“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.”
James 3:17-18 (TLB)
All my life I’ve had a specific problem.
It’s like it has a mind of its own.
If I close my eyes I can still see Daddy standing behind Momma, silently motioning for Teenage Me to stop talking.
How many conflicts could have been avoided if I had just kept my pie hole shut?!
The struggle was real.
The Adult Me would like to say I have matured beyond this issue but unfortunately, I have not. Just ask my husband.
The struggle is still very real.
I have what Lysa TerKeurst calls “The Curse of The Comeback.” And based on what God’s word says, I’m guessing others might have it, too.
God says the tongue is a restless evil that no man can tame, a “world of unrighteousness” placed within us. It is full of deadly poison that pollutes the whole body. (James 3:6-8)
Oy vey! Is this ever true!
In my heart, I actually hate conflict and prefer to avoid it, mostly because I get anxious and don’t know how to handle it. (That’s why I’ve avoided my Facebook newsfeed since last Friday.)
More often, though, I know how I SHOULD handle conflict but I let my emotions take over and end up doing the exact opposite. (That’s also why I’ve avoided my Facebook newsfeed since last Friday.)
Oh, how I desperately need the wisdom of heaven!
Jesus was faced with far more conflict than you and I will ever see. Yet, He was never snarky or rude or hateful, even in the heat of the battle.
He wasn’t concerned about having The Last Word, didn’t seek to have the better comeback. Yet, His Life and Word ultimately won.
When faced with opposing views or disagreement, Jesus always knew just what to say–or more importantly, what NOT to say. He even disappeared from the crowd from time to time.
In fact, Jesus was only stinging and sharp with the Pharisees–the religious people. He was different with the lost.
Take, for instance, His encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria. (John 4:1-42)
1. Jesus confronted her Lovingly.
He cared enough to know her story, both her history and her present struggles. He was gentle but straightforward, courteous and merciful while speaking truth.
2. Jesus confronted her Privately.
He was personal with her; they spoke face to face, one on one. He met her at noon, when it was likely no one else would be around and he spent time with her in discussion; he didn’t pelt her with a hit-and-run of words.
3. Jesus confronted her Intentionally.
This encounter wasn’t a reaction. Jesus purposely went to where she would be with what he knew she would be looking for: Living Water. He yielded Himself by meeting her on her turf and approached her with pure motives.
Oh, to have the tact of Jesus!
Now, more than ever, followers of Jesus must seek to handle conflict with the wisdom of heaven, especially with the lost.
We need to allow discussion without being offended.
We must be gentle and courteous and yielding when necessary.
We should be pure of heart with no selfish motives, seeking to offer hope and Good News to those ready to accept it.
That’s a tall order for a short girl with The Curse. But there is hope!
“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory…showing yourselves to be My disciples.” ~John 15:7
I think I’ll ask for help.
Heavenly Father, so often I want to be heard. I fight to be right. I stand my ground to win the final word. But these are merely fleeting emotions and vanishing syllables. It is Your Word that will remain. Your Spirit that convicts and Jesus’ blood that wins.
I desperately need You to tame my tongue. I need Your power to overcome it and your wisdom to know how to use it. Stop me when I need to yield. I know Me and I cannot do this on my own. Please, help me represent You well in this present conflict. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.