“If you are in conflict with more than one person, it’s likely you are the problem.”
Isn’t it mysterious that through much of this communal life, this wisdom is obvious to everyone but us? Indeed, if I am at odds with more than one person at any given time, the most common denominator in the relational strain is probably me!
This is something to consider during Lent.
If I am chronically annoyed or hurt by particular friends or co-workers, the roots of the bad tasting fruit can be found inside me. When I am routinely offended by certain people, the problem is, in major part, my own. If there is conflict or chaos in my personal relationships, the obvious common thread is, well, me.
The beautiful thing about arriving at this place – this humble place – is that we can always change. We can loosen our grip on favorite grudges, and forgive sins. We can look for offense less, and give the benefit of the doubt more. Peacemakers are indeed blessed: they sow righteousness, and they will be known as the daughters and sons of God.
Here are eight questions to consider if you want the fruit of your spirit to include greater peace and forbearance:
#1. Where is there discord (confusion, tension, trouble) in your life?
For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. “I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I will not forsake them.”
#2. In what relationships are you withholding love?
For God did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
#3. Who really irritates you? What personality type really gets under your skin?
Be kind to one another, then. Be tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
#4. Who do you wish would just disappear from your life for a while?
But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you. Whatever measuring cup you use to portion out grace with others, will be the same size measuring cup used with you.
#5. What person, or people, most offend you? Why?
The Lord is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
#6. The words of what person(s) cause you to lose sleep?
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. He is a shield for those who trust him.
#7. What relationship do you doubt that God can restore?
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing, do you not see it?
#8. How can you be an instrument of God’s type of peace, today?
Behold, he is making all things new. For he came to bring good news to the poor; to bind up the brokenhearted, and to proclaim liberty to the captives.
#9. Where do you need to take peace, pursue forgiveness?
Wherever God’s spirit goes, real life happens. Wherever God’s people go, wrongs are righted, forgiveness is granted, and peace is made. For I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
Peace to you (and joy) this week.