Relating to those who matter to us

by Adrian and Pam Fox

Readings:  Matthew 5:13-16, 23-24.             1 John 3:16-18

From our Reading – Matthew 5  we are called to be salt and light.

What would it mean for us to lose our saltiness… to have the light which we are called to show hidden under a basket?  (Both phrases we hear from time to time… )

For Jesus –  Salt and Light it is about relating differently from,  but still within  the prevailing culture – swimming upstream if you like.   … and from V26 – it certainly affects the way we come to God. Relating to each other is one aspect of being salt and light –

And  how we love one another is the key!

The scenarios  pointed to some very normal family situations.  Did you relate to them? 

1 Jn 3:18 – Dear friends, let us not just say that we love each other, let  us show the truth of our love by  our actions.  

This is one of my favorite little posters –

People may doubt what you say, but they will always believe what you do!

1 John 3:18 … or a variation of it.

 Four Practical Challenges for building healthy relationships the Jesus Way:

 1:  Learn to love –

Not control of the person, but commitment to the relationship.

2:  Learn to transform pain –

Choosing not to transmit pain (retaliate), or transfer (punish the innocent), but to transform our pain into blessing.      (carry/hold pain for the sake of the other)

3:  Learn to forgive  –

Forgiving is a process, not just a statement

4: Learn Paradox before Paradise – 

Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?

1:  Learn to love –    

Not control of the person, but commitment to the relationship.

Love is –

  •  Supernatural – Motivation/ decision commitment
  • Sacrificial – Definition / pay it forward – open hand
  • Straight – Honest/ speaks the truth in love

 Love is NOT

  • Subversive –  Controlling/owning/manipulating
  • Self-focused – meet my needs
  • Self-effacing – I don’t matter

 2:  Learn to transform pain –  

Choosing not to transmit or transfer pain, but to transform our pain (conciliation – when I carry/hold pain for the sake of the other).

  • Transmit…  When I retaliate against your action, conflict escalates (just watch two kids in the back seat of the car – or when a father and son butt heads)…
  • Transfer… When I transfer my pain to an innocent (eg. kicking the cat ..) – I damage two relationships (and while cringing in the corner the cat says “What was that about?”)
  • Transform…When I respond for understanding and conciliation, rather than reacting with retaliation… we begin to build positive relationship.  Do I need to be right?  Or do I want to relate?
  • The Cross is the ultimate picture of this transforming pain.  He did not retaliate (Father forgive them…)  Jesus carried our pain in His Body, to reconcile us to God (Romans 5:1 – “… we have peace with God because of what Jesus has done for us.”)

 3:  Learn to forgive  –

Forgiving is a process, not just a statement

Forgiveness always beats bitterness

Forgiveness is

  • Dealing with the pain
  • Deliberate choice – to surrender my right to get even
  • Decision to begin a process

Forgiveness is NOT

  • Denial of the wrong
  • Demonising the person
  • Demanding  justice

 4: Learn Paradox before Paradise –   

Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?

In our younger years we want to see the world – and issues – in Black & White – clear contrast, right or wrong, Yes or No!  We want to be certain – Right!

As life goes on , most of us hopefully begin to see a world full of paradox –

The Bible reveals unexpected paradox – We die so that we can live

– We become servants to become great

– the Beatitudes  have this same pattern :

 Paradox is –

  • Tension – between seeming opposites: 
    • People:The best of us has some bad in us, the worst of us has some good in us!
    • Close Relationships:  I love you to bits, but you drive me crazy!

 Truth – Even myself:  There is a deep shadow in each and all of us… (Rom 7: Paul said “Whenever I wish to do good, I fail to do it!”)

This requires self-awareness  – “What is my part in this issue?”  “What pride am I exercising that makes me “so right”?     That requires us to be settled in who we are… comfortable in our own skins!

  • Tolerance – learning to live with “Yes, And…”  rather than “Yes/No!”  Owning our own weakness, and accepting the other’s  prepares us for conciliation in relationship.

Note:  The Pharisees regularly received a serve from Jesus – in part because their need for certainty  (with  about 750 rules developed to achieve certainty), which caused them to lose the dynamic of living in faith…   they accepted no paradox  – no seeing things differently.


When Jesus shared the challenges recorded in Matthew 5 , there would have been many who said –

“That’s not the way we do things around here!”  Just as there would be many  today who would reply similarly… “Don’t I have a right to return fire?” – OR “Do you understand how much I have been hurt”.   “How could you love…” 

But if we want to live the Jesus Way, those are the wrong questions!

A better question sounds like this:  “Boy that would be difficult… How can I get to that point?”   Or “ I can’t do that without help, who will help me change?”

Jesus’ words in Matthew are clear –  If you have something against the other, first be reconciled to that person, and then come offer your sacrifice to God.

The first question must be –

            Do you want to be right… or do you want to be happy?


This entry was posted in Sermons and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.