We are in the midst of the time when people give out Valentines to each other. We share our love to the ones we care about the most by giving out candies, chocolates, flowers, and cards. When kids give out their Valentine’s cards, they give them out to everybody. They even give them out to people who they don’t really like. It can be a form of reconciliation – a way to restore relationships.
Jesus gives us SIX WAYS we can restore relationships. Let’s look at these ways as Valentine cards.
SIX DIFFERENT WAYS WE CAN RESTORE RELATIONSHIPS
1. Be my valentine, let’s stop being angry with one another.
““You have heard…Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool!’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron!’ will be subject to hellfire.” (Matthew 5:21–22, HCSB)
Jesus even says here that if you have a problem with someone – if you are angry, get it settled. Make an effort to restore the relationship.
“So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23–24, HCSB)
The problem is that we want to let it get worse, and then we don’t want to work it out. However, all it takes a simple step of love. Send a valentine. Let them know that you want to work out the problem.
2. Be my valentine, and stop treating each other like a piece of meat.
““You have heard…Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27–28, HCSB)
The problem here is that a person doesn’t value or respect the other person. As a result, I will simply go looking somewhere else. I start looking at another woman. I start thinking that she looks better than my wife and start to use her as an escape.
You know this goes both ways. We devalue people when we treat each other like a piece of meat. For men, that means that we should treat women with dignity by the way we look at them. For women, that means that we should treat men with respect by the way we speak about them.
The real way to deal with this is two-fold: As a married man (or woman) I need to work at restoring my marriage. I need to treat my spouse as the valentine, and not the other person.
3. Be my valentine, let’s work it out.
““It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce. But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31–32, HCSB)
Jesus makes the point that when two people are called to be together, they need to always be able to work it out. If we are in the business of building relationships, then we are also in the business of repairing relationships.
4. Be my valentine, let’s keep our commitments.
““Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Neither should you swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33–37, HCSB)
Jesus is making it clear here that if we say we love Him, or anyone else for that matter, we will keep commitments. It is important to note that this follows His interpretation about divorce.
There, He says: work it out. Here, He says: stick it out.
Too many people today make commitments they can’t keep. They move from relationship to relationship, from church to church, from work to work, from place to place. Sometimes, change is necessary. Many times it is not. God teaches us through our time of level-headed commitment to whatever and whoever He gives us.
5. Be my valentine, let’s “go the extra mile” for each other.
““You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38–42, HCSB)
This idea builds on the previous two: Work it out, stick it out, build it out.
I am willing not just to work out my relationship, not just stick it out with them, but if I don’t like who and what I am with, I learn to show them Christ by doing more than expected.
Many people want to do nothing. Some want to do just what is expected to get by. The true test of our character is whether we will do more than just what is expected. We go further. We sit longer. We love better.
6. Be my valentine, let’s love those who are unlovable.
““You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43–48, HCSB)
As you can see, this progression about relationships builds. Now we are not dealing with people whom we like. We are dealing with people whom we don’t like. To extend the previous metaphor: we go the extra mile in our relationships when we start to love those we consider unlovable.
You want to test your faith in Christ, start loving people who hate you.
ILLUSTRATION: LOVE HER!
I recently heard a preacher speaking of his efforts to counsel a man who was having marital trouble. He said to the man, “The Bible says husbands love your wives.”
“But I do not love her anymore,” he replied.
“Then love her as your sister in the Lord.”
“But I don’t think she is saved,” he said.
“Then love her as your neighbor.” He replied that he didn’t have any intention of being her neighbor.
Finally the preacher said “Then love her as your enemy!”1
1 Steve Trail “The Invincibility of Love” (16 August 2011) http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-sermon-central-staff-humor-marriagestruggle-81235.asp Accessed on 14 February 2014.