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Gently Engage

Mike Measley  •  EFBC
REAL peace  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  49:48
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AFter Going Higher, Looking within, and Accepting Responsibility, the next stop on the pathway to REAL peace is to Gently Engage the other person(s) in the conflict so they, too, can bring glory to God.

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Intro

This morning's scripture reading is from Luke 15:11-24. This is the parable--a story told to teach a point--Jesus told which is commonly called 'The Prodigal Son'. Jesus told this parable to teach the point that there should be great rejoicing over the return of someone who had been separated from God. It is rejoicing over the restoration of the relationship between God and a person who is saved.
The biggest, most important conflict in our world is between us and God. We all have sinned. We all fall way short of God's perfect holiness, and His righteous standards. Sometimes we simply fail to do what He expects. Other times we willfully step over the loving boundaries He has placed to pursue our own desires. The result is that we are all under His just condemnation.
However, God loved us, and dealt with the conflict. He loved us! He sent Jesus, God the Son, into the world as a man so He could die in our place, taking our punishment. He raised Jesus from the dead, conquering sin, and the punishment for sin, Death! He Graciously offers restoration to anyone who believes He loved them, and did this for them. Anyone who is willing to believe Him when He says, there is salvation in no one else. For there is no other name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved!
Have you been restored by God?
That is how we find REAL peace in this world. We find it by first being reconciled to Him. Secondarily, we find it as we live following His standards, which call us to be reconciled to one another.
The pathway to REAL peace begins by Going Higher: How do I honor and Glorify God in this situation/this conflict?
Then, the pathway goes inward, as we look within to realize our guilt before God and man.
As we spoke last week, the next stop along the path is Accepting Responsibility for our guilt, repenting to God, and going to confess to men.
The Prodigal son did this in His conflict with his Father. He accepted reponsibility, repented and confessed. He did not defend, make excuses, or point elsewhere. He owned it.
Now, today we look at the next stop along the path. GENTLY ENGAGE to Restore. This restoration is seen in the Actions of the Father who put His son back in his right position. And, in his gently engaging the older son in the portion we did not read earlier.
Listen now. Read along if you like.
Luke 15:25–32 NIV84

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

This father had two sons. One Confessed and was restored. The other was angry and Gently Engaged, with hope of restoration.
What a wonderful picture of God the Father who restores us when we confess, and Gently Engages us when we are wrong.
Just as God Gently Engages us to Restore us, We are called by Him to reconcile and Restore others when there is conflict.
Let's ask Him to speak to us today.

Confrontation

The time comes when we do have to confront the other party in a Conflict.
I see, and accept responsibility for my part of the conflict. Now, How do I graciously help this other person see their responsibility so that they can grow to be more like Christ?
It's a Confrontation... wow, something most of us do not want to do, because I don't want or need another conflict!
Isn't this when typically people get defensive all over again as we share with them some weakness in their life? Then, there is the backlash of all the ills they see, or can come up with now, to show you are worse then they are.
Is it really necessary to confront?
Some would say Matthew 7:1-5 means we should not judge others, or confront them. But is that what it says?
Matthew 7:1–5 NIV84

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

No, removing the speck from your brothers eye is the final instruction here. On another occasion Jesus also said this:
Luke 17:3 NIV84

So watch yourselves.

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.

When someone sins, we need to go and rebuke him. Confront the wrong behavior.
Well, it was mostly my fault, and I confessed it to God. He said that we need to go to someone when we have done something to offend.
Matthew 5:23–24 NIV84

“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.

Notice, he didn't say if you offended. He said if your brother has something against you. Maybe it was only a misunderstanding. Even so, Jesus says go! Restored unity is the goal, and it is important! We need to go.
But is it possible to confront without it becoming another conflict?
Unfortunately, I do not do well in this regard. However, I am trying to learn, and I invite you to join with me in looking at what God tells us in the Bible about how to do this Confrontation.

Gently Engage

Galatians 6:1 NIV84

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

Perspective - Caught in Sin

The first thing I see in this verse is the perspective I need to seek.
How does this verse describe the person:
Overtaken by sin
Caught in sin
We need to begin to view the other in the conflict as God would see them. He sees them through the loving eyes of a Father.
Remember the Father in the parable? He was out watching and waiting for His wayward son. This son had basically said, "I wish you were dead! Give me my inheritance now so I won't have to be with you anymore!" But still, He waited. He watched. He loved. He wanted to Restore Him Gently.
His son was overtaken by Sin. His son was caught in a trap.
What is My Perspective of this person? Are they a bad person, bent on doing me harm? Or, are they a child of God, caught by Sin?
We need the perspective of God when considering this person.

Purpose - Restore

Next this verse plainly tells us why we are to go to the other person. The purpose is to Restore them back to a right state. If sin has, them, freed from the trap. If they are thinking incorrectly, helping them renew their mind. If they are acting faithless, building them up in their faith.
The word used for Restore is also used for:
Setting broken bones
Putting back into right position
Mending
Making it into the condition of what it is supposed to be
We need to have the heart purpose of seeing them walking in fellowship with God, growing in stature with God and Man as Jesus did!

Approach - Gently

How are we supposed to do this? Gently.
This word is also found in Ephesians 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; 2 Timothy 4:2--verses I will encourage you to look up this week.
This is where my biggest struggle lies.
Okay. We have the right perspective and purpose. How do we do this?
"You know, you really screwed up and hurt me, and what's more I see you doing this to others too. You are in the wrong!"
What do you think? Gentle enough?
The word for Gentle is also translated humbly. So maybe this approach...
"Would you mind if I shared something I have learned from this conflict?... No. Okay. I'll be going now."
No. That is like not even going to begin with. And is that humility?
This word for Gently is strength/determination used to proper measure.

Praǘtēs, according to Aristotle, is the middle standing between two extremes, getting angry without reason (orgilótēs [n.f.]), and not getting angry at all (aorgēsía [n.f.]). Therefore, praǘtēs is getting angry at the right time, in the right measure, and for the right reason. Praǘtēs is not readily expressed in Eng. (since the term “meekness” suggests weakness), but it is a condition of mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness, but in power. It is a balance born in strength of character.

This does not come naturally. It is supernatural. Keep in mind the context of Galatians 6:1. Turn back to Galatians 5:22-23.
Galatians 5:22–23 NIV84

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

To go Gently we need to:

Pray

So, we need to pray, and ask God to work this Fruit in us as He promised to do.
Then, we need to walk in faith that He will work this in us, and plan out how we are going to live this out.
Ephesians 4:1–2 NIV84

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Okay. I am praying and planning, thinking through what Gentleness will look like when I go to them.

Listen

First be ready to listen. Ask them what happened.
James 1:19 NIV84

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

Be sure to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Often, I have a wrong perspective. I need to stop accusing of something, and ask, "Hey, what were you feeling when you said that to me?" "Were you angry?" Why were you angry? What did you want that you were not getting? What were you afraid would happen?

Clarify and Reflect what you hear them saying.

Agree with what they say is correct.

Most people listen better when they are being agreed with by the person with whom they are conversing.

Use "I" Statements

Speak the Gospel in Grace

Remember when we were going through how to provide REAL help to one another?
How were we supposed to speak?
The comfort of the gospel
The call of the gospel.
Now that we have Prayed and Planned to Restore Gently, We need to go.
Matthew 18:15 NIV84

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.

Don't write a letter. Don't send a text. Don't send a message. Go.
Face to face communication, allows you to make use of the high percentage of communication that comes through non-verbals.
God knows this is the right method. God demonstrates this method. He went to Adam and Eve. He went to Cain. He strove with man before the flood.
God goes to people and speaks to them. He uses His Spirit to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment does He not? John 16:8-11.
God wants us to follow His example, and Go to people to Gently Engage them.
One thing to point out. 'Go' in Matthew 18:15 is a grammatical form of continual action. Be going to him. You may have to go more than once. They may doubt your perspective, purpose and approach the first time. Keep going.
Then, if it does not work when you go alone, get someone else they may respect to go with you, and try again.
Matthew 18:16 NIV84

But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

Finally, if that doesn't work, involve the church.
Matthew 18:17 NIV84

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Again, the goal is to Restore, because that is God's goal. The goal is to bring them back to a proper place so God is glorified in them, and in you--So God is glorified by our unity.
This is not easy. It goes against every fiber of our being. But this is what God is calling us to be and do as Peacemakers, walking the pathway to REAL peace.
We must Gently Engage, so we can Restore our brother or sister in Christ.
As we close, keep these verses in mind:
1 Corinthians 3:1–3 NIV84

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

Are you still worldly? Is there jealousy in your heart? Is there some quarrel or conflict in your life that has not yet been resolved? Are you experiencing REAL peace? Or, are you Peace-faking? Who is it you are avoiding? Have you been Peace-breaking? Who is it you have destroyed with your words, attitudes and actions?
And do not think it is there problem.
Leviticus 19:17 NIV84

“ ‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.

You are responsible before God.
I urge you, as I need to do, get on the pathway to REAL peace as God commands you.
Go Higher
Look Within
Accept Responsibility
Gently Engage
Perspective
Purpose
Approach
Pray
Listen
Speak
Pray

Homework

Memorize Galatians 6:1.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 2 Timothy 4:2 and write down all of the action words--all of the commands. Notice that the word 'confront' is not in your list. What is the significance of the words used? What do the words used tell you about the spirit in which you should go to someone with whom you have a conflict? There are times that it will be a sharp rebuke (Titus 1:13), but more often what do the words indicate? How will you apply this as you go to talk to someone?
Read 2 Timothy 2:24-26 again. As we prepare to Gently Engage, how does this passage express our Perspective? Purpose? and Approach? Ask God to work Gentleness in your heart and mind. Write out a prayer for the other person using 2 Timothy 2:26.
As you prepare, use the Word. 2 Timothy 4:2 speaks to using the Word. However, remember to use the Word as you should. What would 2 Timothy 4:2 look like? How will you do this with great patience and careful instruction? Remember the Comfort and Call of the gospel. You may want to have some verses for the other person to read. In conversation you should mention them, but do not need to feel the need to quote chapter and verse. Rather, be prepared to hand them chapter and verse to look up and read. We do not use the Word as a club, but as a tool to renew the mind.
Read 1 Thessalonians 3:10. What does this verse have to do with Gently Engaging? How will you put this into practice?
Read James 5:20. How does this encourage you to Gently Engage?
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