A New Relationship (Matthew 7:1-12)

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.(Matthew 7:1-12)

Today’s sermon is titled “A New Relationship”. There are various relationships: father and daughter, mother and child, boss and employee, brother and sister, and so on. We can be happy because of a relationship we have; we may be sad due to our relationships or upset because of a relationship we are in.

The ironic thing about it is that often times, we are distressed by the person we love very much. For example, we love our children tremendously. But when was the most stressful for you? Probably, you felt most upset about your children. Then again, how much do people love their husbands and their wives? But again, one’s husband and one’s wife are one of the people who upset them the most. From the children’s standpoint, although they dearly love their mom and dad, they feel hurt and upset at times because of them.

Though we receive grace and are filled with joy at church, many times we don’t even get to enjoy that joy for very long, and are overcome with sadness when we return home because of the conflict and arguments that we face in our relationships. So, some people, who cannot bear the weight of these relationships, even have suicidal thoughts. Or some develop illnesses due to the stress.

I heard a particular doctor say that most cancer patients would have had a very stressful event in their life approximately 4-5 years before developing cancer. And when I carefully observed the people around me who have cancer, and after counseling some of them, I found out that it is true. For example, a woman suffers terribly because of her husband. But it’s not the husband who always drinks and causes trouble that develops cancer; often, it’s the wife who is tormented by it that develops cancer. Because she was so troubled and desperate in her heart.

In this way, relationships can make a person happy, sad, or even devastated. However, we came to church and met God. After we meet God, a change is brought to all of those relationships. Not only did we meet God, but by meeting Him, amazing changes take place in all of our relationships with others.

Originally, we sought to receive love from the people we met and wanted to be understood by them. But after meeting Jesus Christ, we don’t have many of those expectations. Instead, just as I was a sinner and needed God, we can start to understand other people who are also sinners. You realize, “Just as I am desperate for love, that person is also in need of love!” Even with parents, we are used to receiving love from them all the time. But parents are also sorrowful people. They also need love. The senior officer in the army who used to give me a hard time also needs love. He is a sinner, too. That’s how I can understand them.

Even though you might be a very understanding person normally, you won’t be able to afford to do that when you are going through a tough time. Because it is so hard to bear, you don’t have the strength to be rational. But in those situations, God has taught us something. And it can bring about an amazing change in your relationships. I would like to share my testimony of mine in that regard.

I got married as soon as I graduated from university. I met Jesus in my latter years of university, and got married right after I graduated. I had a girlfriend I had been dating for a long time. The reason we got married as soon as I graduated was that it would benefit us in our faith but also help us not to be distracted in our church life. That’s why we decided to get married quickly. But a few months before our wedding, we had a bit of conflict.

As with many situations, it was over a small matter that the argument started. But one thing led to another, and when you have no room in your heart, it can be very difficult. When we argued in person, I tried to keep my cool, and just holding her hand would sometimes make everything okay. If I could see her face and have a smile, the matter would be easily resolved. But the problem arose when we were on the phone. We didn’t have mobile phones back then, but just a telephone at home.

It was one night. We were talking on the phone late at night when we had an argument. It became more serious than I anticipated. It wasn’t over a little matter. We were talking about our future together but didn’t agree, and harsh words were exchanged. “How can you speak like that!” It was already so upsetting and because I was very upset, I also said things I shouldn’t have. That made things worse. After I spoke harshly to her, I knew that I had done the wrong thing. But it was out of anger that the words just came out. I was upset at myself for doing that, but she also came back to me with even harsher words. So the situation got worse and worse. And in the middle of the phone call, she just hung up because she was very angry.

That was already past 11p.m. Her phone was in her parents’ bedroom. So, I couldn’t possibly call her again. I know we both argued, but at the time, I was fixed that it was my girlfriend’s fault. Since we were discussing the path of our lives together, and I was thinking, ‘If this is how she is going to do things in the future, how are we going to live together as a married couple?’ I was very mad, I was hating myself, and I also felt anxious about the things ahead that my whole body felt weak. Because my heart was painful, I had no energy in my body either. What should you do in those times? You should pray, right? But I had no strength to even pray. I simply could not tell pray because I had no strength in my heart. If anybody said to me at that time, “You should pray!” I would’ve become very angry. Because I didn’t have the strength to pray. But I was thankful for something. If I were to pray at that time, I would’ve had to say, “Father God!” Yet I didn’t even have the boldness to say, “Father God!” I had no strength in my heart, and I couldn’t say anything to God. I was hating myself, and the whole situation seemed hopeless.

But there is a wonderful gift from God. It is speaking in tongues. You don’t have to say anything to speak in tongues. It is your spirit’s prayer, which man cannot understand. The flesh just helps the spirit speak to God confidentially in secret. So I prayed in tongues. This is a gift given by God to those who receive the Holy Spirit, but even I can’t understand what I am saying. Nevertheless, I spoke in tongues so that my spirit could pray to God.

At first, I could only pray in tongues faintly because I was so disheartened. But as I continued speaking in tongues, it got stronger and after some ten minutes, gradually my heart was strengthened, and then I was able to pray in words saying, “Father God, help me!” As I was praying, “Help me!” I was reminded of this scripture we read from Matthew 7. In that chapter it says, “Do not judge”. I was reminded of that verse.

So I opened up the Bible to that chapter. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged.” That’s right! Who am I to judge that person? I will be judged in the same way…’ Thus, I determined myself that I will not judge and confessed to God.

Yet on one hand, I was still filled with anxiety. I said to God, “If I don’t judge, that person will live the way she is now, and what happens if she is still the way she is even after I marry her? I’m not confident that I can continue to accept that sort of attitude of hers.” And then I continued to read the chapter. And just as we read earlier, it says, “Ask! Seek! Knock!” It says that we should ask if we need anything. We should seek and knock. We’ll then receive it.

When we want something, we often think that we must inform or demand from the concerned individual to fulfill our wishes. However, you will find that merely telling them doesn’t achieve the desired outcome. You might attempt to change your children, but simply instructing them to change won’t be effective. But God teaches us that if we really want change, if we want to change someone, we have to pray. Thus, I prayed, “God, change my girlfriend! Change her and her ways entirely to be sound.” After that, my heart was strengthened, I gained confidence.

I believed that God would change her, but what was I supposed to do? How should I do when I met her? Should I tell her that I prayed for her? What should I do? So, I continued reading that chapter, and it said, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them”. Then I realized, ‘That’s right! God wants me to first treat others the way I want to be treated. That’s the Law and the Prophets! This is what God wants to say to us sinners!’

I thought, ‘So how do I want to be treated?’ At that moment, there was something I wanted from her. I wanted my girlfriend to call me immediately and say, “I’m sorry!” But who was to do that? Since God said to treat others the way I want to be treated, I realized that was what I needed to do. So, I took the courage. When I was trying to argue with her, I had no confidence. But since I made up my mind to apologize first, I determined that I would still call her first and ask for her even if her parents picked up the phone. I prayed and was just about to pick up my phone to call her when it rang.

I was planning to say to her when I called her, “I am sorry! It’s my fault!” But just as I was about to pick up the phone, the phone started to ring, and my heart began to beat very fast. ‘Could it be?’ I picked it up and held it by my ear. Before I even answered the phone, what do you think I heard? “I’m sorry! It’s my fault!” They were the words that came from the other end without even a single word missing; exactly what I was going to say to her. It was amazing. It had not been very long since I started my faith life, and that experience gave me great courage and assurance. ‘God’s word is thorough and faithful, and His promises are definitely true!’ I learned that when I obeyed God exactly as He taught us, I could receive outcomes beyond my expectations.

That moment, when I heard those words from her, I answered, “No, I am sorry!” and I think, from memory, that I was so moved that I cried. I was happy when I heard those words, but even more happy that God listened to my prayer and was with me. Therefore, if it were only my girlfriend and me, our relationship would have ended long ago. But in those critical moments, God intervened, led our relationship and made it beautiful.

Thus, I dated my girlfriend for 7 years. I met her before I came to believe in Jesus. But through her evangelism, I met Jesus and married her right after I graduated. And we are still together. It’s been about 20 years since we got married.

The worldly people say that you lose all the happiness three months after marriage, but that is definitely what they say to those who don’t know God. For those of us who do know God, it is truly joyful to be able to love one person and know him or her. We can experience God’s love and also the comfort He provides through the other person with His intervention. Now we have sincere interest, sincere affection, and forgiveness for each other, and even know so well about each other’s weaknesses. But I can understand God’s love through her, who would even embrace all those weaknesses.

It is because God intervenes that all our relationships are made new. This is the same with children, at work, and so on. In God, everything is anew. All relationships are turned into new relationships. This is because the relationship with God itself is a new one.

Thus, when you meet God at church, it will not be about merely having a religion; you will get to have a relationship with and meet the living Almighty, who is life, and in Him, you will find every relationship with others turned into new relationships. In Jesus’ name I bless you to abundantly experience God’s happiness and joy within those relationships. I’ll pray.

Father God, thank You for sending us Your Son, Jesus Christ through whom we can meet God face to face and share our love. Also thank You, for in Jesus Christ all of our relationships with other people in this world has become beautiful and wonderful relationships, unlike before. Help everyone here to enjoy such joyful and happy relationships! In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center