“BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS”                      By Pastor YAU

Text: Philippians 4:1-3                                      September 18, 2011

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)    The demolition of a stadium: On April 11, 2010 at 7:07 am, Casey Rogers, an 11-year-old boy, turned the key to begin the implosion of the demolition of the 37 years old Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. This 65,000-seats stadium took hundreds of millions of dollars and many years to build had been the home of the Dallas Cowboys football franchise from October 24, 1971 to the last home game in 2008 season in which the Cowboys lost to the Ravens. That demolition took only 25 seconds to completely bring down the whole structure to the ground. It is much easier to bring something down than to build something up.

2)    The demolition of a relationship: What is true for demolition of buildings is also true for inter-personal relationships. In Phil 4:2 Paul wrote to two women in that church, saying, “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.” The quarrel between these two women threatened to tear down the witness of the Philippians church if left unresolved. So Paul urged a “true companion” to help rebuild the broken relationship of these two women. It may take months or years to build a relationship, but that can be demolished in minutes.

 

THE BIBLE ON RELATIONSHIPS:

1)   God desired relationship: “When the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden but the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8-9) This happened right after Adam and Eve violated the commands of the Lord God about not eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. Later in the Exodus years, repeatedly God called on the Israelis to repent so He can take them back to restore the broken relationship. God wants to connect with us.

2)   God wants to help us: Pay a little closer attention to the first set of laws God gave the Israelis, the Ten Commandments, all of them are for building good relationship between God and man and man to man. From the violations done by Adam and Eve and the subsequent acts of violation in Genesis 6, God realized it is very important to set rules for people to follow to foster good relationship with God and with each other. Since God has set rules for us to follow so we may have better relationship with Him and with each other. On the sins and conflicts among the Israelis, God sent prophets to correct their vicious acts and set guidelines for them to create peace and harmonious society.

3)   Jesus, the super example: Besides the many teachings on being humble, meek, loving and forgiving, our Lord Jesus set the best example of good relationship in his dealing with opposition and enemies. He asks us to learn from him, his humility, meekness in heart and his forgiving spirit. His patience with people around Him, particularly with his enemies, exemplifies his desire for good relationships. While Jesus never sacrifices any religious or moral laws, He showed his deep desires of good relationship with all people, even with those who betrayed and disavowed him. He was always kind, gentle and giving us a second chance.

4)   Learn from the apostles: Most all the apostles wrote letters in the New Testament covered the importance of relationship. Paul wrote at least 8 times in his books to churches about the need of building peaceful relationship: “If it is possible... live at peace with everyone.” (Rom. 12:18; 2 Cor. 10:1, 13:11; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 2:17, 4:3; Col. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:22. Tit. 3:2) The fact he tried to resolve the conflicts of two women in the Philippians church and his efforts to bridge a broken relationship between a master Philemon and his servant Onesimus are the best evidence of his belief. Peter (1 Peter 3:11) and James (3:17-18) also echoed the issue. If we are serious of good relationship, we have plenty to learn and to practice.

 

HOW TO BREAK A RELATIONSHIP? Just a few examples.

1)    Breach an honest trust: Breaching a mutual trust is the fastest way to break any interpersonal relationship. After God has created all the good things in the Garden of Eden, He entrusted all of them to the care and enjoyment of Adam and his wife with specific instructions what they could and couldn’t do. (Genesis 2:15-17) God demonstrated His complete trust to the first couple and expected them to be trustworthy by taking the trust seriously. When Adam and Eve broke that trust, their intimate relationship with God was broken that caused them to hide from God. (3:8-10) We see the poison of breaching of trust in marriage, friendship, business partnership and other situation and the ugly result of a broken relationship.

2)    Cheating on the innocent: Regardless of how Jacob was chosen as the ancestor of the race of Israelis, his acts of cheating his father Isaac and brother Esau (Gen. 27:1-45) was such a vivid example on how dishonest act of cheating can do to break a relationship. You can understand how hurt it is if you have been cheated on major relational issues. Many sweet and cordial relationships were shattered because being cheated blindsided.

3)    Blind jealousy on others: The relationship was very cordial between King Saul and shepherd boy David before David helped Saul in killing the Philistine giant Goliath. But when the people praised David for what he had done, Saul became very jealous of him and plotted to kill him in fear of losing his kingdom. This is so true in today world at home, in working places, in school or any other human relationship. When we become so jealous of someone, we are blinded to see the truth and the relationship will suffer damage or may be broken.

4)    Unforgiving and self-righteous: When Paul split with Barnabas in their missionary endeavor, he was unforgiving on the failure of Mark. He was also self-righteous in rejecting both Mark and Barnabas as his partners on his future missionary trips. In all human relationships, there will be mistakes and failures on both sides sometimes and somewhere. If we are so unforgiving and so self-righteous, it is very hard not to break the relationship.

 WAYS TO RESTORE A RELATIONSHIP: (Philippians 4:1-3)

1)    Don’t sweep under the carpet: We have no clue how did Paul learn about the broken relationship between two seemingly dedicated and fervent Christian servants of the Lord, he did not shy out or pretend not to know or not to tackle the problem. Instead, Paul drove it head-on by saying: “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.” (4:2) This is not about making wave from nothing but it is necessary to face the problem in order to solve it. Too many so call leaders in many churches are so weak and afraid to pinpoint some serious problems in the church and allow them to grow until they become monster that no one can control or solve them. Whenever there is a personal problem between people, particularly leaders, it is good to solve it while you still can. 

2)    Don’t be shy to seek help: The strategy of Paul in solving the broken relationship was not an easy one, as it usually is today, so Paul sought help from someone a “loyal fellow yoke bearer” (4:3a) to help him restore a broken relationship. We don’t need to know the name of this person, but are sure he or she must be a trustworthy, respected and faithful servant Paul recognized and sought help from. This is not about spreading a problem but is about seeking help from appropriate person. We need to recognize our limitation in something and not be afraid to ask for help to achieve the maximum results.

3)    Don’t forget their contributions: While Paul drove the nail on the head, addressed a broken relationship between two women in the church, he did not forget to mention their faithfulness and contribution to the gospel ministry. He said: “These women had contended on my side in the cause of the gospel...their names are in the Book of Life.” (4:3b)This is a wonderful way to solve all human problems: be even handed, be fair and be positive. Do not overlook their good side, their dedication, contribution and recognition they deserve when we point out some failures in their life. We need to remember the good side of both parties as we try to help them restore a broken relationship.

4)    Don’t forget mutual accountability: Too often, we treat broken relationship between two persons as a private, personal problem so we tend to leave it untouched. But we need to know that any broken relationship, be it at home, at work, among friends, will eventual affect others. Paul wanted to get involved because it was personal to him to see the broken relationship restored. He call these two women, along with all others in that church: “You whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord.” (4:1)Paul realized that the sisters and others in that church are accountable to each other to Paul and to the Lord. We are all in the family of God. Anytime we have a problem, we need to solve it in proper ways so everyone involved will be blessed and receive proper honor.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   It is not the end of the world: We all want to see our relationship with people last for a long, long time. And some of them may do just that. But if one of them doesn’t last as long as you want it to, it is never the end of your world either. There are ways we can mend a broken net when it suffers damages. Follow the above steps to restore a broken relationship. With love, sincerity and patience, you will succeed.

2)   It is better if it isn’t broken: No human relationship is built to be broken if both sides have the proper attitude and intention. Try hard not to do things that may cause it to break. If you truly treasure a relationship, you should do all you can to protect it from harm so it will last long. It takes both sides to build a good relationship, but it takes only one side to break it. Hope that you are not that one side.

3)   The most important relationship: Among all the relationships we may build, the most important one is that with God. This is your ultimate relationship for your soul and eternity. With a strong tie with God, you don’t have to worry anything about how to live in the world.