Faithlife Sermons

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It’s been well over a year ago now that they came.
I was standing at the Welcome Center greeting guests who had been in the service when a couple approached.
I could tell they were troubled.
As I observed them, their body language was all wrong.
She was fighting back tears and he was talking.
She wasn’t standing very close to him and she looked almost angry.
He was desperate for some kind of response and took some time to explain their situation.
The short of it was that their marriage was in trouble.
I don’t remember much what he said other than that they needed help.
When I heard that I looked at her.
I was looking for some sign that she wanted help as much as he did.
All I got was tears coming out of pretty hard, defiant eyes.
I tried to console them and encouraged them to work on their marriage, but as they walked away, I must admit that I really didn’t feel a whole lot of hope.
I thought, “If they ever save that marriage it really will take a miracle.”
You’ve probably had those very same feelings!
Maybe you’ve had a friend whose marriage was on the rocks and there were many complicated, painful problems roadblocking the path of reconciliation.
You may have even thought like me, “This seems pretty hopeless.
It would take a miracle to save this marriage.
Maybe you’ve even felt that way about your own home.
Years of neglect have choked any feelings you ever had.
Mountains of betrayal squeeze the life from your relationship.
Hope died years ago and your marriage has become a desperate attempt to just hold on.
You’re about ready to give in to the despair and abandon what has become a painful existence.
If you are hopeless over your marriage, I want you to receive some hope this morning.
Maybe that’s not really it for you though.
No, the reason that your relationship is on the rocks is that, in the midst of everything that has gone wrong you feel guiltless.
Now, notice, I didn’t say that you were guiltless, I said you feel guiltless.
See, the truth is you really do have a boatload of guilt.
You have just become so adept at hiding from the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit and lying to yourself that you are able to go one as though nothing happened.
All the while you’ve betrayed your spouse through adultery, or belittled your spouse through pornography, or blasted your spouse with emotional abuse, or even beaten your spouse through physical abuse.
Yet you feel guiltless.
Today its time to come clean.
Your marriage miracle may only be a humiliation away.
Others of you are not guiltless, but you are merciless.
You consider yourself the wounded party in everything that has happened.
At first, there was a willingness to try to work things out, but wound after wound has so debilitated your heart that mercy has left you.
Now, all you want is revenge.
You want to take your ex- down and take them down hard.
The switch has flipped in your heart and you have no intention of ever reconciling.
Today, I want to speak to those of you who may be going through this whole process right now, but I will tell you that the principles I discuss connect with all of us.
Whether it’s a marriage or not, we all struggle with our relationships in life.
We are all just selfish and proud enough to be able to do permanent damage to those around us, often without fully understanding.
All of us are like this, whether saved or lost.
The difference for the Christian, however, is that we are commanded, as a matter of our lives as members of God’s kingdom, to always word for restoration.
So whether it’s a busted relationship with your spouse, your parents, your friend, or your boss, here’s what I really want you to know: Restoration is possible.
Now, if you’re really hurting today, you may be shaking your head at that.
You find it hard to believe that love could be restored or that your marriage could ever be saved.
It would take an amazing miracle.
But here’s what I want you to know: God is in the salvage business.
Restoration is His great passion.
And if you are ever going to experience this in your life, there are three requirements that you see in these ten verses.
Read them with me:
Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!
It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Take heed to yourselves.
If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’?
But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’?
Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him?
I think not.
So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants.
We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”
The first requirement is this:
The hard work begins with recognizing our offenses.
In fact Jesus takes these very seriously.
He says: Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
3 Take heed to yourselves.
Now to those of us who claim not to be offensive, He pretty much calls us liars.
He says, “It is impossible that no offenses should come . .
In other words, I think it’s pretty clear that all of us become offenders at one time or another.
Men, you didn’t mean to hurt your wife.
She asked you how she looked in that dress.
I mean if she didn’t want you to tell her that she looked like an elephant in a bikini, why did she even ask you.
You didn’t mean to offend, but you did.
Ladies, you didn’t mean to wound his ego.
Sure, you know he doesn’t like it when you put him down in front of other couples, but that zinger was so good, you just had to say it.
You didn’t mean to offend but you did.
Here’s what I observe about marriage: We constantly live in the arena of unintended consequences, or should I say, unintended offenses.
Grudges are nursed; resentments grow like kudzu and, before you know it, there is a huge gulf of mutual resentment between you.
Maybe that’s why Jesus says at the end of v1, Yes, it is impossible that offenses not come, but woe to him through whom they come!
It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
3 Take heed to yourselves.
Applied to marriage, Jesus tells us that offense against your partner is not to be taken lightly.
In fact, he says that a mafia-style death, where the equivalent of our concrete block is tied to our necks and we are cast into the sea is better than us causing offense.
So let’s put this together: If offense is so easy to cause, and yet it is so very serious, then you and I have to be very diligent not to cause that offense.
I tell you that is very hard work, which is why I say that restoration requires hard work.
But there’s another reason in these verses.
Jesus goes on to say in v 3: If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; Hey! That’s confrontation.
If you are offended, your job is to confront the offender.
The word “rebuke” literally means to “express strong disapproval of someone.”
Now that’s hard work.
No one likes conflict, especially in your marriage.
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