, failures of others? Before accusing others, define their offense(s) biblically. An offense is a cause or occasion of sin, a “stumbling block” (scandalon, Mt. 5:29ff, 16:23, 18:6). Properly “taking offense” requires the following: a) That another person violates the Law of God making you the victim of such sin. b) A true offense must be confirmed with proper evidence. Jesus applies this rule in Matthew 18:16. It is required that “two or three witnesses” confirm every fact (Dt. 19:15, Matt. 18:16). Judgment should not be rendered until the facts are confirmed. Differences of opinion, irritations, annoyances, failures of others, etc. are not true offenses against you and thus do not justify your criticism, cynicism or condemnation. Do have something against another person? Is it a biblical offense?

Healing Relationships - Summary - Step Two: Examination Yourself - Identify causes of bitterness conscientiously in self-examination. Keep a blameless conscience. Confess any failures leading to this breach to those to whom it is due. Step Three: Offenses Defined - Define offenses clearly and biblically. Before accusing or judging others, define their offense(s) biblically: a) that another person violated the Law against you and b) this sin is confirmed with proper evidence.

Action Steps
Know the Six Principles of Reconciliation that Heal Relationships: PEOPLE
1) Pursue Peace
2) Examine Yourself
3) Offenses Defined
4) Process Offenses (1 or 2)
5) Listen in Confrontation
6) Exercise a Renewed Mind to Restore Trust

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more