Barriers to Church Unity & Harmony
Angry Attitudes, Buried Bitterness & False Forgiveness
If we say we love God, then we must also love each other.
 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In the midst of the many battles that occur in today’s churches, among the most devastating of all hindrances is being unwilling to forgive and critical, unloving attitudes among believers.
In our day of immorality gone wild it may seem strange to say that relational bitterness and unkindness are actually the biggest hindrances, but surveys leave no doubt that these barriers are far more common than even sexual immorality!
 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,  but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
1. What does God’s word tell us about forgiveness between believers?
2. Why is obedience in this area of great importance to us?
There is little worse in GOD’s eyes than believers harboring bitterness or unkindness toward other believers. The Bible is very clear that nothing displeases God or quenches spiritual power more than underlying bitterness and unkindness to others.
 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
1.What is expected of Christians in their actions and speech toward one another?
2.When we forgive a brother or sister in Christ, whose forgiveness should we be reminded of?
Christian anger and bitterness lead to dishonoring and profaning GOD’s name. God considers angry, divisive attitudes more than mere sin - He calls it an abomination! Paul places unkind and abusive speech in the same category as idolatry and gross immorality!
1 Corinthians 5:11
 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler-not even to eat with such a one.
When believers are negative, critical and unkind GOD is not pleased. If we barely speak to and avoid one another, the Holy Spirit is seriously grieved and quenched and fellowship is lost. When issues do arise between believers, to ignore them is to make a mockery of Christ’s death and His purpose - to make us one in His love!!
Many modern day believers ignore this issue - we see anger and damaged relationships as normal and unavoidable because they are so common place. This can lead to treating forgiveness, kindness and unity as unimportant or ignoring them altogether - but dealing with these is just as important as dealing with physical immorality! Jesus wants us to have a fervent heart-felt love for God, and loving forgiveness to others.
 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
1.If anger and bitterness between believers are ignored, what happens to the relationship between believers?
2.Should we ignore problems between believers, or deal with them in love?
3.What relationship does God desire between himself, his son and his
Forgiveness and love among believers is essential if we are to focus on the work of the Kingdom.
The Great Commission is main thing of what we do (Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.)
The two Great Commandments are the main things of what we are (You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.)
When our hearts are right with God and each other evangelism and missions will be our focus and will succeed. However to pray or conduct evangelism without deep love and forgiveness assures little power and small success. Even worse - unforgiveness and anger deeply grieves Jesus’ heart and shames His name before a lost world.
 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Jesus tells us that Christian love and unity are necessary for our evangelistic witness to be effective. When we neglect these central commands we end up with:
·Dry divided churches
·Lack of power in our prayer life
·Few salvations and baptisms
·Lost joy in our lives
Unforgiveness toward others is a sin that imprisons us. Paul described several of the works of the flesh as wrong attitudes and harsh words toward others - things we are to avoid.
Often, we develop an underlying anger or bitter attitude because we have not truly forgiven others “from the heart.” We will even lie about it by saying we have forgiven others when we really have not!
 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption
When we don’t truly forgive:
·Our prayers are greatly hindered
·We lose the power of God in our life and ministry
·Worst of all, we grieve the Holy Spirit and tread on the Son of God
We have all been wronged before and we probably will be wronged again. Jesus said that we must forgive others as He has forgiven us, and he forgives us with an unconditional love! Even if people will not admit their wrong or ask our forgiveness, we must take the position of loving them in Christ - and forgiving. This attitude is essential to prevent the poison of bitterness impacting our relationships with others.
Forgiveness does not mean that we have minimized what others have done. We do not have to feel “warm” or “gushy” about the situation or the wrongs themselves because true forgiveness is a “choice” and is not dependent upon our feelings. We choose to forgive because Christ requires it of us.
1.Who escapes from the need to forgive others?
2.If you refuse to forgive others, will your relationship with others or your ministry be free of impact?
3.Can you think of one person you need to forgive?
We forgive by trusting Christ for the power to forgive and overcome the anger that would otherwise control us. By doing this, the power of Christ will help us overcome bondage to sin, bondage to anger and bondage to Satan. We will still feel the pain of being wronged, but through Jesus we can daily choose to forgive and not be imprisoned by anger.
When we make the daily choice to forgive - healing and deliverance can then begin in our emotions. Until we genuinely choose forgiveness, we grieve God’s Spirit and remain a prisoner of our pain. Jesus lives within us and can forgive through us - our part is to daily make the sincere choice to forgive and show kindness - His power will do the rest!
 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Spend time prayerfully considering each person against whom you harbor the slightest bitterness or anger. Unless we periodically allow God to do a thorough inventory, we are probably not serious about keeping our hearts totally yielded to Christ. Rely on Christ’s strength and choose forgiveness!! Pray for each person daily. You will have to:
·Be honest about your unforgiveness
·Stop justifying it
·Choose to forgive daily through the indwelling power of Christ
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
1.Whose power is required in our lives to accomplish forgiveness?
2.Will our forgiveness be complete if we do not apply the power of God?
3.Is it ever too late to offer forgiveness?
We can learn to renounce angry attitudes and “disagree agreeably.” Angry, critical attitudes are closely related to bitterness. A huge percentage of church conflict and division can be traced to members with angry or critical attitudes.
·We must learn to “disagree agreeably!”
·Otherwise, we profane and dishonor God’s name
·Little else could bring believers and churches into greater risk of God’s chastisement
We must choose daily to treat each other with kindness and respect. It is an abomination for believers to harbor serious anger and unkindness toward one another. God’s heart is grieved when some believers will barely speak to certain other believers. Unkind words and attitudes are the very opposite of God’s purpose for His people!
If wrong attitudes continue and become commonplace, our worship and prayers become an empty ritual - similar to Malachi’s time. When believers deny, ignore or minimize damaged relationships, they utterly reject the Lordship of Jesus Christ! By doing this, we grieve God’s heart and seriously quench His Spirit!
God does not require perfection. Our angry attitudes can be even more hindering to God’s Spirit than more outward sins of the flesh and we cannot hide them from God! Be honest with yourself and be honest with God about these matters.
We need to be willing to:
·Stop making excuses
·Take some basic steps of repentance
God’s grace is greater than the sin of anyone willing to stop making excuses and take basic steps to obey. Can we change our attitude toward forgiveness? Yes! We can all change.
 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
God is incredibly caring and truly touched by the depth of our pain.
 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Only by God’s grace can we begin to see change in our attitude. Virtually all battles in churches stem from the foundational sins of anger and bitterness, but God is stronger than our strongest sins.
We must be specific in our confession and repentance. Confession that does not involve specific steps of repentance is nothing but a lie - you are lying to yourself.
General confession is often an unconscious attempt to save our conscious without taking the serious steps required for specific change. God is not fooled by such deceptive games.
Biblical Steps for Obedience & Repentance:
·Fully confess and ask God’s forgiveness for specific patterns of unforgiveness, anger or unkindness toward others - don’t minimize or rationalize your sins.
·If you know you have been unkind toward specific people, fully confess and forsake this most grievous sin to God - as God leads go to them and ask for forgiveness.
·Ask God to help you fully forgive “from the heart” all who have wronged you. On major issues go to the person to tell them you forgive them.
·Claim God’s total forgiveness and forgive yourself. Remember Romans 8:1 - There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
·Remember that working on relationships is a life-long process - getting over hurts is a process
Do not be overwhelmed -a new day will dawn! Continue to daily resolve to make loving-kindness and forgiveness a top priority in your relationships.
·His grace is sufficient for you to become loving, kind and forgiving
·Embrace love and forgiveness for God’s glory and His kingdom
·Only in this way do we live as the people of God exalting His name before all the earth
·When God is real in your daily life, love and forgiveness will fill your heart!
Decisions to make and steps to take:
1.Have you identified those you need to forgive, or those you need to ask forgiveness of?
2.Have you made plans to begin the steps of forgiving and asking forgiveness?
3.Are you ready to make the daily choice to forgive?
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