Andy Stanley - Back To You
As you know, most of the things that require assembly, like if you purchase something that you have to put together, it always comes with instructions, assembly instructions, and those are helpful. If it's a toy right or furniture, or one time I purchased, I made the mistake of purchasing a grill instead of getting the grill already assembled, I thought I'm just going to buy the box. I can do this and go home and do this and I saved $50. And by the time the grill was almost finished, Sandra would have paid someone $250 if I had just paid somebody else to put the grill together, because it was kind of a disaster. But the point being the grill, anything that you purchase to assemble, it comes with assembly instructions, but they never include fix it instructions. Instead, they include these, you see this all the time, right? We've included a troubleshooting guide. A troubleshooting guide. Which for me, is generally worthless because the trouble that they are shooting is never the trouble I'm actually having, right?
But generally speaking, we are far better at assembling things than we are at fixing them. And that includes relationships as well. We're good at starting relationships, we're pretty good at maintaining relationships, but when a relationship breaks or when a relationship gets awkward or there's that silence there's that distance, oftentimes we just aren't sure what to do, but that doesn't stop us from doing something. We try to fix them. And oftentimes we do it the wrong way.
So last week we took a look at what I would consider the traditional intuitive ways of fixing a broken relationship. And I referred to it as the C4 approach to relationship management, because people love to be managed. No they don't, but that's kind of the mode we go into and the four tools in the toolkit for the C4 approach to relationship management are convince, convict, coerce, and control. Convince, convict, coerce, and control. These are the four C's that we just reach for intuitively when the relationship isn't going well. And when we feel like we need to do something to fix it, these are the tools we reach for first. And I'll tell you why we reach for these tools first, because we're crazy, all right. And the reason I say that is those things don't work on us and they don't work on anybody else, but we keep working them any way.
And as I shared with you last time, my go-to is this first one, is convince. There's just something in me that feels like if we're having a relationship problem, if I can just get in front of you and give you a whole lot of information, you're going to go, "Oh, I'm convinced I was wrong. You're right". And then you were going to go on our merry way and our relationship is going to be fixed, which is ridiculous. But it's just what I naturally lean into, right? In fact, my greatest regret in life actually relates to this. I was responsible for caring for my mom for the last 10 or 12 years of her life. And I was so happy to do that. And I love my mom, but my mom could be, and she's probably listening, she could be stubborn and I'm not saying my mom was stubborn. I'm just saying she could be stubborn. Okay.
The point being, when she made up her mind, her mind was made up. It was just made up. And because I was responsible for her and I'm trying to make the best decisions for her. And of course, if it's a decision I feel like I should make for her. I'm convinced this is the best decision. And when she would just kind of shut down and just refuse to cooperate, you know, I would just lean in and just more information and convince, convince, convince, and convince. And this all kind of escalated to the point, one day I'm at her house. I'm sitting in a chair in her sitting room with her. I remember exactly where I was, how this happened, and we're not facing each other. We're kind of like this. And I'm leaning over, just saying "Mom," and I don't even remember what the issue was, but I'm just trying to convince her. And she leans over and she puts her hand right on my wrist and she looks at me and smiles.
And she says, "Andy, I just need you to love me". I know that's exactly right. It's like all the energy drained out, all the anger, all the frustration. I'm like, that's right. She doesn't want me to convince her of things, she just wants me to love her. And of course there is something in my mind that said, "Well, this is," you know, I wanted to go right back to, "I'm going to convince you that this is how I'm loving you by, you know," and she said "Andy, I just need you to love me". So that was mine. And chances are, you kind of have a go-to one as well. I mean, convict, this is the shame and blame one, right? This is after all I've done for you, after all I've done for you, after all the opportunities I've given you in this organization, after all the money I loaned you, after all the things I've put up with, I'm just going to remind you of all the things I've done, and you're going to feel so shamed and so guilty. You're just going to melt. And then our relationship is going to be restored. Like, who are we kidding. Or coerce and control. They're sort of two sides of the same coin. The point is we have a tendency to go there.
Now, all four of these things have something in common. And what all four have in common is what the person or people on the other side of these are feeling. And do you know what it feels like to be on the other side of any one of these or all four of these? It always feels the same way. It feels like this. It feels like rejection, rejection. And do you know what what's kryptonite to a relationship? Rejection. Rejection is kryptonite. Rejection is kryptonite even when you're right. Here's what I mean by that. Even when you are convincing and you are convincing for all the right reasons, with all the right information, even when you're coercing and you're trying to coerce them in the right direction, even when you're controlling and you're controlling with their best interest in mind, it's still rejection and it has the same outcome. It closes hearts. It makes people less accessible to us emotionally. And ultimately, and this is what's so crazy, it undermines our influence. But do you know what everybody wants? Same thing you want. I want agenda free. I just want you to like me for me. I just want to feel accepted.
Now, we all know all of that. It's is not even worth writing any of that down, right? But for some reason, when it comes to managing current relationships or specifically fixing a broken one, it's like we forget all of that. Which means it just shouldn't be that difficult to repair a relationship, but it is. Number one, we've covered. Number one, we're crazy. But number two, the real reason this is so difficult is because reassembling a broken relationship is a learned skill. And we come into this world unlearned and some of us are never taught. And some of us have never even seen it modeled. Your mom or your dad or an aunt or uncle, they've been out of sorts with another family member for years and years and years. And you're like, "Just call him," "Just call her". It seems so simple from the outside looking in. So some of us, we've just never seen this done and no one ever taught us how to do it.
So today we are going to continue a discussion on this topic because today is part two of our series, Re-assembly Required: A Beginner's Guide. And it's just the beginner's guide, there's way more to say about this then we'll say in this series. A Beginner's Guide to Repairing Broken Relationships. Now the good thing about us and the thing that we have going for us is that for the most part, all of you, all of us, most people in the world want to be reconciled or want the relationships to be fixed or reassembled. I mean, we don't like the tension. We don't like living with the guilt. We don't like pretending. We hear ourselves telling our sad story and people are shaking their heads about, "Yeah, you should be angry and you should be the way you are and you should be distanced from them". And then we walk away and sometimes we just feel kind of sick on the inside. Like, what is that in me that just can't let this go. And one of the reasons that there's a tension that never quite goes away, no matter how justified maybe we feel like we are is that we're only as happy, and again, this is something we don't normally put words around, but this is all of our experience, we are only as happy as our core relationships are healthy.
This is sort of the happiness factor that we're never, generally speaking, we are never any happier than our core relationships. The most important relationships to us are healthy or you can put it this way, we're only as content, we're only as content as our core relationships are mutually satisfying. And you know this personally, or you know this from your family history, that broken relationships, broken relationships, they take a toll on us, right? Broken relationships, especially core relationships, take a toll on our mental, our emotional, and at times even our physical health. In other words, "Sir, your problems stem from your healthy relationships with your parents and siblings," said no counselor ever, right? I mean, this is never the root of a problem. This is the root of emotional and often physical and psychological health.
So when we started the series last time, we set some expectations and it's super important to reset those expectations before we dive into this first decision that we have to make, and this is especially important when it comes to reassembling or repairing or fixing relationships with another adult. And we said this, we said the goal of reassembly, the goal is actually not reconciliation. The goal is not reconciliation, which sounds strange because that's what the whole series is about. The goal, our personal goal, is actually no regret. And if you were here last time you'll remember, the reason we can't say the goal is reconciliation, is you should never set a goal for another adult. You can have a dream or a hope or a wish for another adult, but you don't set goals for other adults because goals are an agenda. And when it comes to the reassembling or fixing a broken plate or a broken anything we've purchased, we have access to all the pieces. We have control of the process. But when it comes to reassembling or fixing a relationship with another person, we don't have access to all the parts.
So our goal isn't reconciliation, our hope and our prayer is reconciliation. But the goal, the parts we have control over, and this is why the four C's don't work. The four C's assume you have, and I have control over all the parts and we get so frustrated when it doesn't work, but it's because we're not fixing a plate and we're not fixing a bicycle. We're trying to fix a relationship with another individual person. So the goal has to be no regrets. The goal is to know, "You know what? I did everything in my power. I did everything I could do to keep the door open, to put the welcome mat out, to make sure that emotionally my drawbridge is down, to make sure that I removed every obstacle I could possibly remove, that I've done everything I can do to take the pressure off the other person". And again, we know from experience that those four C's, they always make that worse. So the temptation is to do this, to say, "You know what? Well, if convincing is my handle, if convincing is my go-to, Then you know what? I'm going to try not to be so convincing. And if I find that I'm sort of coercive and that I'm manipulative, you know what I'm going to try not to be so coercive and manipulative".
So the temptation is to say, "Well, you know what? I'm going to decide not to do those four things," but, and again, this is why this is so tricky, those are not decisions. I'm not saying they're not decisions, they're decisions, but those are not decisions. I'm deciding not to be so controlling. I'm deciding not to be so coercive. I'm deciding not to do something. But a decision, and this is true in every area of life, a decision not to do something is not enough to get something done. And so to reassemble a broken relationship requires some decisions, but it requires more than deciding what I'm not going to do. It requires at least, I think, four proactive decisions. And these decisions don't guarantee reconciliation, right? Because we don't have control over all the pieces, but they pave the way potentially toward reconciliation. I'm going to give you one today.
And if you're not a Christian or not a Jesus follower, I think you're going to find this helpful. And I would suggest you at least embrace some of these ideas because it will certainly make your life better. But for those of us who claim to be Christians, for those of us who attempt every day to get up and follow Jesus, this is required because Jesus' marching orders for us is to do for others what God through Christ has done for us in all things, including our relationships. As we looked at last week, the Apostle Paul just puts it right out there when he wrote these words, he said, "In your relationships," like all your relationships, "In your relationships with one another," and this is such a high bar, isn't it, "I want you to have the same mindset or the same perspective or the same attitude. I want you to embrace the same approach to relationships as Christ Jesus, your Lord".
And regardless of how faithful you are or how much faith you have, if you decide, or if we decide, when I decide to take this seriously, the temptation is to kind of tap the brakes because if you know anything about Jesus and the gospels, and if you know anything about the journey of Jesus through the gospels, you recognize pretty quickly that Jesus was actually the offended party and yet he made the first move to reconcile with us. And he didn't humble himself and invite us to coffee, you know. He humbled himself, all said, by taking the form of a servant by becoming one of us and laying down his life to pay for our sins. Because from his perspective, the big obstacle between in terms of reconciling with us and mankind and with the world, the big obstacle was sin. And it was an obstacle we couldn't do anything about. And God was so committed to reconciling with you and reconnecting with you that God made the first move through his son to remove the obstacle of sin. Not just so he could forgive us, but so he could reconcile with us, which means, and again, this is where we kind of tap the brakes, it's like, "Hey, I'm not really sure I'm ready for this, because hey Andy, if you heard my story, if people heard my story, you'd understand why. I'm not so sure I can go there".
And you know, you do what I do long enough, and do whatever a lot of you do long enough and you hear those stories, appreciate those stories, they're heartbreaking stories, but adopting the same mindset as Christ Jesus requires us to accept that reassembly always begins with us, regardless of who initiated the fuss. And it's cutesy, but you know, it's concerning. It means that essentially, even if it's their fault, even if it's 100% their fault, even if they're the ones that walked away, that if there's going to be reconciliation, if there's going to be the hope for reconciliation or reassembling or repairing the relationship that that process begins with us. And that's hard because that's when I want to raise my hand and tell you my sad story, then you want to raise your hand and tell me your devastating story and ask for a pass, "Hey Andy, I think I get to cross my arms and wait. I think I get to forgive. I'm going to forgive, cross my arms and wait. But I don't know about moving or leaning in their direction to fix a relationship that they broke". But when we decide to wait, when we decide to wait on them, "I am going to forgive, but I'm waiting on them".
That is a form, it's so subtle, it is a form of getting back at them, which means we are more like them than perhaps we ever want to admit. And that brings us at last, to the first of these four decisions that pave the way, they don't guarantee, the first of four decisions that pave the way to reconciliation. Now, when I show you this first one, you may think, well, "I've already made that decision," and perhaps you have, but if you haven't settled this, if you haven't settled this, you will intentionally, or perhaps even unintentionally sabotage the reassembly or the repair process along the way. So this has to be decided upfront. And I think in some circumstances, we have to re-decide it over and over and over. And here's the first decision I want to challenge you to make. I will get back to, not get back at. I will get back to, I will not get back at. This is what it looks like to look like your father in heaven.
Now, the Apostle Paul is going to tease this out for us. We're going to look at something he said in his letter to Christians living in Nero's Rome. It's a passage where he's talking about relationships. And if you read it in context, or even as we look at some of these details, clearly he's talking to a group of people that were having conflict with each other inside this little community of the church. And also it's interesting to note that the Apostle Paul as best that we can tell he's never been to Rome. So he is writing this letter and he's giving them these very specific relational instructions. And he's never met these people. To which they would tend to say what we've said, "Wait a minute. How, how can you tell me how to manage my relationships? You don't even know me. You don't know what I've been through, and you don't know the circumstances that I'm trying to navigate," but the Apostle Paul leans in any way, because the point of what he's going to tell us, isn't this is what other people are doing, or this is what other people deserve for you to do for them. He's answering the question, what does it look like to embrace the mind of Christ when it comes to relationships?
And he comes in hot, here's what he says. He says, "Love must be sincere". And we're going to read a few verses that kind of end with the big takeaway in terms of this first decision. But we're kind of warming up. Paul's warming us up. Love must be sincere, which means no faking. It must be genuine, no painted on smiles, no pretending. In other words, if there is a person in your life, family or friend, you know, someone you work with and you're pretending, you're painting on the smile, you're acting like everything's fine. Paul says you probably have some work to do to. But you're like, "Yeah, but you need to hear my story". Paul's, "No, I don't wanna hear your story". You have some work to- Love must be sincere. The fact that he thinks he can tell us this without knowing our story means there might be something he knows that we don't know. In other words, we're going to end here in just a few minutes with this big idea, but to kind of give you a heads up, to tease this out, the goal is to get to the place. The goal is to get to the place where I am able to see that other person or those other persons, the way my heavenly father sees that person or those other persons. Because until I do, because they've taken something from me, they've offended me, they've hurt somebody I love. It's almost impossible to love them sincerely.
Then he introduces another big relational principle. We can spend a lot of time on this as well. He says, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil and cling to what is good". This is his way of saying, you need to reallocate your hate. It's okay to hate, but you can hate a something without hating a person. He says, "What if you did this, that person that you," and we don't use the word hate because that makes us look small and petty, right? So we don't hate anybody, you know, we hate him, right? So he says, "if you would just think about the person that," you hate him, he says, "what if you decided, 'I'm going to reallocate my hate. I'm going to decide I'm going to hate what happened, but I'm not going to hate the person. I'm going to hate what's happened to us, but I'm not going to hate the person. I'm going to hate the consequence of the the fallout of what happened to us relationally. But I'm not going to hate that person. What if we decided I'm going to hate a what, But I'm not going to hate a who.'" The Apostle Paul would say, "Now you're starting to remove obstacles. Now you're leaning in. Now you're making your way forward relationally".
And now once you do that, it will be easier for you to see and to cling to what is good. And he goes on. He says, "I want you to be devoted to one another in love. And I want you to honor one another above yourselves". And this phrase honor one another above yourself, in our home growing up with raising kids. This was the thing, honor one another. This was our rule. This was kind of the rule above all the rules. We're just going to honor one another and to honor another person is to defer to them. To honor another person is to say, "No, you first, your issue first, your question first, your observation first, you first". And if I decide again, he's saying these are the things you have control over. You can't control what they do or how they respond and you can't reverse the past, but here's what you can do. And if you choose, these are all choices, right? If you choose to honor the other person, when you honor the other person, you put the other person ahead of your pride. And I put the other person ahead of my ego.
"They come first, my pride and my ego come second. I'm not going to spend a lot of time trying to convince you anymore. I'm going to spend some time trying to understand you better". You defer. "You first, you first, you first," then verse 14, skipping a couple of verses. Again, this is all so hard. And because of first century language, this is when we skim over. It's like, "I don't even know what that means". Bless those who persecute you. Now, chances are you can't think of someone that you would use this word with, right? They're persecuting me. Now, when you're 14, 12, 13, 14, 15 living at home, yes. But you know, once you become an adult, it's hard to imagine somebody who they wake up and every time they see you, they are looking for a way to undermine your credibility, looking for a way to steal your ideas and looking for a way to make you look bad. And the Apostle Paul says, "Here's how proactive I want you to be. I want you to bless those who persecute you".
And here's what this word means. I want you to commend them. I don't want you to talk about them the way that they talk about you. Jesus said it this way. He said, "I want you to bless those who curse you". Okay? This makes no sense. In fact this doesn't even seem wise, this doesn't even, it certainly doesn't seem helpful. It just seems like that mountain is so high. That that is such a huge thing to ask anybody to do. Why is he doing this? Because Paul would say, "Because you're Jesus' follower". And this is in some ways an expression of what your heavenly father did for you. And I want you to embrace the same mindset, the same perspective on relationships that your savior has that ultimately benefited you. And again, you read this, I mean, I'm the same way, you feel like, "Wait," and you may be thinking, "Andy, I feel like you're putting all the responsibility on me," to which I would say actually, technically Paul is putting all the responsibility on all of us. And where does he get the nerve to do that again? He doesn't even know us. He did not even know the people he wrote this letter to.
To the best that we know Paul had never been to Rome. He had never been to Rome and he has the audacity to write a letter to Christians in Rome he's never met, doesn't know anything about their circumstances and says, "This is what it looks like to follow Jesus, relationally," the implication being, I know you got a sad story and I know that you are literally in Rome, literally being persecuted. But in spite of that, this is how I want you to live. This is how I want you to relate. This is how I want you to respond. This is how I don't want you to react. Then he says this, he says, "I want you to rejoice with those who rejoice and I want you to mourn with those who mourn". "Yeah, but what if I don't like them"? He says, "Well, then your light will shine even brighter". "And what if, you know, the fact that they're sad," okay this is icky, this is awful, this isn't all of us, "What if the fact that they're sad and they're mourning, what if that makes me happy? What if I actually feel like their morning is a win for me," then the Apostle Paul would say, "Well, then you have work to do".
Because if you find yourself internally celebrating someone's failure, if you find yourself internally celebrating someone's loss, you have work to do. He says, "I want you to refuse to celebrate their losses". And again, this is almost impossible to do when someone has hurt you or betrayed you or hurt one of your kids or betrayed somebody that you love and that tension, and see here here's why this is important, that tension is something we have access to. And that tension is something we can go to work on. And that tension is where God wants to go to work in all of us, he's almost done. He says, "I want you to live in harmony with one another. And I don't want you to be proud, because proud ignites and fuels all four of the C's because all four of the C's are an attempt to prove that I'm right and you're wrong. And if you would just see the world the way I see it and do what I think you ought to do, then the world would be a better place. And our relationship would be healed". He says, "No, pride's always going to get in the way". And then the payoff.
Now he brings us to the statement that takes us and introduces and sort of teases out the first of our four decisions. He says this, "And do not, do not repay anyone evil for evil. Do not repay anyone," again you want to say, "but you don't know my story". Paul's like, "I've never even met any of you, here send this to all the Christians in Rome". "Paul, how can you be so personal"? He's going, "Because this isn't about me, this isn't about what's happened to them. This is about, are we following Jesus"? And the word repay is powerful. Do not repay because the reason that we want to pay people back is because of what they've done to us and repay, it feels like this is how I get even. And of course, as we talked about before, we're trying to get even with someone we don't even like, but intuitively we want to pay them back. And again, if someone heard your story that you would perhaps be justified in trying to pay them back. It's human nature. It is human nature to want to get back at. And it's this part of our nature that the Apostle Paul, it's this part of our nature, that the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us is trying to tap down to reconfigure, to redirect so that internally we're more like our savior that internally we're more in line with what our heavenly father wants us to do.
So that externally we're actually following Jesus. It's human nature to want to get back at. But it is the will of God for all of us to get back to because that's what your heavenly father did for you. So decision number one, reassembling these broken relationships, I will get back to, not back at. And the powerful thing, and again, when you see this, you think, "Well, I've already done that". Here's why this is important. The powerful thing about this decision is that if you will make it intentionally, I'm not just not going to get back at. I'm going to actually look for a way to get back to. If you will be intentional about this decision, it will assure that you don't go half way. And do you know what halfway is to reconciliation? Halfway to reconciliation is, "I forgave her, I forgave him, I forgave, and now I'm going to wait. I forgave and now I'm going to wait".
And the Apostle Paul, and I think if you think about it, this becomes clear, forgiving and waiting? That's still back at, not back to. Because God, your heavenly father, did not stop with forgiveness. We talked about this last time. God's forgiveness was a means to an end, and reconciliation, repairing a relationship with you and with me and with the world, that was the end. And so our heavenly father moved and made the first move in our direction, not to get back at us. This is what we sing and celebrate, right? But to get back to us. And so this is what following Jesus, this is what love requires of me and this is what love requires of you. Again, you can forgive from a distance, but you cannot reconcile from there. You can forgive arm's length, but you can't reconcile from there. So would you decide? I will get back to not get back at.
Now, if someone has come to mind or maybe a group of people have come to mind and you in your heart, you know, you're like your arms are crossed, you know, I'm going to deal with my emotions and I'm going to figure out eventually how to forgive them but I don't know about moving forward. If you are tempted and we're all tempted to forgive and to wait, I want to leave you or suggest today a prayer that you pray. A specific prayer. And if you don't think that God answers prayer, you pray this prayer, God will answer this prayer. This will convince you that God answers prayer. But if there's something in you, when I show you this prayer, that pushes back, I want you to pay attention to that. And I want you to pay specific attention to what is it in you that pushes back on praying this prayer, because that's where you have some work to do. And chances are that's where God wants to go to work on you, because this is a big idea. Perhaps, just perhaps, I don't know your situation, but perhaps you haven't forgiven as thoroughly as you think you have, perhaps you haven't forgiven through all the different layers that need to be addressed in your forgiveness, in light of what has been done to you, or perhaps to somebody that you love. Which means if there is still forgiveness issues, that person or those people, they still have control over you. So here's the prayer. And let me, before I show it to you, let me tell you one other quick story about this prayer. This became a prayer I began to pray because of something specific.
Last time I told you about being in counseling with my dad and a counselor and trying to figure out our relationship and during that time, I was so angry at a whole bunch of people, all connected to the same scenario. So I'm talking to my counselor Steve one day, just the two of us. And I said, "Steve, I feel like I'm kind of going around in circles. I want to get this right. And I want to get out of this kind of gloom and doom cycle that I'm in with these people". And I said, "How will I know that I'm making any progress"? And he gave me the greatest answer. And again, it was a terrifying answer. And again, the mountain just seemed to get higher. He said, "Here's how you'll know you're making progress. When you can see that person, when you can see those people, the same way your heavenly father sees them. And when you can feel toward them, what your heavenly father feels toward them, you'll know you're making progress".
I thought, wow. So I went home and I began to pray to that end. And this was the prayer, the version of the prayer that I began praying back then. And that from time to time, I find myself praying once again. And here's the prayer. Heavenly father, I just, this is just my version, but heavenly father help me to see, then you put their name in there or maybe need several blanks, right? Help me to see him/her the way you do. When they come to mind, I want to see them and visualize them the way you see them not the way I see them, because I see them through the filter of what they've done to me and heavenly father help me to feel toward, whoever you've got your arms crossed to, help me to feel toward them what you feel. Now, here's why this is so powerful. And this is what Steve said to me when I was talking to him, he said, "Andy, do you think your heavenly father is angry with him? Do you think your heavenly father is angry with her"? And I said, "No, I don't. I am, but I don't think God's mad at them," because I was smart enough to know, most of us know, sin breaks God's heart because sin breaks people and sin breaks relationships.
So I realized there's the disconnect. I'm angry with them. My heavenly father is not angry with them. My heavenly father is angry over what's happened to us. So I haven't reallocated my hate and my anger. So I have work to do. So I began to pray this prayer, God, I'm not there yet. I want to, when they come to mind, I want to see them the way you see them. You're not angry with them. You're brokenhearted over the sin that they've committed, that I think they've committed. You're brokenhearted over the sin I've committed, that they think I've committed. You're you're broken hearted over the fact that the relationship is broken. And I want to be more brokenhearted over the fact that the relationship is broken than I am angry at them. Help me to see him, help me to see them, the way you see them.
And here's the thing I can promise you. This is why this is the prayer God will answer, is that when we feel toward them what our heavenly father feels toward them, it becomes easier to move towards them. When I finally feel towards them, what my heavenly father and your heavenly father feels towards them. Just think of that person that you're so angry with. If you begin to feel broken hearted rather than angry, then you know what happens? You think the drawbridge is down? It goes all the way down. You think the welcome mats out? It's all the way out. You think the door is open? It's all the way open. And nothing changes in the relationship, but something extraordinary changes in you. This is why this is what our heavenly father has invited us into. And as long as my arms are crossed and I forgave them and I'm waiting, God is not finished working in us and on us in this relationship. So would you decide, or would you consider deciding, I will get back to, I will not get back at. I'm not going to repay evil for evil. I'm not going to imagine, isn't that where it starts? Wouldn't that be interesting? Wouldn't that be nice?
You know, we always win those imaginary arguments with people in public and we shame them and people walk off and go, "Wow, you're right, they're wrong". I'm not even going to do that anymore. I'm going to take retribution off the table as an option, even if it comes my way. No payback, no back at. No more secretly hoping they fail, no more secretly celebrating their failure. Father, I want to get to the place that if they're mourning, I'm mourning and if they're rejoicing, I'm rejoicing and I'm not there yet, but I want you to get me there so I can lean in their direction to the place where I can, uncross my arms and move forward. So would you decide, or would you consider deciding? Or would you spend some time thinking about what you would have to do to decide to get back to, not back at. And we will pick it up right there next time in part three of Re-assembly Required, it's just a beginner's guide, A Beginner's Guide to Repairing Broken Relationships.
Before you go, three questions to talk about over lunch, over dinner, in the car. You may have to be a little careful who you discuss these or who you have this conversation with.
Question number one is this, of the four C's that we talked about, convince, convict, coerce, control, which of the four C's did your parents reach for first? Because chances are, you may have inherited their approach to conflict management, right?
Number two, what's your initial reaction to the notion? What's your emotional reaction to the notion that reconciliation begins with us, even when we're not responsible or regardless of who initiated the fuss, what's your kind of reaction to that?
And then number three, if you had to fill in the blank and the most important word here is had to, because maybe nobody comes to mind, but maybe somebody needs to come to mind, but you have so written them off and walked away. If you had to fill in the blank with someone's name, who would you put in that blank? Heavenly father help me to see them the way you see them. And would you bring me to the place that I can feel toward them what you feel toward them? The truth is sometimes reconciliation, it depends more on us than we're willing to admit. And if someone has come to mind, perhaps it's time to put that drawbridge all the way down, to open that door all the way up, put the welcome mat all the way out.
And as far as it depends on you and as far as you have control over any of the elements to pave the way for reconciliation with that person, because like your heavenly father did for you, right? It's what we sing. It's what we sing all the time. It turns out that there really is in fact, no shadow that he wouldn't light up, that there was no mountain he wasn't willing to climb up. That he was going to come after you not to punish you, but to redeem you and to reconcile you. There's no wall, remember, that he won't kick down. There's no lie he won't tear down, coming after you, coming after me. So we're Jesus' followers. And as Jesus' followers let's do unto others and let's do for others what our heavenly father has done unto and for each one of us. Let's pray together.
Heavenly Father it's so much easier to talk about than to do. It's so emotional for some of us, probably for all of us. And father, for many of us, someone came to mind and were so irritated because we thought we had put them out of our minds and out of our lives once and for all, and we've forgiven them and it's in the rear view mirror of our lives. But every once in a while, there's that thread of anger, that thread of abandonment, that thread of memory that churns in us, it stirs us up. So would you please give each of us wisdom to know what to do with what we just heard and the courage to do it in Jesus' name? Amen.