Mending Fences

Mending Fences
Robert Wurtz II

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:22–24 KJV)

When we look at the world, there are major points of distinction between it and the kingdom of God. Forgiveness and love are in short supply in the world. A cursory look at the daily headlines reveals this. The devil fathered this world system and its philosophy, and there is no place for love or forgiveness in him (John 8:44). The ungodly work desperately to push Jesus Christ out of society; nevertheless, as the old saying goes, “be careful what you wish for.” 

Worldly relationships live and die on loyalty, and in a world with behaviors that keep people at each other’s throat constantly, forgiveness is a necessity. Strange it is, many want unconditional loyalty, and yet are disloyal themselves. People want love, and yet refuse to give it. They want respect, but act disrespectful. C.S. Lewis once pointed out that man is greatly unable to see his or her own faults that are clear to everyone else. People rarely see their personal contradictions. Therefor, they fall into the trap of unforgiveness and “broken fences.” The self-centeredness of the average mind leaves no road back to reconciliation. Denial typically blinds the parties involved; and blocks any hope of restoration.

The world is generally a merciless place. When someone fails they will live with that failure forever. The world will typically make your failure your identity. No matter how long ago the event took place; the person is never allowed to get past it. This is what happens in an environment of unforgiveness. Moreover, the marring of relationships is often permanent. Friends break apart and never reconcile; families break up and don’t speak for 30 years- if ever. Enemies become enemies and remain enemies. The root of bitterness and hatred runs deeper by the day. Priceless relationships can end over a few dollars; nevertheless, no amount of money could mend them. 

When Left To Themselves

The depravity of man was first revealed when Abel was killed by his own brother (Genesis 4). Abel served as an ever-present reminder to Cain’s conscience that he had disobeyed God. Cain was an evil and devilish sinner and apparently didn’t like being reminded of it (I John 3:12). He abandoned his relationship with God through blatant disobedience, and despised his relationship with his brother. Cain wasn’t “into” relationships — obviously. He was devoid of a certain type of familial love known in the Greek as stergo. He lacked what the KJV translators defined as “natural affection” (Romans 1:31). Cain had discarded the natural love that God planted in the hearts of men, that they should love their own flesh and blood (family). This spirit of hatred and revenge has followed mankind since that time and will continue to flourish in these last days (2 Timothy 3:3). 

The spirit of this evil age will culminate with the same situation that existed in Noah’s day. People were full of violence. Noah’s preaching fell on deaf ears. It had no effect. This ought to alarm us. Today the masses are inclined to offend Saints, but offer tolerance to sinners. The “spirit” of Cain is in the land. Romans 1:28-31 describes these people whom when left to themselves through reprobation, were capable of anything. Paul writes, And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful. This passage reads like the daily newspaper. 

A Reformation of Relationships

A stroll through the Old Testament reveals that the Gentiles were so wicked and violent, that they were often a threat to the very existence of mankind. People committed unconscionable acts. The pagan idol worshippers at Tophet, for example, would beat drums as they threw their babies into the sacrificial fires to drown out their screams. Pagans in North America would bag up their babies and offer them to their false gods in many cultures. Just a few miles from Furgason, MO. where rioting and violence have broken out, sits Cahokia where native Indians practiced human sacrifice like the Azteks. (click HERE)  Where do you suppose those demonic spirits went after the indians died off? As an aside, perhaps you may wonder why there is so much bloodshed in Mexico among the drug wars? Wonder no more. The same demons who led men and women to human sacrifice are still around. At the end of the day these are the things we are dealing with. 

This is why whole cultures had to be eliminated in the Old Testament. God simply could not allow that contagious and deplorable behavior to spread and fester, until every man and woman was reprobate. These people had no trace of natural affection left in them. Nevertheless, when Jesus came onto the scene, a whole new paradigm began to take root within society that has changed the course of humanity. Had Jesus not come we had already destroyed ourselves, as did the pagans of Noah’s day. Violence would be the law of the land, and forgiveness would be a word of ancient folklore. Jesus and His teachings had turned the tide of evil and cast a different light on man’s relationship with each other. Even the Jews had a lot to learn when it came to relationships; and they were the most Godly of all peoples. Cruelty in the Ancient World was the norm, but mercy would redefine the standards from which we relate to one another. 

Father Forgive Them for They Know Not What They Do

Never before had such a dichotomy of innocence and torture met on earth. Jesus, who personifies love and forgiveness, put to silence the tortuous revenge and hate when He cried out for His executioners’ forgiveness (Luke 23:34). In a figure, his blood speaks better things than that of Abel. Who ever heard of such forgiveness prior to this? So great was the influence of Jesus in those who received His Holy Spirit, that men like Stephen would emulate this attitude, crying out for mercy for his killers at his stoning in Acts 7:60. Mercy was simply unheard of at that level. The Spirit of Christ brought it to earth. So great was the impact of these events that over the centuries, people came to Christ as a consequence of the witness of these persecuted or dying saints. 

The Teachings of Jesus

The teachings of Christ have had 2000 years to extract the devil’s cruelty from society; and wherever true Christianity prevails — mercy and grace are found. Jesus taught us to love one another and to love our enemies (Luke 6:27). These were strange concepts in His day, and in many ways they still are. John the Revelator went as far as to say “he that loveth not knoweth not God- for God is love” (I John 4:8). Love comes to us in four primary forms: eros (lust), phileo (friendship), stergo (family), and agape (God’s type of love). 

The closest word we have for agape is compassion. Compassion is an undeserved love that results in tender mercy (splagchnon eleos). That is precisely what we need in this world today. We need a world where retaliation is left to God alone and where justice is meeted out – out of love. We need society to embrace the message of mercy and reconciliation. We need to return to the clear instruction of Jesus and show love to one another out of a pure heart fervently (1 Peter 1:22). We need to lay aside our corrupt hearts, prejudices, bitterness, and jealousies and begin to influence the world with the person of Jesus Christ. 

Angry Without a Cause

Some people can’t get along and they don’t know why. You ask them and they might say “I don’t like their looks!” Delving into the core of how these feelings come to be is a mystery too great for us; but one thing is certain, acting on these feelings and harboring them is unacceptable among the Saints. The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s long since forgot why they were feuding; as have the Crip’s and the Blood’s. Nevertheless, these type feelings live on in this present evil world. They are even found in families. Bitterness is boiling under the surface. This is dangerous. People are filled with hate and don’t even realize the danger they are in (Matthew 5:22). “Anger without cause” is an attitude that emperils the soul. 

The Holy Spirit will expose ill feelings and challenge them as a first point in His dealings. Sinners must stop resisting the Holy Spirit when He reveals this behavior. If it exists in a Saint, it is grieving to Him (Ephesians 4:30). We must submit to the Holy Spirit’s dealings immediately. We cannot allow the sun to go down day after day on ill feelings, until they become a permanent part of our personality (Ephesians 4:26). 

Making Reconciliation

Some people wait until it’s too late to try to get things right. They stand over the graves of friends and family teary-eyed wishing they had said they were sorry or made an attempt to reconcile. Their grief is their just reward for quenching the Spirit for years as He prompted them to make amends (Romans 1:27). Now they live with themselves. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can lay aside the stubbornness and uproot the bitterness that is poisoning our souls and souring our spirit. We can make that call or send that letter; we can find a way to break the ice. No matter whose fault it was — it is the Spiritual person who must move to restore the relationship (Galatians 6:1). God will prepare the hearts as we pray and God will give us the courage. We are not guaranteed success; nevertheless, we must make an effort.

Reconciliation is a very powerful thing. It is proof that God is at work in our lives. Anyone can stay angry and make excuses — but a true child of God will seek to reconcile broken relationships. We have to love one another. And if so be that the person will not cooperate, their blood is on their own head; that is, if we moved in unfeigned love and sincerity. Some people are not rejecting us — they are really rejecting God. Nevertheless, God has used reconciliation to transform people’s relationship with Him. He was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Could God say that of us? God was in _____ (your name here) reconciling the world to Himself? Do we have a heart of compassion and love that wants to end the strife and operate in Christian love? Can we lay aside the past? Can we put aside our emotions? Can we part with our record of wrongs? Can we heal some broken relationship? Can we mend some fences?  


The cruelty and confusion of jealousy

The cruelty and confusion of jealousy
Robert Wurtz II

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame. (Song of Solomon 8:6 NKJV)


I have given a lot of thought over the years to a great subject that has perplexed me since childhood. From the Tex Avery’s cartoons that made fun of the “mother-in-law” to the cold wars that existed in families since I can remember. In particular, I have been disturbed by watching generations of women that seemed to almost hate their mother-in-laws. I would try to objectively look at the situation and figure out why the hostility existed? Most of the time mother-in-laws are stereotyped as nosey trouble makers; but then I looked at cases where it was obvious that this was not the case. 

Hate without a cause

I watched as women would enter families hostile from the start and without cause. The situation was so serious that from childhood I trained my sons not to marry a woman that would come in and seek to divide our family through these type of unwarranted hostilities. I didn’t understand the mechanics of the phenomena, I just knew I wanted no part of it. As a youth pastor I would tell our students, “Your life will be either heaven or hell on earth, depending on who you marry.” 

No new thing under the sun

Many years have passed since those days. It seemed to me that the mother-in-law was being treated as if she were the man’s ‘Ex-wife’ or ‘Ex-girlfriend’, rather than his mother. Armed with this hunch I started to do some research and came across this article: Why wives are programmed to fight their mother-in-laws. I found it to be very insightful and a must read for all families that are struggling with these tensions. Consider some of these comments from the author:

 ‘It’s a tragedy,’ she says. ‘This impasse divides women who should have so much in common, and who could benefit from each other’s friendship. It causes both sides terrible unhappiness and distress.’ Like Dr Apter, I’m convinced that the rivalry is so ingrained that it doesn’t matter how lovely your mother-in-law is. I should know, because my mother-in-law Sharon, who’s 66, is actually a charming, kind and reserved woman. In fact, if anything, I have more in common with her than I do with my own mother. Like me, Sharon is a lawyer. Like me, she’s extremely nosy. I should have warmed to her from the outset. Yet I still managed to find fault with her and be so mean that I get embarrassed just thinking about it. She didn’t ring at inappropriate times or make snide comments about my housekeeping skills. I was just programmed to be on the defensive.”

I was quite troubled by the words, Like me, she’s extremely nosy. I should have warmed to her from the outset. Yet I still managed to find fault with her and be so mean that I get embarrassed just thinking about it.” One of the reasons she is so concerned now is that she is bracing herself for having to deal with her own sons wives when they get married. It is a sad state of affairs and ought never to be among born-again believers in the churches of God. When the mother-in-law is relegated to the position of asking all of her life, “what did I do wrong” when she had done nothing wrong at all then something is terribly amiss. Has God spoken to this matter? Indeed He has. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22 KJV)

Jealousy?

If the author of the article is right then my perceptions have been right. The question is, what to do about it? Well, obviously, there is a need of repentance on the part of the one that is angry without a cause. The writer in the article would become angry when her husband and mother would meet for lunch. She then admits to the source of the problem, “I should have been touched by his loyalty and love. Instead, I just seethed with jealousy.” 

Remedy


In Christ we are delivered from the Adamic influences of Sin, but we are still human. The remedy begins when there is an admission and acknowledgement of the problem itself. The author of the article suggests the problem is “programming” because her own mother-in-law was not the typical stereotype trouble maker, but a nice lady that she should have liked and been close to. As Christians we never have the right to just dislike a person or treat them with hostility, no matter how many excuses we can come up with. It would be a sad thing to end up in hell because of a refusal to repent of the anger without cause and treat someone so close as this with at the very least common respect. She is not his ‘Ex’, she is his mother. It is just sad to me that now the writer realizes how bad she acted towards her mother-in-law and is bracing herself for what her sons wives will do. My only advice for young married women would be not to sow such things and then you won’t be as apt to have to reap them. Treat them how you will someday want your daughter-in-laws to treat you. Sow love to your mother-in-law and it will return to you. Selah.  

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