Friday, October 4, 2013
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If you live in a place like Florida for example, this word probably doesn't mean much to you—winter, cold, or furnace. See, during the summer you don't give your furnace a thought, but in the winter up north it makes life bearable. That's why when we lived in New Jersey I was not a very happy camper when I woke up and felt a very cold nose coming out of the covers. (No, I didn't sleep with a dog...it was my nose!) And I felt a cold floor under my feet where there was no carpet. And then I would peek out the window and see a very low temperature out there.
Now, my first stop was the furnace downstairs. If it's wasn't working I knew what to do. I called our family doctor. You say, "What? You don't call..." No, that's right, I didn't call the doctor. I called our neighbors and told them the furnace wasn't working. You say, "Wait a minute, what good does that do?" No, I called the newspaper delivery boy and said, "My furnace isn't working!" I called the post office and said, "Hey, can you fix my furnace?" You say, "Ron, none of those calls will help. Call the furnace man!" I did.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Tell the Person Who Can Fix It."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Matthew chapter 5. We begin at verse 23. Jesus said, "If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember your brother has something against you, leave your gift..." He says forget the religious stuff. Don't do your spiritual thing. No, "...leave your gift in front of the altar. First, (In other words, before you do your thing with God), go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift."
There's a parallel passage in Matthew 18:15, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over." It talks about involving other people from the church if that doesn't work. But the pattern is the same in both cases; go straight to the person. Now, we're not talking about a furnace here, but we're talking about a relationship that's not working. And Jesus addresses one of these dark corners of human nature.
We've got this tendency to talk to everyone about the problem we have with this person except the person we have the problem with. And that sin divides families, it divides friends, it divides churches, it divides ministries, and maybe you are in the middle of one of those poisonous situations right now. Jesus says there's only one way to go when you have a problem with another person - straight to that person.
We'd rather gripe to other people; we'd rather gather support for our side, get sympathy, form some power block of people who agree with us, and give the Devil an open door he can drive a truck through. The irony is that none of those other people can fix what's wrong. The problem you've got is with this person.
Now, we know it would be dumb to tell the letter carrier about our cold furnace, or the garbage man. Wouldn't that make you ask, "Hey, do you just want to gripe or do you want a solution?" Then why do we go to all the wrong people when there's a break in a relationship or some hurt? Going to the person involved is the only way it can really be fixed. You can be a relationship radical if you'll covenant to go direct in a world that would rather gossip and backstab.
You can be an agent of real love and real peace if you always stay away from the back room, the back-biting, and you speak directly to that other person. That other person? They may respond or they may not respond, but you have done the only thing Jesus can bless, and you can sleep well tonight.
So, whether it's a furnace, a family member or a friend, tell the person who can fix it.