Conflict; January 26, 2019

Matthew 22:46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on on one dared to ask him any more questions.

I would imagine the disciples got a huge kick out of this. Verse 34 says that He had “silenced the Sadducees,” and here He has taken care of the Pharisees as well. However, I really think this incident was one of the motives behind Jesus’ arrest, flogging, and crucifixion. Human beings are all too prone to resort to violence when they don’t have logic or truth on their side. We certainly see that today, in very sad abundance. Japanese has an expression that translates as “violent words.” In America today, you can’t turn on the news without being flooded with such, and often the violence doesn’t stop with words. We must be careful to respond as children of God, and not go on the attack ourselves. That’s not to say that we are to be foolish, or that we are not to defend ourselves, but it is to say that that we must remember that God is our fortress, and not get all anxious and defensive. We are to speak the truth in love, not trying to “make points” as such, but praying that the truth will penetrate and set people free. (John 8:32)

I am all too familiar with using words as weapons, because I did it myself when I felt inferior as a child because of my lack of athletic ability. Pride of intellect doesn’t ultimately do anybody any good. As an adult, and particularly as a teacher and pastor, I have learned the damage my words can cause, even when damage isn’t intended. It is much like a parent, whose words have enormous power in their children’s lives, for either good or bad. I have both built people up and torn people down with my words, and I must keep close watch on them. James talks about the irony of both good and evil coming out of our mouths. (James 3:9-10) My mouth should be a spring of life-giving water, not of brine. I have never liked conflict, but I have had to learn the hard way that conflict avoidance does not lead to conflict resolution. I am indeed to speak the truth in love, but I am also to allow the Holy Spirit to control when I speak and when I remain silent. I am all too prone to speak whether it is appropriate or not!

Father, thank You that You are continuing to train and grow me. Thank You that I have more control than I used to over the impulse to just say something. May I not run from conflict any more than Jesus did, but rather speak and act in total obedience to You, so that Your name may be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, for Your glory alone. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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