Online Bible Study

Online Bible Study

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Post by Debbie Taylor Williams

Is Everything Alright, Jake?

“Is everything alright, Jake?”

“Everything’s alright, Marge. Go to sleep.”

Recently, I watched part of an old movie in which a couple’s daughter did something behind their back. She borrowed money from her daddy to loan to a friend who wanted an abortion. The abortion was done by a back alley doctor, the friend became dangerously ill, and once again the daughter went to her father, who was a doctor, for help. In the middle of the night, the daughter confessed what she had used his money for and the complications that had arisen. Incensed, he went to the girl’s aid. After treating her, he returned to his room and climbed in bed. As he did, his wife roused, asking, “Is everything alright, Jake?” His response, “Everything’s alright, Marge. Go to sleep.”

The next day Jake didn’t discuss with Marge what had happened. Nor did he the next day or the next. However, his relationship was strained with his daughter. It affected more than just the two of them.

Today, we often refer to such situations as “an elephant in the room.” Perhaps you’re in a relationship, church, or office where such is the case. Something’s wrong, but instead of discussing it, you or someone else has Jake’s philosophy: don’t discuss it. Instead, say, “everything’s alright.”

Why don’t we discuss things? I’m not sure. Perhaps fear. We’re concerned about the person’s reaction. Perhaps we don’t because we have a sense of futility; that even if we did, it wouldn’t do any good. Perhaps we’ve tried to discuss issues and concerns before, all to no avail. Perhaps the results of prior attempts were worse than tiptoeing around the elephant.

Although I don’t have the answers, God does. In a world of imperfect people, Jesus puts the responsibility for righting relationships on us, whether we were wronged or a person has something against us. That’s pretty revolutionary, if you think about it.

In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus tells us that if a fellow Christian sins, “go and show him his fault in private.” Think about the grace and honor Jesus bestows on the one who is sinning. Rather than shout out the other person’s sin to the world, He says to privately address the concern with the person. What if the adulterer, liar, gossip, thief, drunkard, badly behaved husband/wife, arrogant person, or rebellious child doesn’t listen? “If he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.” Again, if we pause to study Jesus’ words, we can’t help but marvel. False accusations and wrong perceptions are avoided when people take time to address “every fact” with a person. What is the purpose of this kind of relationship? The objective is stated in Matthew 18:15, “if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” In other words, the objective in discussing a person’s sin with them is love and restoration.

How many times are we to forgive? Again, Jesus addresses this important subject in Matthew 18:21-22. When Peter approached Jesus and asked if after the seventh time his brother sinned against him, he could call it quits with the person and no longer forgive him, Jesus answered Peter with a big, “No.” Then, he told Peter a story about God’s immeasurable forgiveness toward us, warning that if we don’t extend the same forgiveness to others, we’d be tormented. If you’ve ever clung to resentment toward someone, you know how true Jesus’ words are. Unforgiveness is mentally and emotionally tormenting.

What if we aren’t upset with someone, but we find out someone is upset with us? Again, we’re the one responsible for righting the relationship. (This is obviously not the world’s philosophy.) In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus teaches us, as imperfect beings, that if we are presenting our offering at church and remember someone has something against us, we are to leave and go and first be reconciled to the person. What if the person refuses to be reconciled? Paul addresses this in Romans 12:18, where he acknowledges that we can only be responsible for our part of the reconciliation. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men,” Romans 12:18.

“Is everything alright, Jake?”

“Everything’s alright, Marge. Go to sleep.”

1 comment:

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Thanks for this post!

Bill ;-)
Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
and forthcoming "The Homeplace Revisited" Spring 2011