Monday, December 9, 2013

For Peace Sake: Overcoming Conflicts

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I learned something today, or I should say, came to a better understanding of. It's something that is really important if we are to become more and more like Jesus Christ, if we are to truly be complete in Him. I learned that it is truly important to make ourselves " peaceably with all men", as we are told to do in Romans 12:18 and Hebrews 12:14. Even when it seems truly impossible, it is important that we rely in the Holy Spirit to help us to do this. And we can do this through actively disciplining our bodies and bringing them into subjection to obey Christ Jesus, just like Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:27. We know that what is impossible for us is possible for God, and just like Jesus mentioned in John 15:5, we can do nothing without Him. He's the vine and we are the branches, and whoever abides in Him and He in them, will bring forth much fruit. One of the fruits of God Holy Spirit is self-control, it is something that is needed if one is to be able to live peaceably with all men,  if one is to be an obedient servant of God, and if one is able to be angry and not sin. 

Why is it that sometimes it's so difficult to avoid arguments and fights with others even after we have been told that, "A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition..."? 2 Timothy 2:24-25.
Why is it so hard most of the time to be "Swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath....." like we're instructed to do in James  1:19? We're told that the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God, and in Proverbs 14:29, "He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly" Ouch!  That last bit is many of us if we were being truly honest with ourselves.  The truth is, being honest with ourselves, for many of us, is not somethign we do very well.
If we ask ourselves, "Who in our lives so far has told us the most lies?" Many of us would think of another person. The devil has lied to us a huge heap load, that  firstly must be noted, but we have contributed quite a bit to keeping ourselves deceived. Some might say it's to build up self-esteem and confidence, lying to yourself, but a person could have all the self-esteem and confidence in the world and still be considered a fool. 

The Bible is filled with useful instructions, we hear all of it, but find it hard to execute these instructions when we end up in situations which require us to apply these teachings. James urges us to be, "doers of the word and not merely hearers only, deceiving ourselves." 5:22, James clearly shows in that verse that it is possible to deceive yourself. But why is it that we still somehow cannot avoid strife, confrontations, disputes, arguments?

There are several reasons for this that I came to realize today.

1. Selfishness. More often in an argument we are more concerned with our own feelings, with getting our point across, that we make no room to be swift to hear.

2. Pride. Most of the time we take on arguments like it's some school debate that we must win everytime. Like it's all about getting the next person to acknowledge that they're wrong and you're not. "I'm right, you're wrong, and this won't be over until you understand that!" The thing about that is, when the next person is doing the same thing, how will there ever be a sensible resolution? 

3. A feeling of Entitlement. This for me is my biggest issue. I always feel like the person I am speaking to owes me a certain level of respect, I mean don't we all feel that way, and is that so wrong? That a person isn't suppose to talk to us a certain way, to treat us in a way that is not very nice. In this we feel  right, we all want respect, we all deserve it don't we, and we all try to live by those nifty little platitudes like, " If you want respect you have to give it." or "You have to earn my respect first if you want me to respect you." Because of that when we see someone lack respect for us, odds are we might end up in a confrontation with that person and end up behaving carnally. "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food: for until now you were unable to receive it, and even now you are still not able: for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal behaving like mere men?" 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. 

As disciples of Jesus Christ are we really to have this kind of mind, or are we supposed to have within us the same mind that is within Christ Jesus? It is written in Philippians 2:6, that Jesus, "...being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of man."  If we are to be like Christ we ought to be humble like He was. It is also written that Jesus, "will not quarrel or cry out, no one will hear His voice in the streets.." Matthew 12:19. We are told that, "Let nothing be done from strife or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself" Philippians:2-3. More often, we are quarreling, and usually over the silliest thing. Our voices are heard in the streets, and we are more concerned with our self esteem not esteeming others better than ourselves. 

When we are more concerned about receiving a certain level of respect from a person because we feel we deserve it, we end up  allowing this feeling of entitlement to dictate how we react in a certain situation. Instead of obeying the word of God, obeying the promptings of His Holy Spirit, we willfully forget that we are to be slow when it comes to speaking and slow to wrath, so we end up dealing with situations impulsively based on how we see fit. And the outcome is usually one that is not pleasing to God. Even Jesus Himself who deserves all the Glory, wasn't concerned with getting individuals  respect, or did he get upset because He felt people didn't respect Him. He never allowed the way persons treated Him to be the measuring stick by which he would in turn treat that person, meaning He didn't emulate the negative way people treated Him, He never repaid evil for evil. We are told in Epehesians 5:1-2, "Therefore be imitators of God like dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma."

I think about how  many people are in prison or the grave because they did something they felt was justified because somebody disrespected them, or was mean to them. We must abandon this way of thinking, this self serving way of thinking. We must put on the mind of Christ Jesus, we must act as thought we have a renewed mind, not a carnal one. Esteeming others better than ourselves, because this is pleasing to God. We must not react harshly to others because we feel that  we deserve to be treated kindly at all times, that we deserve respect and they're not doing it. Instead we must focus more or giving these things than receiving them. Jesus said we will be hated because of Him. How can we who have a mind that we deserve certain things from people ever be able to really walk humbly with God, if we're so built up with pride? If we can't even bear those who don't respect us, how will we be able to bear those who (will) hate us because we follow Christ?

Today I got really upset. There are many things that happen to me, sometimes daily,  that I feel are just not fair, but I will leave with you  a few scriptures that are helpful for when we feel we are unfairly treated and cannot go on, hopefully these can help you to bear with others for peace sake. 

"For this is commendable, if because of conscience towards God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully." 1 Peter 2:19. 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us therefore lay aside every weigh, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,  who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-3. 

Each of us have a cross, let us bear it remembering that, "For the scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will never be put to shame." Romans 10:11.