Healthy, Devoted Relationships

No Hammers or Chisels

In the Old Testament, we are told that "in building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built." (1 Kings 6:7). They didn't want to defile the temple with the pound, pound, pound of shaping the stones and making them fit so that they would work in the house just right. The Old Testament temple was a shadow of the church, and that type is very applicable in what I'm saying right now. It is not our job to pound, pound, pound in the temple courts to make a stone just the way we want it. That's not to say we aren't totally and wonderfully involved in one another's lives. But be very cautious in the temple of God, no matter how "nice" you might be about it, that in the process of building you are not just lording it over someone's faith by your mere presence in that relationship. This is a very serious matter, because the first side of the coin—the willingness to take risks to see Christ formed in others—can become twisted.

What if you walked into my house and said, "Give me $50 because we are supposed to have all things in common"? Well, all right. It's no problem for me to give someone $50 because the scriptures say that if we're really living for Jesus, our money is not our own. But as soon as somebody walks in the door and says "Give me $50 since we have all things in common," you know you're in trouble. Something is out of whack here! Biblically, from just a pure intellectual standpoint, maybe the facts are right. But as soon as someone uses a scripture to manipulate another person to give, you know it's been twisted. Don't give them $50 if they come in with that sort of presumption and selfishness and insensitivity! You'll be doing them a disservice if you do. That is not what the scriptures mean when they say that no one counted their possessions their own. It wasn't the Holy Spirit's intent that people would lord it over someone else's walk with God. If someone wants to give you $50, let it be between them and God, not because you demanded it based on a scripture.

And that's what I'm saying about relationships, too. According to the scriptures, we are supposed to be "joined and knit together by every supporting ligament." But don't presume on that truth by barging into someone's life and demanding that they have a relationship with you. That is not right. That is not what the scriptures teach. If there's sin in someone's heart, pray for them. If you need to speak a word into their life, fine. But if they won't hear you, don't keep pummeling, pummeling, and pummeling.

If you're so sure you're seeing sin that you're willing to go to the test, too, by bringing in two or three witnesses, then please go ahead. That is what Jesus taught. But you'll find yourself being a lot more careful about what you bring to people's attention, because you may find out that you're the one in error. And if you are, it would be good for you to find that out.

One time a few years ago a certain person said to me, "You need to do this thing, and I'm sure it is sin in your life that you aren't."

I responded, "Are you sure it's sin?"

"Absolutely I'm sure it's sin," was the reply.

"Well then, please bring two or three witnesses, because I really don't think I can agree with that statement exactly the way it was put."

The person said, "Well, all right, maybe it's not sin, but…" They had this sixth sense that their statement wouldn't fly if two or three witnesses heard it. That's why I think Jesus put that provision into place. Everyone gets an opportunity to see what's actually happening when you bring two or three witnesses.

So do be passionate for other people! But as you go, also be cautious that you don't twist the concept of devotion around, like a man who walks in and says, "Give me $50 because after all, we have all things in common." If you do, you will make a very serious error and will actually hurt others' walk with God. That kind of misguided devotion won't help them; it will hurt them. It will pressure them, and they'll be responding out of guilt and oppression rather than out of love of God.

I heard someone recently mention being "a resource to build other people's faith, rather than a hammer." A resource is an option, is it not? I mean, if I'm writing a paper, I have a choice whether I'm going to use the Encyclopedia Britannica or a quote from the "Today Show" or a computer almanac. Those are resources; those are options. They're not something that is forced on me. I have the ability to draw on resources, but I'm not compelled to. I'm not forced to pick one of them. In the same way, we are supposed to be resources for one another. But we are not to be hammers—even sweet hammers! Make sure that you're very open and honest and sincere, and that you're not clinging to anything for yourself. That's an important part of the "wrestling to present one another perfect in Christ" we've been talking about. Certainly "be in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed" in others, but have the right perspective towards it. Don't abuse it in any of the ways that I just mentioned.

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