Faithlife Sermons

Be Vulnerable

Authentic Relationships  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction:
There are few things as terrifying as needing to say, I’m sorry. (Unless you are Canadian).
But messing up and needing to own up to that can be truly frightening.
What will the say? Will they forgive? Will the cast you out?
This fear can be so great that many of us respond to our mistakes in 3 ways.
We deny that we did anything wrong?
We justify ourselves.
We own it.
What’s crazy is that most of the time, if we just apologize, people are willing to forgive. In most of the time they may not even know something bad has happened. Or if they did, they’ve already forgiven and moved on.
But that doesn’t mean that guilt and shame won’t eat at us until we own it.
Now, it is possible that someone might be so filled with anger or rage that they might not be ready or able to forgive you. And that’s on them. Your part is to say sorry.
They might even expect you to make amends. And that might be appropriate. But never allow yourself to be held captive by their forgiveness....especially if they say they forgive you.
We are called to be vulnerable in our relationships.
Transition to the Text: Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 5:23-24.This passage is part of a larger sermon by Jesus called the Sermon on the Mount. And the basic idea around the sermon on the mount is that this is what Jesus expects of those who will be a part of His kingdom on earth. You cannot read the sermon on the mount and not be challenged by how incredibly high Jesus’ standards are for his people.
We are called to live differently. It is so countercultural to the world, that it doesn’t make sense to them.
Jesus doubles down on the fact that God’s word is unbreakable. That we are still called to obey God’s law and to pursue holiness.
Some want to make the Sermon on the Mount not apply to us since it was given before the cross, but that dismisses one of the most beautiful calls to live lives that are different.
As you read this sermon, it’s pretty obvious that it the longer version of Jesus’ summary of the Law.
Matthew 22:37–39 ESV
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
It’s all about relationships. Relationships with friends, family, complete strangers, and even people you consider enemies.
And throughout, Jesus is showing that our broken relationships with people effectively breaks our relationship with God.
Introduce:

Authentic Principle: Relationships with Others Affect our Relationship with God.

Read:
Matthew 5:23–24 (ESV)
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Authentic Principle: Relationships with Others Affect our Relationship with God.

1. Mend broken relationships quickly. (Matthew 5:23)

Explanation: Jesus gives us a scenario where a person is seeking to worship God in his temple. They bring their offering which is mean to restore their relationship with God. Whether it is for sin or simply a fellowship offering of peace with God, the Old Testament made provision for people to restore their broken relationship with God.
And people followed this religiously. But here Jesus flips it and begs the question, how can you expect to have peace with God when your other relationships are a mess.
Fix those relationships first and then you will have peace with God.
This was offensive to the Jewish people who assumed they had peace with God because they did all the religious things.
But this wasn’t new. God had always established this expectation.
Twice in Matthew Jesus appeals to Psalm 40:6
Psalm 40:6 ESV
6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
Matthew 9:13 ESV
13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 12:7 ESV
7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
Your sacrifice and offering means nothing to God if you treat others with contempt.
Matthew 23:23 is perhaps more clear.
Matthew 23:23 ESV
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Let’s not split hairs, the offerings and sacrifices are important, but even Jesus says its all about the relationship. You can’t claim to be holy if your relationships are a mess.
Now this is where vulnerability comes in.
If you remember that someone else has something against you.
Not that you have something against someone else.
There is also no indication about whether they are in the right or not. You see who’s right doesn’t matter.
We must do whatever is in our power to mend the relationship. We don’t get to say, “well it’s not my problem” or “they are the one with the problem.”
You are responsible for your part in the relationship. And yes, everyone has a part to play in the broken relationship.
Illustration: Now sometimes, the problem is you. And failure to be vulnerable and ask for forgiveness can lead to bad consequences.
Look at
Matthew 5:25–26 ESV
25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
If you need to so sorry. Say sorry. if you need to make amends. Make amends. If you need to pay restitution, pay restitution.
Application: Be vulnerable. How many broken relationships have you endured over the years. How many of those do accept part of the responsibility.
Are there any relationships you need to evaluate and mend?
Because....

2. If you feel distant from God, check your other relationship first. (Matthew 5:24)

Explanation: While the passage doesn’t come right out and say it, your broken relationships with people can cause brokenness in your own relationship with God.
For many this seems to go against their belief about God.
For whatever reason we assume that only what God thinks about us matters. And in part that’s true. But if you don’t think about other people…in showing mercy and doing justice, then we aren’t following God.
Micah 6:8 ESV
8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Following god involves relationships with others.
Now one of the biggest relationships is with your spouse. Peter warns husbands that a broken relationship with their wife could lead to God ignoring your prayers.
1 Peter 3:7 ESV
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Furthermore, the idea that we are called to healthy relationships means that while our relationship with God is personal, it’s never private. It’s meant to be lived out in community with others. This means that to be a Christian, you must be a part of a local church.
And yes that means that you have to learn to deal with conflict with people. You must learn to forgive and ask for forgiveness.
You must be vulnerable.
Now we acknowledge that there is some legitimate abuse that happens in churches. Pastors who browbeat their congregations whenever they disagree with them.
But let’s face it, this is not the norm.
So often when you listen to the stories of people who’ve had “bad experiences” with churches, it’s that the church leadership wouldn’t tolerate or celebrate their sinful lifestyles.
Pastors have a responsibility to call out sin when they see it. They have a responsibility to call their people to repentance. They have a responsibility to point out bad doctrine or incorrect understanding of the Bible.
But isn’t it hypocritical for any of us to call out sin in others when we struggle with sin ourselves.
What about what Jesus says:
Matthew 7:4–5 ESV
4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Some have wrongly interpreted this to mean, don’t point out the speck in your brother’s eye. What Jesus was actually saying is “own your own stuff.” Being vulnerable with your own shortcomings actually gives you credibility to point out the sin in others.
It’s when we pretend we are without sin that we are truly hypocrites.
Even Paul says he hasn’t arrived yet.
Philippians 3:13 ESV
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
Part of humility is acknowledging the past without living there.
Paul was a murderer. Many might have said, “Who are you to say anything to anyone…after what you’ve done?” But in vulnerability, Paul never hides his past.
Likewise Paul went to Jerusalem years later to talk with the apostles. Could part of that visit been to make amends?
You can’t live however you want and call if freedom. You can’t believe whatever you want.
Truth is not relative.
Application: It’s not too much to ask if you feel distant from God, how are the other relationships in your life? Check on those relationships and then come back to God.
This calls us to be vulnerable.

Response: How vulnerable are you in your relationship with God and others?

Summation:
Authentic Principle: Relationships with Others Affect our Relationship with God.
1. Mend broken relationships quickly. (Matthew 5:23)
2. If you feel distant from God, check your other relationship first. (Matthew 5:24)
Response: How vulnerable are you in your relationship with God and others?
Closing Illustration:
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that none of like to be vulnerable.
Being vulnerable is like being in a war with no cover.
Or going out on a limb that you are not quite sure will hold your weight.
We think to be vulnerable is to be weak when in reality it makes us strong.
Vulnerability takes risk. And sometimes we will get burned. But that’s not reason for us not to be vulnerable.
Whenever I think about vulnerability I always comes back to the Bible.
One of the reason why I love the Bible so much is that it portrays the people it talks about as vulnerable.
Ancient literature and chronicles tended to avoid talking about a king’s weaknesses and emphasizes his strengths.
Take Egypt for example. If you are reading the Bible with us as a church, you have been reading exodus.
Now exodus is really the only account of what happened in Egypt with the plagues and the destruction of Egypt. Now some say that simply means it didn’t happen. But there is surprisingly little written about that Pharoah at all. And this makes sense because let’s face it, they wouldn’t want to record that event in their story.
But something interesting happens with that Pharoahs grandson. He appears to abandon the God’s of Egypt in favor of worshiping a “regional deity” of the Hebrew people in the land of Egypt.
This Pharaoh seems to abandon the religion of his fathers in order to worship YAHWEH. I wonder what caused that.
Kings don’t right about the bad things that happen to them.
but then you look at the people of the Bible.
Moses was a murderer and exile. David was an adulturer. Paul was a murderer. Peter denied Jesus 3 times. Thomas was a doubter.
They were vulnerable.
But they are human.
Look at Jesus.
In the garden of Gethseme on the night Jesus was betrayed, we get a picture into his soul. The emotional battle raging within him.
Praying Father, if it’s possible for the cup to pass from me, let it be.
Jesus was without sin, but the king of Kings and the lord of lord’s invites us into the inner turmoil of his soul? Why? Hebrews 4:15 answers for us.
Hebrews 4:15 ESV
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
When it comes to Jesus, he is vulnerable to us as an example.
He was without sin and without Him we would have been on our way to eternal torment. But he made the first move.
He left heaven to become human for the purpose of going to the cross and saving his people from their sins.
And because of this, we ought to be vulnerable with God and vulnerable with others.
Let’s pray.
Week 24 of 2021-2022 Sermon Series: Authentic Relationships: Be Vulnerable (Matthew 5:23-24)
Authentic Principle: RELATIONSHIPS with Others Affect our RELATIONSHIP with God.
1. Mend BROKEN relationships quickly. (Matthew 5:23)
2. If you feel distant from God, CHECK your other relationship first. (Matthew 5:24)
Response: How VULNERABLE are you in your RELATIONSHIP with God and others?
Opening Discussion: What are the keys to good relationships with friends, family, and/or acquaintances?
Sermon:
What does Jesus say about the importance of mending relationships? Why is this so important?
Why should we first mend broken relationships with people before we try to get right with God?
Why do you think broken relationships with people negatively affect our relationships with God?
Why might bringing an offering to God bring to mind other relationships that need mending in your life?
Read 1 John 4:20. What does this verse add to our understanding of the importance of having good relationships?
Application:
Why is vulnerability so important when it comes to mending broken relationships?
In Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:23-24, who is the person assumed to be at fault in the relationship? Who is called to make the first step?
How does it feel that you, in vulnerability, may need to take the first step to mend a relationship when the pain is still real?
Are their any relationships that you need to mend?
How is your relationships with God? Are there broken relationships in your life that may be affecting your relationship with God?
What steps can you take to be more vulnerable in your relationships?
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