Saturday, November 1, 2014

"Do Not Quarrel on the Way"

One of the things you are almost certain to hear or say when around children is "Don't fight". Arguing is most certainly not only acted out by little ones, though, as I'm sure you can attest to! We all, no matter how old, end up arguing about something often, as much as we know that it not "pure and noble", especially given the things that we tend to fight most about. We can get so caught up in the here and now that we never think "will this matter next year- or even tomorrow?". We just want to prove our point, even though it is not affecting any of us in a bad way to disagree. We in our pride feel like we must give the other party all the reasons that they are wrong, and get the last word in.

Given this, arguing is one of the biggest things that can get in the way when two or more people are trying to accomplish something together. It wastes time as they stop everything to hold a battle of ideas, and often gets in the way of their relationship. When Joseph revealed to his brothers that he was Jacob's son and sent them back to get their father to come to Canaan, "he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the way." (Genesis 45:24). He knew that they would be inclined to point fingers and argue over who's fault it was that Joseph was taken to Canaan in the first place, and who should have to tell their father that he was alive- and that they had lied about what happened to him. He knew that the journey wouldn't be easy for them, and breaking the news would be even harder, but he didn't want any more relationship issues started in the family, and warned them to control themselves.

That's so much easier to say than do, isn't it?! I fall so many times in the area of controlling my emotions instead of letting them show in my words and tones to those I interact with. If someone criticizes, we jump on the defense, and if somebody uses a harsh tone, we bristle up, myself especially. It's an area that I've notice lately that I really struggle in.

What starts a argument? Not the humorous "battle of wits" that we particularly enjoy to hold around here (at which Tori can beat us all despite how silent she appears!), but real quarrels? A change in tone, a word spoken during stress, saying something a little too loudly to someone about someone else (which is gossip anyway- but totally different topic), not explaining or apologizing for something that you know would be offensive to someone. When those things happen, our flesh desires to let everyone know how we feel about the situation, either through our words, or, for others, through our silence. But what does the Lord teach us to do? "Repay evil with good" and "turn the other cheek".

Some practical ways to do this would be to answer with kind words said in a respectful, loving tone. To try to understand from the other person's perspective, and to listen without interrupting. I'm talking to myself just as much (more accurately, more) as any of you. I fail so often- especially in the area of answer in a loving tone. I know that this can only be done with the Lord's help, and I believe that it is very important to pray for the humility that aids you in laying down your arms and being used as a sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17) rather than a destroying fire (James 3:6). And pray that when you feel like doing anything that might start a quarrel, the Lord would remind you that not only is your obedience in responding correctly in question, but to respond wrongly would be putting a stumbling block in the other person's way, as well!

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"May the Lord, the God of your fathers... bless you!" Deuteronomy 1:11