Conflict Week 7: Unhealthy Conflict

Sermon Transcript

[Video]

Everyone knows conflict is part of life. There are some who tell stories of strength in relationships, marriages, churches and businesses because of conflict. But, the vast majority of stories seem to have another ending. Most people would love to hear a magic cure for conflict, but we all know that doesn't exist. Conflict even abounds throughout the pages of Scripture within people, between people, within groups and between groups. Sometimes it was handled in a godly fashion, but more often than not, it wasn't.

What if we could resolve conflict better? What if we could grow from it? What if we could learn from it? Maybe, just maybe, that starts now.

[End Video]

Well, good morning to everybody and good morning, also, to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We are finishing up a series called “Conflict.” If this is your first time, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, man. I’m coming in at the last part of a series.”

Don’t worry. Let me put you at ease. I always try to bring everybody back up to speed before I start to speak. We’ve been dealing with conflict. I mean, the title says it all. I think we all would agree that conflict sort of rears it’s ugly head in all kinds of places in our lives. Marriages, relationships, family meetings, jobs and even in church. In fact, and I want to say this before I say this next story, when I tell a story or if it’s a joke, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s theologically accurate. Okay? I just want to lay that out there so nobody sort of thinks that I’m half crazy.

But, I heard that conflict even exists in heaven. This pastor had passed away and when he awoke, he was there. He knew he was right there at the gates of heaven. And it was a little odd because there was a little podium outside of the gate and there was a guy standing behind it. Right in front of the pastor was another guy. Sort of a strange cat. He had this sort of Tommy Bahama shirt on. It was red with some yellow. He had on a pair of cutoff jeans. It looks like he’d had a pair of jeans that he’d worn for a long time and he had cut them off and they were sort of hanging the threads. He had on some sandals. The pastor could swear he smelt smoke.

The guy behind the podium says, “Name?”

He says, “Kevin Williams. I’m a taxi cab driver in New York City.”

The guy says, “Yep. You’re on the list,” and he goes back behind this little partition and comes back out with the most beautiful robe you have ever seen in your entire life and a 24-karat gold staff. And he says, “Come on in.”

The pastor’s like, “Oh, man. This is crazy.”

So, he goes up and the guy says, “Name?”

He says, “My name’s Joe Smith. Pastor of Saint Mary’s.”

He’s like, “Well, let’s see here. Yep. You’re on the list.”

He’s like, “Better be! I was a pastor.”

He says, “Well, hold on for a second.”

He goes back behind the partition and he brings out this mangled, wooden cane that looks like driftwood and hands it to him. The guy’s like, “Dude, there’s something wrong here. I was a pastor. The guy before me – I mean, you saw what it was and you saw what you gave him.”

The guy behind the podium says, “Hey. Calm down. You need to get something straight, dude. Up here in heaven, it’s all about results. And when you preached, people slept. When he drove, people prayed.”

So, there you go. Alright. So, we’re dealing with conflict, even up there in heaven. But, the reality is we’ve been dealing with some real and raw issues. We looked at marital conflict. Last week, we looked at some issues related conflict and how we handle those types of things. And this weekend we’re going to deal with something – it’s interesting. I actually said to somebody, one of the people that comes to Grace, what I was going to talk about this week and the response was, “That’s going to be interesting, because all I’ve ever heard about this type of stuff is just go pray about it. Nobody ever talks about this type of stuff.”

So, what we’re going to talk about this weekend is what happens when unhealthy meets conflict. When it’s not conflict that you can handle in your own strength. It’s not conflict that you can maybe wash somebody’s feet and it would be okay or get a Pastor involved and sit down and have a counseling session. This is the unhealthy conflict of life. And some of you are going, “Man, I’ve been waiting for this and I’ve got you. You’re with me.”

But, some of you are probably thinking, “Man, I don’t have any unhealthy conflict in my life.”

Hold on though. You probably know people who do. And, even if you don’t know anybody that has unhealthy conflict and you have no unhealthy conflict, hear the heart of your pastor. Make sure you hear me here. You want to put these tools in your toolbox, because you never know when that unhealthy conflict is going to happen.

So, I want everybody to really lean in here, because this is some tough stuff. When we talk about unhealthy conflict, what are we talking about? We’re talking about abuse.

“What do I do when I’m in a relationship, Chip, where I’m verbally abused on a regular basis? What do I do, Chip, when I’m in a relationship where there’s physical abuse? How do I handle that? What do I do as a Christian? How about estrangement, Chip? I’ve got a family member that I haven’t talked to for three years. I’ve got a dad that I don’t connect with. I’ve got a mom that I’m estranged with. I’ve got people that I used to be friends with that there’s now all kinds of conflict. How do I handle that? What do I do?”

How about, “What do I do with my ex? It’s tough. There’s no relationship.”

Maybe you have kids together and you do all that stuff. I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking, “Man, this slide is a bright ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.”

I know you’re thinking about that. But, we want to deal with real and raw issues here. We want to be able to deal with it. What do you do with this stuff? I mean, I’ve been in church a long time and I’ve never heard anybody deal about this stuff. This is stuff that we normally sidestep. We’re not going to sidestep any of this stuff because I believe, as your pastor, that it’s my job to equip you to live real life. I could get in here and get you excited and tell you about how good God is. There’s times and places for that. But, there’s also times and places to get real and raw about these situations. So, I want you to really listen and at least put some tools in our toolbox here to deal with this type of stuff.

Before I get there, I want to whet your appetite and get us all thinking a little bit about this idea of unhealthy conflict. There’s a story in the Bible. You all like when I tell the stories of the Bible. There’s a story in the Bible that I would say probably is the greatest case of unhealthy conflict. If it’s not, it’s definitely in the top three. It’s the story of David and the story of King Saul. There’s some real unhealthy conflict and there’s some real principles that we can see in this particular story.

Now, I’m of the opinion that to understand the Saul and David saga, you have to read larger than just the story that we normally know about David; the David and Goliath story. I mean, even if you’re here today and you’ve never been to church, you’ve probably heard David and Goliath at some point. If you’re watching via the internet or mobile app, you’re going, “I’ve heard David and Goliath.”

What I’d like to challenge you to do – listen, I want you to read your Bibles. I don’t care how you read your Bibles. I want you to read your Bibles. But, traditionally when we read our Bibles, we read them by story, by chapter or by a devotionally. And I think we miss the larger narrative when we do that. For instance, I’ll just share my own personal life. If I sit down to read the book of Acts, I want to read the book of Acts in its entirety; not separated up, read two chapters, two chapters, two chapters, two chapters. Because, what I find is is that I don’t see the flow of what Luke is doing.

So, I would encourage you in these stories, when we read them, that there’s maybe more going on than just the David and Goliath story. In fact, when we meet David, we meet David where Samuel the Prophet has come to anoint one of Jesse’s boys as king. Isn’t it interesting? We all know the song “Jesse’s Girl,” and the Bible has “Jesse’s Boy.”

So, Samuel comes to anoint David and nobody thinks that David should be anointed king. They just think he’s sort of this dude. Well, he anoints David and we start learning a little bit about David. We learn that David, in his life, is a young man that loves God and he has slain a bear and a lion. So, God has taken this young man and not only has He developed him spiritually, but He’s developed him in a very heroic way. Which means when the next stage of David’s development – which the first stage would be to conquer that bear and lion, the next stage was to conquer this guy, Goliath.

David had learned a lot of skills wrestling with those bigger animals. He learned that being at a distance from them was better than being up close. And better than getting in front of Goliath and wrestling with him, he used his sling and his stone and he cast it from a distance and struck this giant dead. And we see here at the story where the giant’s body is there and his head is severed from his body. Most of us read that story and we go, “Okay. That’s great. That’s fantastic.”

But, the writer of Samuel is writing deeper than that. David is being prepared at each stage to deal with an even bigger giant. The bigger giant that David’ going to have to deal with is King Saul. But, this giant is not going to be able to be taken out with heroism plus God. It’s only going to be able to be taken out with God only. God is preparing King David’s heart to be at a place where he trusts God above everything else. Even his own skills. Because, God knows that he’s really going to face the biggest giant later in his life when he’s on his rooftop and he sees Bathsheba. Unfortunately, he fails in those moments and he goes back to using all of his skills and talents on how he can get rid of Uriah and how he can get rid of all the stuff.

God is in the process during that. And we see the story of Saul. When Saul is killed, what happens? His head is severed from his body. This is all written together. It’s a wonderful story and it’s showing us how David is being prepared by God to deal with these giants that he faces. One of the big giants he faces is this unhealthy conflict with Saul that he cannot solve in his own strength. He’s going to have to listen to the Lord and trust God.

So, let’s join the story here and see what’s going on. I think we’ll get some really good stuff from it. We’re going to read out of 1 Samuel 18 and then I’m going to jump to 22 here in a minute.

It says, “So David went out wherever Saul sent him.”

David was a good guy. David honored Saul. You know, one of the – and this is not part of the message, but just something I want to share sort of as a side. One of the things that we fail, in my opinion, as Christians, to do is to realize that when God has put people over us, we’re not serving them to serve them. We’re serving God by serving them. David caught that concept. He went out wherever Saul sent him. And look at what happened. He prospered.

See, a lot of times we think of the person above us and we can’t stand them or whatever and so on and so forth. But, we’re called as Christians to treat those that are above us in the best way that we can because we ultimately are serving God, not them. David got that and he prospered.

“Saul sent him over the men of war and it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.”

Now, when you’re reading this, you should go, “Okay. Let’s see. The people liked it. Saul’s servants liked it. There’s something that’s missing there. It doesn’t say that Saul liked it. Okay? And when you’re reading that, you’re getting setup here for what is going to happen.

It says, “So it happened.”

And I can tell you I’ve lived life long enough to tell you that it happens.

“It happened, as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet the King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments.”

This would be very common for a king coming back from war for the women to come out and sing and dance and shout and all of that. And all of this is normal until we get to the next verse here where it’s like the proverbial record just gets scratched and you know that something is going to happen.

“The women sang as they played and said, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’”

All of a sudden you know probably Saul is not going to like that verse in the song, right?

So, it says here, “Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?’”

“This guy’s going to take my job. This guy’s going to take my kingship.”

“So Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.”

And then the story sort of picks up and we see that Saul has so much hatred for David that he wants to kill him. And he starts putting David into war positions to where he should die, but he doesn’t. He says to David, “Hey, you like my daughter?”

And David’s like, “Your daughter is hot.”

That’s not in the Bible. I promise. I was trying to keep your attention here. You’ll be like, “Is that in the Bible? Where was that at in 1 Samuel?”

It’s not. It’s not even in the Hebrew. But, Saul says, “You like my daughter?”

He says, “I like your daughter.”

He says, “Well, here’s what you can do. If you want my daughter, I want you to go out and collect 100 foreskins from some Philistines.”

Can I tell you something? I don’t care how bad your boss is. No matter how bad your boss is, your boss ain’t never told you to go get 100 foreskins from some Philistines. Alright? I mean, this guy is a bad dude. And what does David do? David comes back with 200. David is a good man. He’s showing his honoring of Saul. Well, Saul’s just irritated and can’t stand him. Not like where nobody’s looking. At dinner Saul will pick up a spear and throw it at David to pin him to the wall and to kill him in front of everybody.

I mean, it’s a hostile environment. I mean, this thing is bad. It’s ugly. It is an unhealthy conflict. It’s so bad that David realizes that every time he stands up, Saul may throw the spear at him and hit him. And what we find here in the next couple of chapters later is David departed from there and escaped to the cave. David realized, “I can’t really stay in this relationship. I’ve got to do something because this is going to kill me if I stay here.”

What I want to do is I want you to get out a sheet of paper or your iPads or however you take some notes and I really would encourage you to write these things down. Because, I want to give you some real tools for unhealthy relationships.

“What do I do, Chip, in an unhealthy relationship? Can you give me any help at all?”

That’s what I’m trying to do here and I think these are things that we can take with us today that will make a difference in our lives. The first thing I would tell you is that unhealthy conflict isn’t always ownable. You probably think, “What does that mean?”

Let me explain. I used to run a business. If you’ve ever run a business or you’ve been in business or even if you’re in a church, there’s always problems. Something doesn’t happen. We’re humans. We fail at some level. So, what I would always do is I would bring in people that work for me and I would say, “What part of the problem can we own? What can we own about this?”

And we would sit down and talk about what we had done wrong as a company and what we could do to fix our part of the problem. So, when we’re in relationships, we can all agree that many times we need to own our part. In other words, there’s something that we need to do, something that we need to take hold of, something that we need to say, “Hey, this is something I need to take responsibility for.”

To do that, the best prayer in the Bible to pray at that time is Psalm 139. “Search me, O God. Know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there’d be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way. God, show me what is going on in my heart.”

However, in some of the unhealthy conflicts that we find ourselves in, it’s beyond our control. It’s not ownable. David couldn’t own what was going on in this relationship. He couldn’t. Because, he didn’t go to the girls and say, “Hey, when we come in and we’re riding the horses on the way in, will you all say that I’ve killed ten thousand and he’s only killed a thousand?”

He could own that. He didn’t do that. He didn’t go against Saul. In fact, he loved Saul. He didn’t try to usurp Saul’s throne. He served him in every way. There was nothing about the unhealthy conflict that David found himself in that he could rightly own. It was beyond him at this point. And many of you are there. You’re in a relationship and you just don’t know what else I can do. I’ve made the phone call. I’ve sent the email. I’ve said the prayers. I’ve done all that I can do and I keep going after this unhealthy relationship. I keep trying in so many ways and I keep getting disappointed and I keep getting hurt and I keep getting stepped on.

I want to tell you as your pastor – I want to give you some permission here and I want to give you some grace. There’s some relationships that you find yourself in that you just can’t own and you just need to be okay with that. It’s okay. It’s beyond your control. And oftentimes we have these relationships and because we’re Christians, we want to do everything that we can. But, we keep trying and trying and we keep getting hurt and hurt. Sometimes we’ve got to step back and say, “You know what? In some of these unhealthy relationships, I can’t own it.”

The second thing I would tell you is even though you might not be able to own some of this stuff, unhealthy conflict is an opportunity for God to work in you and me. One of the things we see about David is even though he couldn’t change Saul, even though he couldn’t work with Saul, even though he tried to honor Saul, he had to get out of town. But, what God did in David’s heart in that process was unbelievable. He created in David a heart after God.

Would you believe that the majority of the Psalms that you and I read – in fact, the Psalms are the most read part of the Bible throughout the world. We read the Psalms because we can relate. There are times of questioning and hurt. Those Psalms were penned while David was on the run from Saul. They’re beautiful because David is questioning things. God is working in David’s heart. So, when we have this unhealthy conflict, even though maybe we can’t change it or we can’t control it or we can’t own all of it, what we can do is say, “God, what are you doing in me?”

See, Paul realizes this. Paul says, “The sufferings of this present time, all the junk that goes on in our lives, are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to you and me.”

The stories of the patriarchs, the stories of the people in the Bible are the stories of people that had difficulties, but God always came through as a champ. You see, Joseph doesn’t understand why he’s being sold by his brothers to Egypt. He doesn’t understand why Potiphar’s wife is lying about him. He doesn’t understand why he gets thrown in prison. But, at one point in Genesis 50, he looks back and he realizes that God’s hand of providence was in all of the sufferings and all of the junk to lead him to the place that he was at that point.

It’s the story of creation. When God comes upon the world, what is it? It’s a briny sea. It’s dark. There’s no life. It’s without form and it’s voidless. And what does He do? Well, He hovers with His Spirit. He speaks His word and light shines on the world and He starts to create this beautiful creation.

That’s why Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, that you and me are a new creation in Christ Jesus. God is taking all of the difficulties in our lives and He is shaping them and forming them into something beautiful. The reason we can endure difficulty as Christians is because we know the end of the story. See, if there’s no end of the story, if there is now God, if this world is all that there is, then we’ve got to do everything that we can to get out of despair and distress the moment we get into it. But, if we’re Christians, we can endure the sufferings of the present time because we know that there is a glory to be revealed. That’s one of the great Christian hopes of all time is that we know what the end of the story says. And the end of the story is going to end the way the end of the story is.

It’s like me. I love, love, love Kentucky basketball. I love Kentucky basketball. And anybody who’s a Christian would. I’m just kidding. But, I love Kentucky basketball and there’s those games where you were down but you’ve recorded them and you know that you win. Those are so much better to watch than the ones when you’re down and you don’t know the outcome. You follow what I’m saying? We know the outcome, folks. And that’s why we can have hope and we can say, “God, download into me what’s going on.”

So, when we’re going through these things, we can say, “God, what can I learn from this? I mean, I can’t control this. I can’t own all this. He’s throwing spears at me. There’s not a whole lot I can do. I don’t want to get speared. But, what can I learn? Is there something I can learn from this? Maybe I can learn that I have an opportunity, when I’m going to be king, of being the best spear thrower in the kingdom or being the one that’s known for being a person after God’s own heart. What can I learn from this? God, who can I help with this? Would there be somebody that I could maybe help? Is there somebody I could maybe teach later on in life? Or, God, how about this? Could this potentially work out with a great testimony? Is it possible? It doesn’t work out for David and Saul. Saul’s killed. It ends up in a bad way. But, God, is it possible? Is it possible that it could possibly work out with hope?”

Let me tell you something. What the world is looking for today more than anything is hope. They want to believe that there’s something more, and we have the greatest message of all. And if we approach the unhealthy conflict with some of these questions and with the potential for hope, it’ll make a big difference.

In fact, talking about hope, there was a plane that was going down. On the plane, there were four people that were left and three parachutes. One guy said, “Hey, guys. I’m a cardiologist. My patients need me.”

He grabbed one and jumped out of the plane. The next guy says, “Well, hey. Guys, I’m a rocket scientist. I’m probably the smartest guy in the world. My country needs me.”

He grabbed one and jumped out. Well, it left two guys. One was an older aged pastor. The other was a 10-year-old boy dressed in a Boy Scout uniform. The pastor looked at the young boy and said, “Listen. I’m an older man. I know the Lord. I know I’m going to go to heaven. Take the parachute and save yourself.”

The Boy Scout looks up at him and is like, “Pastor? Today is our day, buddy. We’ve got some hope. You know rocket scientist? Smartest guy in the world? He jumped out with my backpack.”

Sometimes we need some hope, right?

Third – and this is a big one. This is a big one for us to get. Unhealthy conflict usually tells us more about our relationship with God than anything else. This is a great barometer when you’re going through these times of real difficulty. It really shows us who we are as Christians, because we’re called to love, right? We’re called to be people that are people of love. And we’ve said over and over in this series that love has two sides to it. And we can disagree over the words, but I think the categories are there. Love has the side that is accepting. It’s like, “Hey, you’re my son and I love you even though you flunked out of school. I still love you. I don’t like that you flunked, but I still love you. I love you because I accept you.”

But then there’s the part of the tough love. “If you don’t get your act together, though, then I’m going to have to come in here and do these things.”

So, love always sort of has this balance of being accepting and also having the time where you say, “Hey, I love you enough not to let you do that. I love you enough not to see you do that.”

The problem is that when we get in unhealthy conflict, trying to keep these things together becomes difficult and we usually flip to one side more than the other and we go deficient in that side. So, on tough love what happens is we get so angry and upset that we end up, at times, hating the person. So, “I told them not to do this. I said not to do this.”

And then what happens is because they don’t do it you get frustrated, you get angry and you find yourself burning in rage against that person. And at that point, we just need a healthy dose of 1 John. If someone says I love God and hates his brother, he’s a liar. That’s not where we go. For the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen can’t love God whom he has not seen.

And this commandment that we have from him that the one that loves God should love his brother also. So, we see here as Christians that we can’t go deficient in the tough spot. But, I will tell you most Christians don’t go deficient there. They go deficient on the accepting side and what they do is they create a license. They create a license to just continue to do the same old thing and the same old thing every time. And you see if oftentimes when I counsel people. They’ll say, “Listen. I’m in this relationship. It’s broken. I don’t know what to do. I’ve sent letters. They never respond. I make a phone call. It’s ugly. I try this.”

And it’s like they just keep going back and going back and going back. And all they’re doing is creating the other person to have a license to continue to do the same things and they continue to get hurt. So, I’m speaking to a lot of you when I say this: Love is not gladly accepting unhealthy. God has not asked you to sign up to go, “Okay. Every time I try to be nice, I get beat up. But, I’m going to go do it again because that’s what love looks like.”

That’s not true. That’s absolutely, categorically untrue. And I want to make a partition between something. When you and I are called to go out and preach about Jesus, and by preaching Jesus we are persecuted, then yes. We go to the point of death without resistance. That’s clearly in Scripture. But, in interpersonal relationships, God has not called us to be a doormat. God is not saying you need to gladly accept unhealthy. Love is not putting yourself out for whatever unhealthy it is again and again and again.

And I find so many people will say, “But, I just want this relationship to get fixed.”

Okay. That’s the problem. The problem is you’re wanting it to get fixed rather than wanting to look like God in the relationship. And love is not putting yourself out to get hurt again, again, again, again, and again. Because then what you’re doing is you’re taking the accepting side of love and you’re going deficient and you’re creating a license for that person to do the things that they do. And that’s not healthy for them or for you and it doesn’t provide an opportunity for you both to have a realistic opportunity to see God work in your life.

Which is why the fourth thing is that sometimes you simply have to create boundaries. And we Christians just don’t like that term. Because we go, “But, aren’t we supposed to love?”

Yes.

“Aren’t we supposed to turn the other cheek?”

Absolutely.

“Aren’t we supposed to forgive?”

Absolutely. But, sometimes you’ve got to do what David did. David departed from there and escaped to a cave. He realized – and, you know, when I was putting this together and I was praying over this because I knew this was going to be real sensitive for people here at church. I knew there are people that are really struggling with stuff. I have an iPad. It’s funny. They call me PC, but I use Mac products. So, I’ve got my iPad out and I’ve got my pen and I penned this on one of my apps and I thought this was profound:

“God never intended for David to throw spears back at Saul, but He also never intended for David to continually place himself in the path of the spear.”

I want you to hear that. God didn’t intend for David to pick the spear back up. That’s not what we do. We don’t throw spears back. But, he didn’t intend for David to stay there to where eventually he was going to get pinned to the wall. It’s really hard to have a devotional when you’re looking for the spear that’s coming next. It’s really hard to have a real attitude of prayer when you are having to look for the spear that’s coming.

See, David leaving was David trying to do his best to give Saul an opportunity to come to his sense. But, more importantly, it was a place for David to go that would help him continue in his relationship with God. And sometimes in unhealthy relationships we need some boundaries. In fact, I would tell you this: Boundaries show that you respect you. There’s nothing wrong with that. I know people say, “Well, aren’t I supposed to be giving?”

Yes.

“Aren’t I supposed to be turning the other cheek?”

Yes.

“Aren’t I supposed to be loving towards my brother?”

Yes. But, that doesn’t mean that you do it to the detriment of where you have no value. I want to speak to you this morning and let you know something: You have value and you have dignity. You are created in the image of God. You are God’s son and daughter. You’ve been redeemed, not by gold but by the precious blood of the Lamb. You are a royal priesthood. You’re a chosen generation. I mean, you matter to God. You know? Some of you are like, “Yeah. Alright.”

Others of you are trying to figure it out. It’s okay to clap here at Grace. I don’t know. Is it in the bulletin: “Don’t clap while the preacher speaks?” I’m not quite sure. We need to get that out of there. But, the point is you matter. And sometimes it’s okay to say, “You know what? I need to put a boundary because I do respect myself.”

And can I tell you something? You can’t give something that you don’t have. You can’t turn the cheek that you don’t have. You can’t love the enemy if you’re not around. Sometimes you just need to respect you and let that happen. The second thing I would tell you is that boundaries help you decide beforehand what you’re going to tolerate. This is something that we don’t think through often, but it’s the truth. Sometimes we get ourselves in situations where we get really hurt and beat up because we haven’t decided beforehand, “Hey, I’m not taking this anymore.”

Have you ever noticed – I’ll jump to another subject. Have you ever noticed that when you don’t have a budget and you don’t pay any attention to what is in your bank account how you tend to not do very well with your money? Anybody ever notice that one? Money talks, right? It says “goodbye.” You ever notice that?

See, sometimes we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do before we do it so that we make really good decision. Boundaries help you decide beforehand what you’re going to tolerate.

“I’m not doing this anymore. I’m not going to do this and have this result anymore, because it doesn’t help anybody. It doesn’t help them because it just continues to let them do the things that they’re doing, and that’s not healthy. And it continues to hurt me, and that’s not healthy.”

So, it helps me decide beforehand what I’ll tolerate. Boundaries also aren’t to punish others. We don’t create boundaries like, “Ha. I’m going to get you back, man. You’re scum.”

That’s not biblical Christianity. They’re not there to hurt anybody. They’re there to protect you. I mean, I’ve seen so many people that have so many bad relationships with people and they keep putting themselves out and they mean so well but they keep getting beat up and hurt and discouraged and despondent and depressed because they keep trying.

Boundaries that say, “Hey, I’m going to respect myself and I’m going to decide beforehand what I’m going to tolerate,” – what they do is they protect you. Ultimately, because they protect you, they don’t just provide opportunities for others to change, they provide space for you and me to grow. Oftentimes, we can’t grow in the middle of dysfunction. We can’t grow in the middle of problems. We can to some degree, but you can’t grow when you’ve got spears being chucked at you. You’ve got to get out of that place for a little bit to figure out what’s going to go on in your life and how God can process that in your life.

And I want to give you some permission. Not to be difficult, not to be prideful, not to be arrogant about it. But, I want to give some of you some permission to set some boundaries in these unhealthy relationships, because they’ll not only allow the other person to have an opportunity to change, but they will allow you to have an opportunity to grow. And that’s huge.

Here’s what I want to do. I know many of you have unhealthy conflict in your life and I know many of you know people that do have unhealthy conflict in their life. I want to just pause for a minute and I want to pray. I want to pray for you and I want to pray for those people that you know, because I believe that God can do a great work in our lives and in our church with this issue. Let’s bow our hands, if you would.

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to You humbly. Lord, I not only pray for those that are here right now in the immediate hearing of my voice, but I pray, Lord, for the literally hundreds and thousands that watch these videos online as well and on the mobile app that is there listening and watching. This prayer’s for them as well.

Lord, unhealthy conflict is a part of many of our lives. Lord, many of us are struggling right now with how to handle that estranged relationship or the abuse or how do we handle the ex. God, I pray right now in Jesus’ name that some of the things that were shared today would help them in some small way to move forward and to learn how to navigate these difficult, difficult subjects of life. Lord, I believe that You, through this series here at Grace, are creating a church that can seize conflict for You. Not only in our midst, but in our communities.

Lord, I believe we’ve got some tools for our toolbox to be able to navigate in a way that we’ve never navigated before the conflict of our lives. And I pray, Lord Jesus, right now, for Your glory and for Your honor, for those that are in unhealthy conflict or those that know people that are. Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name that You would bring some download and some help and some comfort. And ultimately, Lord, I pray that we would draw strength from Your Word and realize that sometimes we simply need to get away for a little while so that You can work in both parties.

And Lord, I pray that if there is conflict in Your house today or that those that are watching online, Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name that You would bring some strength, peace, grace and victory in their lives for Your glory and for Your honor. Lord, we love You and we thank You. In Jesus’ name we pray, and everybody said, “Amen.”

Can we give the Lord a big hand clap for His goodness and His mercy?

I truly hope that this series has been beneficial to you. I’ve done my best to try to give you some good, practical advice that’s biblical. I really hope that as a church we’ll see that God is really calling us to do some great things. God really, I believe, has put us here to reach this town in a positive way and in a way maybe that they’ve not seen before. Let’s seize that moment. I just would, once again – please think about this coming weekend as we start a new series. There’s never a better time to bring somebody in than at the beginning of a series. That person that maybe you’ve been struggling with or thinking about? Invite them. What do you have to lose, you know? Just ask them. Say, “Hey, come on.”

Buy them lunch afterwards. You know? Do something different. Tell them you’ll go to a movie with them. Whatever you’ve got to do. But, let’s do something great for the Kingdom of God. God’s done some great things for us. Let’s return the favor. I believe that we can turn Lakewood Ranch upside down. I believe that there can be a book somewhere in history that’s written later on in life that says, “Man, there was this great move of God that swept this city called Lakewood Ranch,” and I want to be a part of that. I believe you do too.

So, let’s take the truths that we’ve learned in this series and let’s try to put them in our lives. If you would, I want to close with a word of prayer and we’ll get out of here.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and Your mercy. Thank You, Lord, for leading us and guiding us in every step of our lives. I pray, God, that You’d bring us back safety to when we meet again. Help us, Lord, to seize the moment and invite maybe that friend or family member as we start a new series next weekend.

Lord, thank You for this series. Thank You for what you’ve taught us. Thank You for what you’re doing in our life and our church and in our city. Lord, we just love You and thank You for it. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “amen.”

Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.