The Apostle Paul was a tent maker. It seems of late that I am a part-time fence-mender.
The Lord has begun a process in my life in 2012 of what I call “mending fences”.
“Of” Fences will come:
Being involved in the marketplace for as long as I have I have had a chance to literally minister the Word of the Lord to thousands of people and the privilege of either doing on-going ministry or business or both with hundreds.
Sometimes the business or ministry does not always go as planned; offences come, relationships get bruised at best and severed at worst. Don’t get me wrong; this may be in only in 1% of the cases, but to me 1% is too much!
Broken fences, or put another way, overstepped boundaries in either words or in deeds are sometimes a side-effect of what all of us in ministry or business that purport to be “in Christ” and “for the Kingdom” experience.
Recently I have come to terms with an offence that came with a person who will be unnamed. The hurt and divide between us was so intense that he refused to talk to me. This then led to a third party getting involved to mediate. The mediation was a success with me having to acknowledge my part of the fault and me humbling myself. I have not received any acknowledgement likewise from the other party. I don’t have to, although my flesh would like it to be honest! The point is, according to Mathew 18 he should have been willing to work this out with me first and it should not have come to mediation but it was forced on me since the other person went to a mutual friend. However, I am glad he did because it would not have offered me the opportunity to have Christ further formed within me.
Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Do you see something here in Matthew 18? Binding and loosing is related to mending fences and to dealing with conflicts and differing of opinions. This passage also talks about the power of agreement once conflicts have been resolved. We see what can happen when people do not agree but look at the power of what can happen when they do agree or at least resolve their conflict? What they agree to will be done with Heaven’s help! And, finally, when people agree and they are gathered together then the Lord Himself is there! We have His help.
In another relationship that was recently tested it was painful, actually the painful part was admitting that I was at least partially as fault in the disagreement. The even more painful piece was trying to defend myself by receiving and returning judgments. I am being brutally honest here. I am not perfect and I need the overcoming power of Christ in my life. Defending oneself in this way is potentially never ending and exhausting. It is a vicious cycle. As a result of that experience the relationship ended up totally mended and I dare say better than before. But, again I needed to humble myself and repent to my brother for my part in the disagreement.
A New Mindset:
I have realized that there were other “breaches” in my past, mostly small breaches; those relationships that had not ended in the best way or that are somewhat strained at present.
So, I have begun contacting a few other parties that the Holy Spirit has brought to my mind to mend those fences as well. The Lord reminded me when I was first launched into the ministry that I had to go back to two particular pastors and apologize. In my mid 20’s I had left their respective churches both in offense and not in the best way. Now, it was at least 5 years later. Does God hold these things as important? I know He does. I was not moving forward in the things of God. I was being hindered. I wanted to make things right with God’s delegated authorities. I wanted their blessing if it was at all possible. I needed to honor the former wineskin in my life, those that had got me to where I was. I wrote both those pastors a letter apologizing for my immature behavior and I told them that I was sorry for hurting them; finally, I asked if they would release me and bless me in what God was calling me to do. Later, as I talked with both of them on the phone in separate calls they both very much appreciated my letters and they both forgave me and blessed me. My ministry soon increased dramatically.
Fast-forward to now; the question I would like to ask is can broke or wounded relationships – breaches in the “fences” if you will, can they keep us from moving forward in God? Can they stop or hinder forward momentum in our calling? Put another way, if these people are talking behind our backs, gossiping, slandering and even what the Bible calls “tail- bearing”, even if it is ungodly and maybe even unjustified, can this affect our witness in the Body-at-large? Yes! Even our relationship with the Lord can be affected as well as our testimony and our ability to work with others who may have been “tainted” by what the other party had said. Remember, “sour grapes” affect us as if a seed is placed within us when we hear bad news about a brother or a sister. If we are not careful, this seed will lie dormant until the right time and manifest itself in replicating gossip, rumors, etc. about our brothers and our sisters. It’s like we recall something about the person and without filtering it, we accept what has been said about him perhaps months or even years prior. “Oh, yes, I heard about so and so…Let me try to remember… I remember so-and-so had an issue with him… Better be careful.”
In one way, when someone has some “news” about a brother or a sister we should say “is it OK if we talk to so-and-so about this?” This will stop most people from “sharing” with you!
Stumbling Blocks can halt your forward motion:
I think this is a season to make peace with those that we have offended in any way. This is so we can move forward without any “stumbling blocks”.
Matthew 11:2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
Jesus said blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me. Another interpretation is blessed is he who does not stumble trying to go forward with me. John was confused and had lost his compass and was wondering openly if Jesus was the Messiah. He had somehow lost his way in the transition to a new season, one in which he was to decrease and one in which Jesus and His Kingdom was to increase. Relationship problems can cause us to stumble and miss God’s best for us. Blessed is the one that can get beyond these offenses and stumbling blocks and move forward into this next Kingdom season.
Matthew 11:11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
If you catch this next part you will see a glimpse of the Coming Kingdom. If we can get beyond these types of offences that even John fell into then even the LEAST in the Kingdom of Heaven will be greater than the greatest prophet that ever lived up to that time. In other words, you can go from “Salvation Living” into “Kingdom Living”. We must enter into the Kingdom Age now!
Offenses will come:
Jesus said in Luke 17:1 that offenses will come; no matter how godly you are, you may say or do something, especially as your sphere of influence grows, that will offend someone. Someone may even hear incorrectly what you have said and pass a value judgment.
The commerce perspective:
How much business have you lost because of the original offence and for the “residual” offence (others being affected and being overly cautious at best in doing business with you and totally turned-off at worst?)
And the Kingdom?
How has the Kingdom of God been hurt because of your unattended-to offences with other parties? It may be that you just did not separate in the best way. Or it may be that you were brutally betrayed. Don’t’ wait for them to come to you and repent. What if they die in their sin? Make it better! Do what you can do. Believe me, defending yourself; even if you are 100% right (is anyone really ever 100% right?) is not worth it. I know, I have experienced this and I don’t want you to have to go through the pain that I have gone through. It is not worth it.
Eligible for promotion?
My experience is right when the Lord wants to promote me in a major way I need to fix those relationships that were hurt that helped to get me to where I am right now or maybe they have hindered me from my goals? I need to “pay the piper” so to speak and humble myself under the mighty hand of God so that He can exalt me according to I Peter 5:6 and wipe away the offences so that I can begin my new season with a clean slate. Read this paragraph again if you need to.
Most people, like me are afraid of the potential judgment and “satisfaction” or “I told you so” remarks that may come as a result from the other party making light of or not accepting our salvo. I have found that this fear never materializes. If your heart is truly one of humility in admitting that you were wrong – even if it is only 1% wrong, the counterparty will forgive you and release you and even if they don’t (another fear), you are right with God and I can almost guarantee you that the gossip and slander will be reduced and eventually stop. How can someone continue speak against a godly man or woman that has humbled himself in the sight of God and man? I challenge you. And hopefully I haven’t offended you with this article!
Copyright 2012 WISE Ministries International