Growing Up in the Lord - My Relationships with Others

1. Introduction: To begin this lesson, read Matthew 18 and Romans 12:14-21.

A. Satan wants to divide people and make enemies. Jesus wants to unite people and make peace.
B. Christians should not be slaves to anger and resentment as many other people are. o Broken relationships serve Satan and hurt the work of Jesus in saving the world.
C. Imperfect human beings will always have their differences and problems With each other. But Jesus teaches us how to avoid many problems and quickly solve the ones that do come.

2. Pride: The Greatest cause of conflicts between people is pride and self-centeredness. (Matthew 18:1-5)

A. What were Jesus' disciples arguing about? (Matthew 18:1; Luke 22:24)
B. If we are always concerned about who is the greatest brightest, best, smartest, richest, most loved, has most authority, or should be treated best, etc., will we be more likely or less likely to run into conflict with others?
C. According to Jesus, what must we do to "self" if we are to follow him? (Matthew 16:24-25)
D. What did Paul say has happened to the "self" of a Christian? (Romans 6:6)
E. Did Jesus, our example, insist on his rights, or did he voluntarily lay them down because he loved others? (Philippians 2:5-8)
F. Should my main aim be to please myself, or to be redemptive toward others as Jesus was? (Romans 15:1-3)
G. If we "bear crosses" and "lose" our lives (or rights) to make it better for others, what will we "find?" (Matthew 16:25)
H. What is the guideline for all our relationships? (Ephesians 5:21)
I. Is this the way the world thinks? (Are Christians different?)

3. We Cannot Afford the Cost Of Broken Relationships: (Matthew 18:6)

A. How bad is it for a person to be the cause of offense or sin in another person's life? (Matthew 18:6-7)
B. If I have done wrong to another person and have not cleared up the matter or made it right, what does Jesus say about my worship to God? (Matthew 5:23-24)
C. If a wronged person will not forgive, can he receive the grace and forgive¬ness of God? (Matthew 6:14-15)
D. When a person is filled with resentment and bitterness, how do you think it affects the emotional climate of his family or his church?
E. What is necessary before outsiders can believe in Christ and be saved? (John 17:20-21; Philippians 2:14-16)
F. If our fights and divisions disgust outsiders so that they fail to believe in Christ, who will be partly blamed for the loss of their souls on the Day of Judgment?

4. Things That Offend: Because conflicts with others can threaten our own salvation and that of others, we must determine the things that offend and take them away. (Matt.18:7-14)

A. When we look for the causes of trouble between ourselves and another per¬son, where does Jesus tell us to start? (Matthew 7:1-5).
B. It will help to study and list the things in you that upset the other person.
C. Are you reacting too strongly to ordinary faults within the other person? In an imperfect world, people are not going to stop doing things that offend us. Much of the solution has to be in controlling our reaction to the wrongs. How does love react? (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
D. We should be as willing to give up things that cause sin and conflict as we would be to give up (Matthew 18:8-9)
E. A Christian should even be willing to be wronged rather than prolong an ugly conflict with another person. (1 Corinthians 6:7; Matthew 5:39-41)
F. If something I enjoy causes spiritual problems for another person, what should I be willing to do? (Romans 14:13-15,19-21)

5. Jesus' Example: Jesus has given us a way to clear up conflicts and deal with wrongs. (Matthew 18:15-20; 5:23-26)

A. What are the three steps Jesus gives for dealing with a person who has done wrong to you? (Matthew 18:15-17)
B. When one person has wronged another, does Jesus say which of them should be the first to go to the other? (Matthew 18:15; 5:23-24)
C. What, then, is important?
D. With what attitude or spirit should you approach a wrongdoer in order to help him? (Galatians 6:1)
E. Considering the damage that a lasting conflict does, how quickly should we try to resolve our conflict with another person? (Matthew 5:25; Ephesians 4:26)

6. We Must Forgive As God Forgives: (Matthew 18:21-35.)

A. Whose job is it to pay back people who do wrong? (Romans 12:19-20)
B. Why does our own salvation depend on forgiving others? (Matthew 6:14-15)
C. Who gains an opportunity when we keep anger and resentment in our hearts? (Ephesians 4:26-27)
D. Who is our example in forgiving others? (Luke 23:33-34)
E. Do you think forgiveness is a feeling or a decision? (Can a feeling be commanded?)
F. When people mistreat us, instead of paying back evil for evil, we Christians are to overcome evil with. (Romans 12:20-21.)

7. Summary: Many marriages, church fellowships, and working relationships have been saved and kept together simply because the people involved valued the relationship enough to do what it took to keep harmony. Little strains in relationships, like little tears in a garment, must be mended before they grow bigger. We must be willing to communicate or say "sorry" whenever it is needed. We can and must keep our relationships right. Our relationship to God depends on our relationship to others. Only when Jesus is Lord of our relationships can our lives be filled with his grace and power.