Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Conflict happens (Part 1)

Conflict happens! It is a part of our life, like it or not. At work we get into it with our supervisor. At home we’re at odds with our kids. At church we don’t see eye to eye on what God’s will is concerning just about anything.

What are we to do? Is there a way out?

There is and the first step toward freedom is taking the humble position and attitude of a servant.

I’m serious. Think about it. Servants have the good of others and the good of their master in mind as they walk through each day. They aren’t selfish or proud. They know who’s in control and they obey Him. It’s his reputation they care most about. They have no fear for their own needs. They don’t have to push and shove to get what they want. Their Master will provide plenty for their enjoyment.

What does the Scripture say?

Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (NIV)

We have a good master, folks. We can trust him to care for us.

Solomon said a thing or two about pride. One of his proverbs connects arrogance to fighting. Proverbs 13:10 says, “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” (NIV)

James wrote concerning the connection between self-interest and strife. James 4:1 begins with two straight-to-the-point questions. “What causes fights and quarrels among you?” is the first. The second drives the dagger deep. “Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

James then goes on to describe selfishness with great insight in the first sentences of verse 2. “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.

The final sentence of verse 2 and the whole of verse 3 wrap up the selfishness-and-peace-don’t-mix argument. “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (All NIV)

What did we just read?

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4, NIV)

No need to knock others out of the way to get what you need. “…seek first [God’s] kingdom and [God’s] righteousness…” That’s what Jesus advised. And he promised in return that “all these things” – our needs – “will be given to you as well.”

Pride breeds quarrels. Selfishness causes fights. So listen to God’s word. James 4:6-7 tells us the truth.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God.” (NIV)

And verse 10 adds this command with a promise: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10, NIV)

You don’t have to claw and grab to get what matters. Trust God. Look to his interests and he will take care of you. Humbly serve others and reasons to fight will be few. Strife can be avoided when all take the low position of servant.

Expect more on conflict over the next couple of weeks. I'm still writing on the subject.

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