The Subject of Our Dispute


Have you ever noticed that Christians can argue among themselves just as well as non-Christians can?

We sometimes disagree with each other.  We can get upset.  We can be offended.  We can hold grudges.  We can be petty and thick-headed; we are sometimes juvenile and unreasonable.  We can harbor jealously, bitterness and even unforgiveness.  We can launch gossip, destroy relationship and even split churches.  There are times when the “love of the Father,” is nowhere to be found.

Should we be any of these things?  No – but it seems to still happen.

So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. (Ephesians 4:25-27)

Jesus speaks very clearly on how we should handle our disagreements and disputes with fellow believers.

You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment. But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” (Matthew 5:21-24)

We cannot treat our brothers and sisters in Christ in ways that are unpleasing to God and expect our relationship with God to be unaffected.  Jesus placed great importance on being reconciled to the one you have offended before bringing praise or an offering unto God. 

Jesus takes this teaching even further:

If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.

I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.

I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.

But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” (Matthew 18:15-35)

Our relationships with people are a clear revelation of our relationship with God.  If we do not treat people as Christ has commanded we do we are not communicating with the Father.  We may be speaking to Him and praying to Him but we are not communicating with Him.

If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18)

God has cancelled the debt we owe Him as a result of our sin.  Jesus blood has paid the price and He is holding nothing against us.  Every sin we have committed in thought, word deed, or omission is worthy of the judgment and punishment of a just and holy God.  Yet we stand as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus because of what has been given to us in the form of grace and mercy (truly amazing).

For lack of a better term, God commands we “pay it forward.”  He will not allow us to just receive forgiveness and mercy without living a life of forgiveness and mercy.  Christianity demands that we love each other as He loves us (John 15:12).

  • What is the subject of our dispute? 
  • What are we angry or bitter about?
  • What is worth separating ourselves from the will of God for?
  • Is there anything that we are currently go through in our life as a result of what someone else has done that is greater than what Jesus went through for you and I?

Is there a sin, wrong, offense or injustice that has been committed against you by another that you are unwilling to forgive?  The blood of Jesus has bound God to forgive you and He is absolutely holy and perfect.  Are you and I willing to put ourselves in a place that God has not put Himself?

Is there a sin that has happened to you in this life great enough for you to possibly affect your destiny and role in the next life?  I hope your answer is no.

Anger, arguments and offense are truly the “Bait of Satan”.  If you have not read this great book by John Bevere, please pick it up.  The message is powerful and will change your life.

Most things in life that cause us serious problems can be traced back to beginning too many statements with the word, “I”.  The disciples had this problem and Jesus was their pastor.

After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. (Mark 9:33-34)

Self-promotion, selfishness, me-first, looking after number one, etc. etc. do not belong in the Kingdom of God.  If the disciples had this problem while walking with Jesus chances are you and I are going to have to deal with this problem a lot.

This argument happened more than once.  In fact, it happened again during the Last Supper.

After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. For it has been determined that the Son of Man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays him.” The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.

Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:20-27)

Conclusion:

Relationships with people are just as important as our relationship with God.  They affect one another.  We cannot be spiritual superheroes and mean bitter people.  We cannot profess love for God and yet refuse to forgive others.

We cannot seek to promote ourselves in the kingdom of God when He is the king of the kingdom. 

So…  What is the subject of our dispute?

Is there anything in this temporal world worth holding onto so tightly that it affects eternity?

May the same grace, mercy and forgiveness that you and I received flow through us to those around us. May our only debt to each other be love.

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