Thursday, November 8, 2012
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All right, what famous TV personality said these words: "I love trash." All right, Sesame Street fans, yep, Oscar the Grouch, who even lived in a trash can.
Now listen, I've got a few idiosyncrasies; not nearly as many as everybody else I know, but one of those is that it's very important to me that my trash gets picked up once a week. I try to be faithful in getting it out to the street like I'm supposed to on the day it's supposed to be there. What if the trash man doesn't come one week? What if he didn't come for two weeks? What should I do about that?
What if my approach to that problem were to go and tell all my neighbors, "My trash wasn't picked up!" Oh, and then the guy that delivers the mail; he comes up and I say, "Do you know what? That trash man didn't come and pick up my trash!" And I call my pastor and say, "Pastor, I'm not getting my trash picked up!" And the checkout girl while I'm at the grocery store; you know, she should know about this too. Oh, and when I get gas, you know what? I'm going to tell the guy at the gas station. "That guy didn't pick up my trash!"
You'd say, "Ron, aren't you missing a pretty obvious step here?" Well, yeah. I forgot to talk to the only person who can explain why it's not there; I didn't talk to the only person who can change it-the trash man. You say, "Ron, that's stupid." Yeah, but I've just described our standard procedure for handling problems between Christians.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Going Direct."
Okay, our word for today from the Word of God about going direct is found in Matthew 5:21-24. You may recognize this as coming from The Sermon on The Mount and Jesus is speaking. "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder,' and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."
Now, what Jesus is saying here basically is, "Don't come to Me until you've talked to your brother." That's interesting isn't it? He says, "Even though you're bringing a sacrifice in your hands, which is the holiest thing that a Jew could do at that time, even though you're coming to worship Me, you and I don't have much to talk about until you've gotten that conflict-that tension-squared away with your brother."
You remember what I said about telling everyone about the trash man and my problem with him? That's really how we handle problems with each other. We go talk to everybody else about it except the person there's the problem with. We take all sorts of evasive action to avoid confronting someone. Oh, we're subtle about it, we ask for prayer, "Lord, you know...", "Please pray for me will you?", "Ask the Lord about this." And of course we get into sanctified gossip with our prayer requests sometimes, or we just unload it on our friends. We complain, we keep score, we sputter that he should know better. Have you talked to the person who has hurt you? Have you talked to the person maybe that you have hurt?
You say, "Well, if they'll make the first move." Jesus doesn't say that. He says, "You make the first move." You'll be surprised - if you'll just talk to them - by the reasons for their actions. Maybe you have totally misinterpreted their actions. It may clear up all kinds of misunderstanding; it could get rid of the growing cancer of bitterness inside of you. Even if they don't respond, you have dealt with the bitterness and anger that the Bible says causes you to forfeit the grace of God. And most of all, even if it doesn't resolve the relationship, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you've done it Jesus' way. You have obeyed.
One of the most disobeyed commandments of Jesus is to settle it with your brother. I think we ought to be asking each other, when someone comes to us with a problem about another person, "Have you talked to them? Have you talked to the real person involved?" Because when it comes to healing broken relationships, don't go to any more outsiders. Go direct!