Who Are You Having Problems With?

Who are you having problems with? Most of us immediately have a name and a face that comes to mind. Most pastors immediately know of someone in the congregation who is causing fits one way or another.

That’s the bad news, but there is also good news.

The good news is God has provided a way and examples of how we deal with those people we have problems with. Look at how Jesus related to twelve difficult people. Almost all of us are difficult from time to time.

Paul’s letter to Philemon is one of the greatest pictures ever of how to confront problems. Confrontations should always be with problems not with people. If you confront the problem, you will have made a friend and encouraged a brother. If you do it the conventional way (confronting people), the outcome is iffy.

Paul confronted the problem. The problem had to do with Onesimus, a slave in the household of Philemon who had run away, probably stolen, and generally left Philemon in a lurch.

Paul confronted the problem when Onesimus showed up at Paul’s imprisonment. Onesimus came to know the Lord and demonstrated genuine repentance. Paul sent a letter to Philemon asking him to forgive and restore Onesimus.

In order for that to take place, three tough decisions had to be made.

First, Paul had to decide whether he would risk his reputation with the Christian church by sticking his neck out. The easier path would have been to let sleeping dogs lie. Paul chose the hard road.

Second, Onesimus had to repent, return, and apologize. Neither of these three decisions is easy.

Finally, Philemon had to forgive and accept Onesimus back not as a slave but “as a brother.” Do you think that is easy?

If people are going to “get along,” someone has to get involved. For restoration to occur, someone has to be big enough to say “I was wrong, I’m sorry.” And finally, someone has to be big enough to say, “I forgive you and I take you back as a brother.”

God shows that we can heal broken relationships. This can happen in marriage when two people are big enough to deal with the tough issues. It can happen in churches–it should happen in churches much more often than it does.

Who are you having problems with?

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One Comment


  1. Ed Matthew
    Apr 10, 2012

    Today is my Dad’s Birthday. If there is one thing I have learned from my Dad, it is to seek God’s Timing for a resolution that is not threatening ones ability to provide for family or is an immediate threat to a family member. I have and I think most husbands and wives or fathers and mothers seek to set out a strong line (demarcation) of protection that when crossed by a predator, is done so with a cost. Christ and Paul provided steps within the “Church.” However, even the Church does not seem to be removed from “politics.” Resolution is only possible when both parties are likeminded in Christ in their determination. Even then it is a struggle, especially when turf or social-status is involved. The message is clear to the Body/Bride regarding the action taken when a wolf is found disguised among the sheep (there is sin in the camp). The message is also crystal-clear that one is to seek out ones place in the BODY/BRIDE. Adjustments and appreciation facilitates the process as the overarching Purpose is prioritized.

    May we not be identified as a people who shoot their wounded or eat their young. Such is the result of putting drugs, social standing, etc. before God’s Design.

    Thank you for bringing the message of taking a high risk for an even higher Reward that may not be realized this side of eternity.

    Blessings.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. — John 10:14-15 (NIV)