Working Through Misunderstandings to Preserve Unity

Scripture From The Book Of Joshua Can Teach Us How To Work Through Misunderstandings.

Ross Sawyers
Nov 12, 2023    50m
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Today, we examine scripture from the Book of Joshua to find examples of healthy ways to work through misunderstandings. When we know that our core identity is found in Jesus, we know what we're unified around and what we're actually trying to preserve. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:04] I pray that we would be a people that genuinely abide in you, that enjoy you, and find great pleasure in you. Father, I pray that people that [inaudible]. That we just might enjoy the strength and the power that comes in Christ. I pray, God, that today, as we continue in our worship, in your word, that you would speak to us, God. I pray, Father, that we'd receive any kind of encouragement, affirmation, and we'd also receive warning and be willing to walk in confession and repentance. So, Father, whatever you want to do in our hearts today, I pray that we would hear it, receive it, and walk in it. And then, God, we pray today for what's going on in Israel. And God, we thank you just from your word in Psalms, we join with the psalmist in praying for peace for Israel. Father, I pray that more than anything, that we would see people from Hamas, people from the Palestinians, people that are Jews, God, that we would see a turning of their hearts towards Jesus. And God, I pray you'll give Christians in the region a supernatural strength from your Spirit to serve well, to love well, and to boldly bring the Gospel to bear. And I pray, Father, in ways that we can't understand, but we can trust you to help, God, that you would bring victory, that you'd bring peace, and Father, that there would just be a wave of turning towards you. God, we know that your purposes are never thwarted, nothing can thwart them. And then, God, we're grateful today that you work things to your end and for your glory, and we trust that today. And then, Father, I'm also grateful on this day as we think about Veterans Day, for those who have been faithful to serve over the years in the military. And from your word, God, you tell us that governments are set in Romans 13 to restrain evil, and so we thank you for the part that so many have played in restraining evils all over the world, and we pray you'd continue to put that restraint, and God, that you would be honored. So in these moments in your Word, I ask, God, that you would just speak to us, that we would hear, and then we'd respond. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:24] So a question for us to consider this morning. Has anybody had over the weekend any kind of misunderstanding with another person? Maybe it was this morning on your way here, and it'll be a little uncomfortable sitting next to the person you're with because there's a misunderstanding that you've not quite worked through yet. If you had any misunderstandings with friends, people in your life group, any misunderstandings with people in the church or church leadership, any misunderstandings at all. And I would say today in our world that is really fast paced, where we're texting with our thumbs 95 miles an hour, I don't, but I watch people do that, I'm a little slower. Where we email constantly, quickly, where there's very little margin when we're running from work to practice to practice. It's really easy for communication to get missed and for things to be misunderstood. I've sent emails, I write briefly, I don't enjoy texts or emails all that much, and so I do it brief and that gets me in trouble at times because it's misunderstood what I'm saying. So when we think about misunderstandings and all that goes on in our world and our culture, it's easy for us to have those misunderstandings. And when there are misunderstandings, then that leads to fracturing and a disunity in the relationship. So it's crucial that we're able to communicate well, understand well, and walk well in our day-to-day with people.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:26] If you would turn in your Bibles to Joshua chapter 22, we'll be in verses 1 through 34 as we continue our run through Joshua. And we're going to think about in chapter 22 about misunderstandings here in a moment but let me get us caught up. Some of you might be newer, and this fall we've been working our way through the Book of Joshua, there are 24 chapters, and we spent detailed time in chapters 1 through 10. Jermaine, our student pastor, last week summed us up between chapters 11 and 21, it's primarily about the division of the land that God had promised each tribe, and what they would have when they arrived in the Promised Land. I wasn't quite sure if we spent week to week, chapter by chapter, if you would keep coming back. So I thought it better that we sum up that section, and there are really great things within it as well, so well worth reading, but I wanted you to know my rationale for choosing to go more quickly through those chapters, and then we find ourselves today in chapter 22.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:31] Now, the overall picture of Joshua is that God has promised in Genesis 12, the very first book of the Bible, that there would be a land for the nation, that he would create the nation of Israel, and they would have a land that was promised to them. They wandered for 40 years for a variety of reasons after they'd been delivered from Egyptian slavery. When we arrive in Joshua, it's time for them to take the land that God has promised them. And Joshua is the one who succeeds Moses to lead and to take them into the land. There are a number of things that happen in the first several chapters, there are good things that go on, there are challenging things that happen, but by the time we arrive here in chapter 22, they have basically moved across the land, the land has been divided, and everyone is making their move towards the land that God has for them, that he's chosen for them. This is the land God has, he's chosen it for his people, Israel.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:31] Jermaine took you through a character study of Caleb in the midst of those chapters. And I think just a quick back look at Caleb, just one idea about him that Jermaine spoke of diligently. Caleb, at 85 years old, was spoken of as a man that fully followed after God. We've been talking in Joshua about the courage to follow God. Joshua and Caleb were two men that fully followed God to the end of their days. And what more beautiful compliment could you and I receive as followers of God in Jesus Christ, that whatever days that God gives us, if it's 85 years, or if it's 60 years, or 20 years, whatever the years are, that what would be said about us in the end, what people would remember, is that we were fully devoted as followers of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:35] So that brings us into chapter 22, things are going well. The last thing that is said in chapter 21 is that "Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass." All the promises of God come to pass; the promises of God are yes. We come into chapter 22 and we're going to run into a little bit of trouble. And I think life works like this, doesn't it? All things are good until they're not, and there's a variety of reasons as to why things turn and are not good. The reason we'll speak of today revolves around misunderstandings between people.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:23] It begins, however, in chapter 22, verses 1 through 9, with a core identity idea. So I want us to think about overall today about working through misunderstandings to preserve unity. Working through misunderstandings to preserve unity. Now we live in a season of time where unity is spoken of often. The question we have to keep asking, though, is where do we find that unity? Where is it actually foundationally built? So much of unity today is built around a cause, it might be built around a social justice issue, it might be built around a number of things, it might be built around a person to unify around a person. But it's important that we understand what we unify around and what drives that unity. So I want us to think about working through misunderstandings to preserve unity, and the first thought in that would be in chapter 22:1-9. In order to do this, we have to identify our core identity. It's important that we understand what our identity is so we know what we're unified around, and we know what we're actually trying to preserve.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:44] Let's begin in chapter 22, I'll read some of the verses, and I'll sum up some of the verses. There are 34 of them, follow along in your Bibles, and then we also have the scriptures on the screen. "Joshua summoned the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh." So he's talking to two and a half of the tribes, there are twelve tribes of Israel, and Joshua is addressing two and a half of the tribes, the tribes that descend from Reuben, from Gad, and then half of the tribe of Manasseh. In a moment, we'll see why there's a half that's being addressed here, so there are nine and a half other tribes, and he's addressing the two and a half.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:23] He said, “You have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have listened to my voice in all that I commanded you." He is affirming them, encouraging them, you have listened, you have listened to what Moses said, and you've listened to what I've said. What Moses and Joshua have both done is come from a perspective of this is what God is saying to do, and he's saying, you've listened, and you've done everything you've been commanded to do. You've not forsaken your brothers these many days to this day, but you've kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God. He keeps focusing on that they have kept the commandment of God, "They haven't forsaken their brothers." Why would he say that? The twelve tribes of Israel, they're brothers, they're the same ethnicity, it's twelve different tribes. But two and a half of these tribes are actually going to receive their inheritance of the promised land on the other side of the Jordan River.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:19] So if you just, I would assume in the last few weeks, maybe you've taken a look at a map of Israel with all that's going on in the region. So think about Israel here, and the Mediterranean here, you've got the Jordan River, and then think about the country, Jordan, and this ballparks, what we're talking about today. The region that is Jordan, on the other side of the Jordan River, is where the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh will be settling in in the land that they've been given. So they're going to be on the other side of the river, that's where they were before they came across the river to conquer the land. And it would have been very easy for them to have said, you know what? We're not going to get in on the fight, we already have our land over here, so we're staying put on this side of the river, and you guys can go take care of the rest. But Joshua says, no, you've been faithful to your brothers, you came across the river and you got in the fight for what it is that God had to take the land. “And now the LORD your God has given rest to your brothers (in verse 4) as He spoke to them; therefore turn now and go to your tents, to the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan." We're at rest now, we've done it, they didn't do everything they were supposed to do as we'll find out as the story unfolds. But for now, they're at rest.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:50] And then verse 5, I think is a place we could linger a long time, “Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” This is the theme that's been running through Joshua. In chapter 1, verses 8 and 9, when we started, we reiterated this theme will run all through this book. So when we read a book of the Bible, we're looking for themes that run through. What is the author trying to get us to see? And what we see again and again is to not be fearful or dismayed, to be strong and courageous, and to be careful to do according to all that's written here. In chapter 1, he says, "Meditate on it day and night." I love in the songs we were singing this morning, he's my song in the night, I'm meditating on the things of God in the night, I'm thinking on the things of God in the day. When we repeat in the song I depend on you, I depend on you, I depend on you, that's meditation, that's just rolling over the same thought again and again and again. So that this week, when you face some kind of trial, some kind of misunderstanding, what will roll through your mind is I depend on you, I depend on you, I'm not depending on me, I depend on you. Why do we have to be careful to meditate carefully on God's words? Because in a broken world, we are prone to wander, and we drift so easily. The writer of Hebrews warns us in chapter 2, verse 1, he said, "Be careful not to drift." We're drifters, we just drift a little bit at a time, and before you know it, we've just drifted so far off course, that we're not even sure how we got there. So we remind ourselves again and again in God's word, we're careful, and we observe it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:21] But look what he says, talk about the emphasis here, "Do this to love the Lord your God." This is to love God. When we talk about identity, he's laying out their core identity in verse 5, our core identity is centered around God himself and treasuring his ways; that's what unites us, that's where our unity is found in the core of who we are as lovers of God and lovers of his ways. He says, hold fast to Him, serve him, in other places, like clinging to Him, it's as many ways as he can think to say, go all in with God, fully follow him with all your heart and soul and mind. Now, it would be easy for us to move on quickly from that and say, okay, I know that. But it'll be more challenging on hearts today to say, well, where am I not holding on to him? Where am I not giving him my whole heart, where am I not all in with him, clinging to him, serving him, where is that? So Joshua says to them, be careful that you love God, and you love his ways with all your heart and soul of mine.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:55] The psalmist says it this way in Psalm 86:11-12, "Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. 12I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Your name forever." God, our prayer is that you would unite the way we think, with the way we feel with our motives and our actions, so that we're not divided anywhere within us and we are completely loyal to you today. God, will you do that work in our hearts? On our own, we're incapable; in Christ, it can happen. Love God and love our neighbor. Our core identity today in following God has been made known in Jesus Christ. In the unfolding of God's story, he's made it known that the way to be a part of the people of God is to believe what Jesus Christ has done; God in the flesh, perfect life, crucified for our sins, resurrected from the dead, ascended, one day returning, and then he'll make all things new. Belief and repentance in what Jesus Christ did is the way in to being a part of the people of God. Our core identity, before any other way we would define ourselves, is who we are in Christ as sons and daughters, and that is where our unity comes.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:34] Paul writes this in Ephesians 2. He says, there is a dividing wall between you, but Christ himself is our peace, and he's knocked the wall down, and it's the only place where real and true unity can actually be achieved. So it's a great thing to build on culturally that we want unity, but we can take people to a really cool spot and say, yes, and that can actually be achieved in Christ at the foot of the cross. That's the one place where we can find unity, is in Christ and in Christ alone, that is our core identity.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:13] And then it's a challenge, isn't it, to not drift. I was at a Young Life banquet the other night, and this one was supporting what happens in Grapevine-Colleyville. Southlake has an excellent Young Life going on, and HEB does, and other places. So many in here are actively a part of Young Life, helping teenagers to know Jesus by deeply investing in them relationally. The speaker the other night said this, a Fuller Institute study says that for our teenagers to have the best chance for their faith to stick in them, for them to be verse 5, to love God with all their heart and to follow him; and then later, as the story unfolds, to know Jesus. The best shot is when there are 5 adults that are in their life that love Jesus, know Jesus, or are following Jesus and are helping your child follow Jesus. Now, is that a rule, if you don't have 5, if you have 4, or 2, or 3, it's not going to happen? No, but in general. And here's why I think that's so critical to understand, you and I are being discipled 24/7, discipleship is normally a term we take from Scripture, we usually apply it just to Christians, and we don't really think about it as a whole thing going on everywhere we are. But 24/7, you and I are being discipled by someone. For example, when I substitute taught in the school district here, kids are on TikTok scrolling hours all day long. They are being discipled by whoever is on TikTok at any given moment, they're being discipled, their mind is being shaped by something. That's an example. So how important is it that we have adults following Jesus, willing to make the investment in students, so we have the best shot at the faith sticking in that student? Could we possibly consider, as adults, to maybe cut some hobby out, cut something out so that I actually have the margin to get in the life of a student? An hour a week probably isn't going to cut it, it's a relationship. It's a relationship, and relationships take time. It's not an hour in a book each week, it's a relationship. So that together we can be brothers and sisters, our core identity in Christ, as we treasure him more and more, we're more and more about the ways of Christ together. So this core identity it's a big piece of understanding how we work through misunderstandings. In verses 7 through 9, Joshua blesses them, and he sends them on their way. He gives them plenty of resources to work with that they've accumulated in their conquering of the land, and so they're going in a good way as they head towards and across the Jordan River to their land.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:41] Now, again, as I said, things are good until they're not. And just as in this moment, things are so good in who they are, then all of the sudden things are not good. And when we know what our core identity is, we want to be careful to maintain and preserve that unity in the core of who we are. And Paul says in the Scriptures in the New Testament that we already have unity in the Holy Spirit, we already have it. What our task is, as followers of Jesus, is to maintain the unity that's there. And the way we maintain it is to work through misunderstandings and conflicts with people.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:26] How many people have left a church because of a misunderstanding in a life group, or a misunderstanding from a pastor? How many times have we possibly sat out there, drifted for a moment, heard one phrase that someone up here said, and all of the sudden you're mad? Now, you might have heard the right thing and you're just mad about it. But it could be something that was misunderstood because we all bring back stories to what we're hearing, we bring our personal experience, we bring the way we think, we bring our personalities, that makes the whole thing a challenge. So this will be a lifetime of figuring out how we work through. So how do we do that anchored into God's Word here, and the way I framed it up here, is to get clear on the real problem?

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:16] Oftentimes, we don't even know what the real problem is that we're working through, so let's take a look at their dialog between verses 10 through 29 and see what things we can glean that are helpful for us on what the real problem is and how they handle it, and ways we can handle it in our own scenarios today. Verse 10, "When they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, a large altar in appearance." So they're headed towards the river, they're about to head across the river, but they paused for a moment, and they build this large, imposing altar. And in the flow of this story, we're not told why they build the altar, we're just told they build an altar, and so we don't have any idea what the why is behind it, but apparently, it was a problem. In verse 11, "The sons of Israel heard it." So this is the other nine and a half tribes, and they heard it. And notice what happens here, they heard it. Somebody got the news or saw it or something, and they came back and told the nine and a half tribes. I don't know if it worked then like it works now, but as soon as something's heard, we want to be the first ones to be the news source, get it out there whether we know all the truth behind it or not. They heard it, and they had trouble with it. Thank you. They heard it, it was bothersome to them, and Siri is helping us out, I love it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:51] So this is what they do in verse 11, They hear about this altar being built. And then in verse 12, "When the sons of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the sons of Israel gathered themselves at Shiloh to go up against them in war." It feels like a little overreaction, keep in mind, these are the same people who were fighting together for years to take the land, they were side by side. Joshua has just blessed them and told them, you've been faithful, and now a civil war is about to erupt in no time flat. And you know what? We're not too terribly different. We hear something, and we don't really know everything behind it, but we assume something, and we get really angry, and the fight is on. We're pretty similar to what's unfolding.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:05] Well, the good news is that sometimes when anger is the first reaction and it's time for war, it's time for a full-on fight in the home, sometimes cooler heads prevail and say, you know what, maybe we should talk about this first. And that's what starts to unfold in verses 13 and following, The sons of Israel, they come up with a delegation of people. Phineas is a priest, he's going to lead that delegation, there will be a representative from every tribe, and they're going to go to the two and a half tribes that built the altar, and they're going to have a conversation with them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:45] And it picks up in verse 16 what they say, "Thus says the whole congregation of the Lord." This isn't part of us, this isn't a few of us, all of us, this is what we're saying, "Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD, ‘What is this unfaithful act which you have committed against the God of Israel, turning away from following the LORD this day, by building yourselves an altar, to rebel against the LORD this day?" And notice what they did not do, these guys didn't show up and say, hey, we're curious about that altar you built. Can you help us understand what's going on here? No, they didn't give the two and a half tribes the chance to talk, they just came in with their accusations. What are you doing rebelling against the Lord? What are you doing with that altar? And what is an unfaithful act? That unfaithful act, those two words right there, is what was used to describe Achan in Joshua 7 when he violated the ban in Jericho and took things he was not supposed to take, and then it cost the whole community because of his sin. So they're remembering that, and oftentimes what drives misunderstanding can be fear. Because they are looking around saying, you know what, this hasn't gone well before when things are done that violate the holiness and purity of God, and we're jumping in here and we're going to kind of take care of this before we ever get going.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:28] And in verse 17 it says, "Is not the iniquity of Peor enough for us?" And if you go back to Numbers 25, the fourth book of the Bible, verses 1 through 9, that story is there. And in that story, the people of God started worshiping the god Baal, and prostituting themselves with Moabite women. God, it says, in his fierce anger responded to that, and people began to get eliminated. In the midst of that happening, one man decided he was going to say forget it, and he grabbed another woman in front of everybody, and took her into his tent, intending to have sex with her. Phineas, who's in this part of Joshua we're talking about right now, he goes into the tent with a spear and kills them both and God honors him because he had a jealousy for his God. God is not to be profaned. I know that can be bothersome, but God is a holy God, and he's making sure this doesn't happen again, although it will happen again, 24,000 died that day. So it's fair for this delegation to be concerned about that alter they saw, because they know what's happened in the past when there's been that kind of worship against what God would have them to worship.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:08] And then in verses 19 and 20, they just say to them, hey, we don't want God to be angry at us, we will even give you some land on this side of the river if it's a problem where you're going, if that's what's happening here, they're just trying to give them an alternative. We want to get right here with God and before him. And then in verse 20, they bring up the sin of Achan. And I just want to remind us again, from Joshua 7, and from numbers 25 the Stories of Achan and Peor, when someone sins, it does not just affect that one person. When someone in a life group is walking in sin, it affects the whole life group. When somebody is walking in sin in the church body, it affects the church body. When one spouse is walking in secret sin, it affects the whole family. When one child is walking in rebellious sin, it affects everybody. They understood this and they've paid the price before, and they don't want to pay the price again.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:22] Well, the good news is the story just keeps going. We're just kind of getting the accusations here, we're hearing their solutions for them to try to work through it, but we still haven't heard why they built this altar. We want to be careful about assumptions, only God knows the true motives of the heart. Now we can sometimes guess right, and other people based on experience, I'm not saying we can't. But at the end of the day, God is the only one who knows the motives of the heart. And when we make assumptions and accusations, we don't know if we're right or not. We might be right, but there might be a better way to get there.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:15] So finally they get to talk. Sons of Reuben and all of them, they start talking in verse 22, “The Mighty One, God, the LORD, the Mighty One, God." Isn't this cool that the first time they get to talk they are just praising God? Now that's what it looks like to us and that is what's occurring. But one thing I read and studied, there's not always very often a piling up of words like this of God in the Scripture and Old Testament, they were probably agitated, that the benefit of the doubt was not given to them. And they said, “The Mighty One, God, the LORD, the Mighty One, God the LORD! He knows." God knows, he knows our hearts, he knows why we've done what we've done.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:06] And then they say, look, if we've been rebellious, then kill us. And I love that because they're owning it, they're owning what they've done. They're saying, look, if it's true what you're saying about us, then yes, take us out, don't preserve us today. But then in the next few verses they start to explain this is why we did it. We realized we're going to be on the other side of the Jordan River, and when the generations start to pass, we don't want our sons and our children to be thought of as not the people of God, and that only the people of God are on this side of the Jordan River and between the Mediterranean. So their motivation was to build something that would be a reminder that they are all the people of God on both sides of the river. And it was big enough where you could see it from both sides of the river. And so for them, it wasn't to offer sacrifices that weren't supposed to be offered, because there was a tabernacle, that is where that was supposed to happen, and the nine and a half tribes were defending that. But he sits here on the other side, and they say, no, that's not what we're doing, we just want the generations that follow us to be included. They were fearful also; they were fearful that their kids and grandkids would not be thought of as a people of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:38] Now, aren't we similar? If your core identity is in Christ, don't you desire for your children and your grandchildren to be followers of Jesus? When we want to say what the psalmist in Psalm 45:17, "I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever." The generations are spoken of again and again and again in Scripture. They just want their generation of kids to be okay. So in verse 27, they said, "We did this to be a witness between us and you."

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:16] And then he ends it emphatically by saying, verse 29, "Far be it from us that we should rebel against the LORD and turn away from following the LORD this day, by building an altar for burnt offering, for grain offering or for sacrifice, besides the altar of the LORD our God which is before His tabernacle.” All we did was make a copy, to be a witness, and a reminder of what it is that God has done, and that we're included in it. They're clearing up the misunderstanding. The question is, will we believe what the other person says?

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:01] In verses 30-34, the way I would think about this is that when there's a misunderstanding and we resolve it, we move forward with greater strength. Relationships grow stronger the more and more misunderstandings we work through, the more and more conflict we work through, we grow stronger and stronger over time. And hopefully, there's less and less war when there's misunderstanding.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:38] So in verse 30, Phineas and the leaders of the group, they heard these words, and it pleased them. I would think there was a tremendous relief, we don't have to go to war with our brothers now, they were pleased, the Lord God is in our midst. And then Phineas, he returns, and he tells everybody back to the two and a half tribes how things went, and everybody was pleased, we see that word again. And then it finishes up with saying, we built this altar that is witnessed, that will be a witness between us and future generations that God is the Lord.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:24] Now, I think there's an important communication piece in the moving forward. See for a number of us, whether we have misunderstandings in our life group, in our church, with a church leader, when we have misunderstandings between our spouses, between friends, misunderstandings at work, we will oftentimes go talking to a bunch of people about that problem before we ever go to that person. And then we resolve with the person, but we forget to go back until all the other people that we had spoken to about the resolve, and that this person actually wasn't as bad as I thought they were, this isn't really what they meant. Or maybe they were as bad as I thought they were, but we've at least worked through it. See, it's important to go back around and communicate the pleasing, resolving work that God has done. It could be why the Proverbs tell us that it's wise for a person to restrain their lips, because the fewer people we engage in problems, the more likely we can actually resolve them and have good closure. The more people we include, the more difficult it is to work back into that grouping.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:58] So what are some things we can learn here? I think there are some things to take away from this that did not happen. First Corinthians 13 says that part of what love is to believe the best about someone. So I think one thing we can learn here is when there are misunderstandings, could I first believe the best about them before I believe the worst about them? Could I believe that you know what, maybe I just misunderstood? And so I want to go to the person and say, can you help me? When I received this text from you the other day, I received it as harsh and it's kind of undone me for a couple of days. I'm sorry that one that I didn't come to you sooner and clear it up, but can you help me understand what you meant when you wrote the text? We can do the same thing with emails or whatever, but just help me understand. I want to believe the best about what's happening here, and then we go from there.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:07] I think the second thing that we learned here is to not assume, that's really not fair to the other person. And we're in a lifetime probably of this cycle, by the way, because of our deceptive and broken human hearts. But again, we can move through them more quickly as we move through time. So those things are important.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:36] And then I wonder, wouldn't it be cool if when we have misunderstandings and conflict, we work through them that later when we're triggered, maybe by that thing... And depending on the degree of things in relationships, we all get triggered by things, it's fair. My counselor says there's emotional residue you can forgive, but there can still be emotional residue left over. But I was thinking the other day, isn't it cool when we're in such a good spot that we get triggered to something that happened in the past, it was a misunderstanding or a conflict, but what I'm triggered to remember is how gracious God was to bring us through it, that we forgave each other that time, and then we move forward with greater strength. And we might hit it again and again, but each time we're moving forward with greater strength. What if that was the trigger? Wouldn't those be cool things to walk away with?

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:37] But then what did these guys do right? I love what they did right. They saw a problem, and they reacted poorly at first but dialed it back, that's good. And then they went, and they went face to face, that's how you resolve problems is going face to face. They did that, it was clunky, it might have been better without the accusations, the assumptions, and all that. But the bottom line is they talked, the other ones talked, they walked away good. Isn't God gracious that he works through our own dysfunction when we don't do it exactly the way a book tells us to do it? And then again, I would say that communicating back to the people involved or that had been brought into it, to communicate to them, hey, look what God did here to resolve this. These are some good things for us, and we work through our own misunderstandings with people that we learn from walking through the Scriptures.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:40] Two resources I want to recommend to you, one is called Resolving Everyday Conflict. We just taught a class on this, Steve Mills and Chuck Finney did about 30 or 40 people went through it. It's a fantastic resource for any kind of conflict resolution, it's biblically anchored, and it is really well thought out. He wrote a really thick book called, I think, The Peacemakers, or something like that. And I think he figured out that most people probably weren't going to buy and read it, so he got it down to where most of us would take a stab at it anyway. But it's very practical, very helpful, very much anchored down in Scripture. And then if you like, a little more thickness to your books. Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp. It is fantastic in helping us work through communication, conflict, and how we can all be counselors with one another, and just tons of practical and biblically anchored ways to walk in that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:36] But I want to give you this thought and challenge with a question that I began with in light of this passage. When you and I came to know Jesus Christ, if you know him today. What God did at the cross, he reconciled us to himself, and he took a dead heart that you and I have and made it alive. That's power. But in the cross, what Christ did is not just for when we were saved, the same power to reconcile that God did at the cross to save us is the same reconciling power you and I lean on, abide in, and depend on today. And the only way I'll be able to walk healthily through misunderstandings that preserve unity, is when I lean into the reconciling power of God and know that just in the same way he reconciled me to himself, he can reconcile me to you. We're leaning on the power of Jesus to reconcile, to enable us to reconcile with those with whom we have misunderstandings.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:59] Now, is there anybody that you won't sit with at your kid's game because there's some kind of misunderstanding with them? They're there, but you make sure you don't sit on that part of the bleachers. Is there anybody in a life group you were in in the past or currently in, and you don't go as much anymore because somebody said X, and I'm not really sure I'm game for that? Did you ever talk to them about it? Have you ever left a church because you heard a pastor say something, but you never went to him and had a shot at saying, hey, this is what I understood you to say, help me understand if I heard that right? And again, you might have heard it correctly and it's time to move on, or maybe you didn't. Because you know your family so well, are there assumptions being made right now that really are not why this current misunderstanding is happening? And if we let misunderstandings last for long, they're going to rise to full-on conflicts in battle. How beautiful today if, as a Christian, and it's our responsibility as Christians to make the first move. Whether offended or the offender, we step first.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:35] Father, thank you for your goodness towards us, thank you for the strength and encouragement and hope in this passage of Scripture. Thank you, God, for your faithfulness to preserve unity both within problems in Israel and then when they were working with those outside, God, you're a faithful, unifying God. And today, I pray we would be a people that are grateful for the reconciling power to you in our relationship with you, and so thank you for that. And I pray in the same way that we've been forgiven and reconciled, God, help us to work through any misunderstandings or any conflicts so that there might be that unity preserved today in the Body of Christ. And I pray, Father, the way we love each other like this would cause a wondering world to look at it and say, what is it that's different about the way they handle misunderstandings and that that would draw them to consider the beauty of Jesus today. So, Father, I pray that we would be faithful to be affirmed and encouraged today, that we would be willing to receive conviction and anything you bring to mind to take care of, and that we treasure you in such a way that we act on it in a way that brings love and reconciling to bear. So, Father, I pray in these moments as we consider and as we sing and worship you, God, that you would seal these things in our hearts in a way that our love for you would increase in our treasuring of you, would do all the more. In Jesus' name.



Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051
817.488.1213