“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Psalm 133:1-3)
Peace is a blessing coming down from God. It is likened to precious ointment used for anointing during the high priestly era, both costly and fragrant. It is also like the dew on a the special mountain of the Lord (Hermon and Sion are the same).
“And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.” (Luke 10:5, 6)
We are told to actively seek peace as part of our walk with God.
“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14)
And those who seek peace receive further blessings (see also Proverbs 12:20).
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Peace is a trademark of the child of God. They are known by it. In a world fraught with contention, the true peacemaker (not the false, new age, drugged-up, unity-at-the-expense-of-all hippie concept of “peacemaker” you might be thinking of) stands in stark contrast, and is clearly a child of the Most High.
How does one receive the blessing of peace? How does one obtain it in their heart and in their life?
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119:165)
The secret to having peace is actually found in loving the law of the Lord! When you love the commandments of God, you will obey them. And the way of peace is found in them. Just beginning with two great commandments, (loving the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself) – on which hang all the others – we can see how the integrating of these precepts into one’s life can bring peace, when upheld out of love for them. Love for loving God and love for loving your neighbor can do huge things for obtaining peace. Those who love God and walk in the fear of His commandments have peace with their maker. Those who love their neighbor will give no just cause for them to be angry, hurt or embittered towards them.
What is meant by “nothing shall offend them”? In relation to others, if you are obeying the law of the Lord in regard to not being prideful, sensitive or easily provoked to wrath, the hurts that others (willingly or no) inflict upon you do not get under your skin and cause you to stumble. In relation to the Lord, nothing He might ask of you will seem grievous or cause you to turn back. (See Matthew 11:6, Matthew 13:21). Being offended at the things of God, true Bible teaching or at Christian brethren is characteristic of them that are hateful and against God (Matthew 24:10).
Taking offense at others in the home leads to cold, sharp contention and a state of divided warfare:
“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” (Proverbs 18:19)
When peace departs, strife prevails.
“And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.” (2 Chronicles 15:5)
So many American homes are completely without peace; rather they are full of “great vexations.” The removal of peace is a sign of the removal of God’s blessings from a people.
“For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, even lovingkindness and mercies.” (Jeremiah 16:5)
Why are so many of the homes of the world filled with turmoil, arguments, even abuse, domestic violence and crime? Why do family members have such bitter hatred and hostility toward one another?
“There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22)
This may sound extreme in a culture so indifferent to family feuding, but I’ll say it anyway. All the arguing and yelling and strife in the home going on today is wicked and carnal!
“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Corinthians 3:4)
There is no good reason for a Christian family to partake in such things. It is plain carnality and sin, and it needs to be rebuked and repented of. You say, that’s an unrealistic expectation, to think families shouldn’t fight. No, we’ve been conditioned to think such things are normal, unavoidable and even acceptable. Just turn on the TV (actually, don’t do that!) and you will see no end of scenes of children defying their parents, spouses at each others’ throats, yelling, screaming, throwing things, speaking unkindly… the whole nine yards. God hates it and says it’s carnal and He tells us to depart from evil. We need to cleanse ourselves of this scourge on the families of America, specially those that profess the name of Christ. I’m not saying there should never be disagreements. Of course there is room for disagreements and people will have their own opinions. But these disagreements should not turn into the arguments like those of the world. There is a way to maintain peace in a discussion with different opinions being voiced if the family has submitted itself to the obedience of Christ and to the upholding of peace. We can tap into the power of Christ to control our emotions in our interactions with one another rather than exploding with fleshly behaviors that do not please the Lord. There is still a way to act in love towards the other person despite not seeing eye to eye. Sometimes you may have to give up what you want or what you think is best to put them first rather than yourself. You may even have to pipe down. We get in a lot of trouble by broadcasting our opinions all the time when they aren’t asked for. The problem is most people are not willing to do that.
“But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:” (Romans 2:8-10)
Many if not most arguments or even conflicting verbal disagreements wouldn’t ever happen if families were following God’s order in their homes. If children truly had a heart of obedience and honor towards their parents, they would never dream of rebelliously defying them on any grounds. If wives truly were in submission to their husbands and reverenced them as they ought, they would not do or say so many of the things the women of the world do when they don’t agree with their husbands or if they do something that bothers them. In family life you learn that “sometimes it isn’t what you say, but how you say it.” The tone of what some say to their superiors is a major cause for contention. If you are speaking in a manner that is disrespectful or grudging to your authority, even if you are consenting in what you say, then your heart is not in the right place of godly submission towards that person – therefore you are not really in submission to God’s chain of command. The world has tried very hard to wipe out any kind of concept of authority and subordinate roles in family life. If “everyone is equal” than nobody should have to do what someone else tells them to. Everyone should be do whatever they want to do, they say on a level playing ground. Consequently the fruit of this has been rebellion, confusion and every evil work.
A home that is filled with strife and anger is a home that is besieged of the devil and his vices. Where these things prevail, the things of God cannot – they choke it out. Peace in the home is mandatory in order for godliness to blossom and withstand the tempestuous beatings of this life.
“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25)
The godly Christian home, when functioning in obedience to the Bible, will not be like the broken, strife-filled homes of the world. It should not be. It will be a shining light. We are to be a called out assembly in every aspect of our lives, as strangers and pilgrims abstaining from warring fleshly lusts. Sometimes those lusts are to say something we shouldn’t. Those lusts are like a burning coal in your heart, making you feel like you want to pop unless you just speak your mind.
The Christian home on earth is supposed to be an earthly depiction of the order of heavenly things: the father as Christ the head, the mother as the Church in submission to him, the children as disciples taught up in the things of the Lord. When there are the bitter waters of war and fighting among them, it mars this beautiful picture. Something is wrong; carnality and confusion is at play. How can God be honored by such things? It is in such an environment that good fruit is hindered and evil flourishes.
“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (James 3:16)
Evil is at work in the place of envying and strife.
“For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults…” (2 Corinthians 12:20)
All of these are symptoms of a deeper spiritual problem. They manifest in these forms, but at the root there is more going on than meets the eye – in the heart (Matthew 15:19). What are the things that lead to the disruption of peace? Until you deal with the root cause, there really can be no end to strife and all of these things. It’s more than just saying, “don’t argue with each other and get along.” You can’t fix it that way. We have to look deeper than what we can easily witness with the eyes or ears.
Pride, Anger, Envy & Rebellion
I think like many things, the best way to stop strife and arguments from happening is prevention. As with a disease, when you are trying to use treatments typically the damage has already been done and things have already gotten out of hand. If you want to have a peaceful home one thing to do is you have to start looking at the causes of strife and the things that lead up to it. The outbreaks of strife are only symptomatic in nature, and if you can eliminate those causes (such as anger, pride, rebellion, envy) then you are getting to the root of the issue. It is a much more effective and spiritually constructive approach. Honestly, even if there are no visible tensions in a family and things run smoothly to the outward appearance, but if those people secretly all are at enmity with one another or harbor these things, the problem is still there. As an analogy, instead of appearing on the skin to the naked eye, the tumor just requires an X-ray to see and it is just as dangerous. So let’s look at the causes of strife and how to prevent them.
This is something I know many people struggle with, including myself. I confess with grief that I naturally tend to have a hot temper, in my sin nature. When something gets under my skin, it is very easy for me to feel those urges bubbling inside, even while in the back of my mind I know better than to do and say the things I do. For me as of now (and probably throughout my whole earthly stay) it’s an area in my life that needs continual attention.
Now, not all anger is wrong. Anger can be a good thing, when it is towards things that God hates. We have it built within us to be “riled up” when injustice or iniquity is apparent. The Lord Himself looked round about with anger on the Jews for the hardness of their hearts. He also was angry with them that sold and bought in the temple and profaned it with thievery. That was a zealous anger, which was perfectly holy and righteous. Anger towards wickedness is not sinful, because God Himself can become angry, even to the point of destroying cities and nations. And God cannot sin.
But anger is like a lit match. It only needs a little fuel to turn into a roaring fire. In fact, anger is likened to fire in the Bible many times in many ways. Listen to all the words associated with anger: “burn[s]” (Gen 44:18), “kindled” (Gen 30:2, Exodus 4:14, Numbers 11:1), “hot” (Exodus 32:19, Exodus 32:22), “smoke” (Deuteronomy 29:20, Psalm 74:1), “heat” (Deuteronomy 29:24), “fire” (Deuteronomy 32:22), “firebrands” (Isaiah 7:4), “flame” (Isaiah 30:30). (Note I did not include all of the verses in these examples that reference the terms in conjunction with anger.) Anger is many times referred to as “provoked” (1 Kings 16:7, 14, 27, 33, 21:22). It can be “great,” “fierce,” “troubling,” “devouring” and “consuming.” And does it not feel that way? When you are really mad, you physically get hotter. Your face may turn red or sweat if your anger is fierce. There is a sensation of burning inside you, like a kettle on the hot stove. That’s where we get the phrase steaming mad. You have an inward pressure building up, just begging to be let loose in the form of a sharp retort, slamming a door… maybe an even worse fleshly desire.
But a good part of the anger we experience as fallen man is not holy or righteous, but is of our flesh. It can be very selfish. It can be very prideful. It is a powerful thing that can totally take over if we let it. This kind of anger is not loving or putting the other person first like we are supposed to. How many countless crimes have been committed out of anger, that would have not been committed had the person controlled theirs? How many relationships become ruined for life because of anger-fueled arguments? I could go on, but you get the point.
It is synonymous with “hot displeasure,” “indignation,” “wrath,” “fury” and “rage.” (Deuteronomy 9:19, Deuteronomy 29:28)
Being quick to anger is not a good way to develop a godly character, nor is it a good way to have peace on any level. Do little things bother you, causing you to swiftly retort with sharp words or say something to hurt the other person back (backbiting)? I think of a dog that, when his tail gets pulled, whirls around with fangs bared and ready to attack. When somebody gets on your nerves, do you instantly find yourself filled with wrath towards them? As fallible men, we are cautioned against being quick-tempered in the Bible. Perhaps it could be because most of our anger is not motivated by righteousness, and once anger gets out of control it is very difficult to reign in and it can do a whole lot of damage. Does your anger control you, or do you control it? We should never let ourselves be overcome with anything that is not of God, to be brought into captivity and the snare… sometimes we don’t know the full extent of what we are capable in our flesh – until it is too late.
Sadly I have much work to do in this area. Maybe you do too, I don’t know. If so here are some verses for both of us:
“Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
“He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly. (Proverbs 14:29)
Have you ever realized that perhaps your temper is glorifying foolishness, not God? There is also direct connection between a hot temper and strife.
“A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.” (Proverbs 15:18)
It is easy for anger to control you, but you are much better off controlling it.
“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” (Proverbs 16:3)
It is interesting that being slow to anger is an attribute of God.
“The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” (Psalm 145:8)
His also does not last long (see also Jeremiah 3:12).
“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life…” (Psalm 30:5)
“He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.” (Psalm 13:9)
God is not honored by a wrathful man (in the fleshly sense, as opposed to holy wrath).
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19, 20)
This verse is a very good one to remember when you feel like you want to get angry at someone and spout off. When you feel like you are getting hot under the collar, it is a very wise idea to refrain your tongue if you can do so without being disrespectful in that situation. Words spoken in anger are usually the sparks that ignite a roaring argument. Wait until you have calmed down. While you wait, pray, think of Bible verses about anger, think of Bible verses about loving one another, forgiving one another and respecting authority. If you are going to be quick to do something, be quick to hear that other person. Who knows, it might help you from jumping to the wrong conclusions about whatever is the problem. When you err on that side of things rather than saying what is on the tip of your tongue, you are loosing the grip of anger over you. It is interesting also to note that you getting angry in your flesh does not help God show forth His righteousness!
When you control your anger, you are being discreet or wise. The visible manifestation of deferring (or, turning away) anger? Passing over a transgression. Rather than fixate on what that person did that only feeds the flames of your wrath, passing over the transgression is merciful and glorious to you! Maybe they didn’t apologize like you wished they would, or maybe not at all. Sometimes it can seem impossible to move on until you hear them humble themselves before you. But it is better for you to overlook it and rise above it.
“The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. (Proverbs 19:11)
What about if you are the target of someone else’s anger?
We find a helpful solution for subduing anger when someone is angry with you in Proverbs:
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
The worst thing you can do when someone is saying angry words to you is shoot back more angry words and “get into it.”
Being soft-spoken is not only becoming to us as ladies for many reasons, but it has great spiritual implications as a facilitator of peace. A gentle voice tone combined with gentle words is like rain on on a fire. It’s so much harder to have a fight with someone who is passive and calming rather than inflaming.
Here is another way to smooth over things when someone who is angry at you, maybe even REALLY angry at you:
“A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.” (Proverbs 21:14)
Gifts aren’t limited to things you can touch, such as flowers, sweets or money (though these may have a place at times). Sometimes it can be going out of your way to do something extra kind for that person, like doing one of their chores for them or even giving them a back rub! Of course, if you do these things to get noticed by others it is no longer secret and they will suspect you of just trying to get attention.
A Bigger Picture
The Lord is forgiving, compassionate and merciful, as He wants us to be! (Psalm 78:38). When we exemplify these things, we glorify Christ. We are a depiction of these wonderful things that God showers upon us.
Direct Fruit of Anger, Vengeance
I tend to get angry when someone wrongs me. My natural inclination (motivated by anger) is to fight back and retaliate. Retaliation can show itself in different ways. It may be lashing back verbally. It may be to do something unkind that would hurt the person who hurt you. It may be even be simply holding a grudge, which is really just a subtle way of retaliating. If you dig deeper you find that retaliation is motivated by vengeance, seeking to “get even,” get “payback” or punish the other person. Not all vengeance is action-based. Words can be very vengeful. Vengeance or revenge is something that God does not want us to practice because it is His (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19). It is not for us as Christians to avenge ourselves. As hard as it may be to accept, it is wrong to want someone else to suffer in any way for what they did to you. And it does take the spirit of the Lord to take that kind of fight out of you.
“Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” (Proverbs 24:7)
Envy can be an even deadlier enemy to peace than anger. When you want what someone else has, all of this bitterness and hatred wells up in your heart, making it impossible to be kind to them.
We see an example of this all the way back in Genesis.
“And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.” (Genesis 37:4)
There is a connection between their envy specifically made with reference to this verse in Acts 7:9, which clearly reveals that envy was the motivation behind selling their own brother Joseph into Egypt. He had not wronged them, but they wanted what he had. They were covetous. Covetousness has a lot of bad implications for everyone affected by it.
Notice how envy leads to strife:
“And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from the the fruit of the womb?” (Genesis 30:1)
Envy is very destructive to the one who bears it.
“A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)
So we are cautioned against walking in it:
“Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.” (Romans 13:14)
“Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26)
Desirous of vain glory… that thing that looks so good to you that someone else has but you don’t. Perhaps, that life you see someone else living? that car? that pretty face or fame? The list goes on.
Bitterness and envy (and of course, strife) are connected:
“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” (James 3:14)
Showing partiality can make your home a breeding ground for envy. When you have a “pet” child or sibling, so to speak, it tempts the others to feel envious. There are warranted times when not everything is going to be divied out perfectly equally, but it’s important to avoid creating such situations needlessly. Love needs to extended to all members, though perhaps in different ways unique to each person. See James 3:17.
“When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
(This theme is echoed in Proverbs 29:23.)
Much is said in the Scriptures regarding the evil of pride. In the precious and holy King James Bible, pride with regards to men is condemned 100% of the time. The following was once a very well-known verse, and still is in some circles:
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
Pride and strife go hand in hand like two peas in a pod. In fact, pride is at the bottom of every single argument! Anger may feed the fires of strife, but that anger is driven by pride. You would not be angry at that person who hurt you if you were truly humble, because you would be putting them first rather than your own feelings. Envy may cause contention, but envy is only possible because of pride. A lowly heart in submission to the Word of God would love one’s neighbor rather than envy them. It would not exalt itself by thinking it deserves what it has, let alone more than that. Rebellion always begins with pride, with subjects being puffed up against their authorities.
“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10)
God protects His beloved children from the threat of pride – and strife.
“Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.” (Psalm 31:20)
Pride, synonymous with arrogancy, is likened to a chain in Psalm 73:6. It binds its victims so tightly. The prideful man is enslaved by his own stubborn, hard-hearted, strong-willed, stiff-necked ways. Pride deceives (Obadiah 1:3). Pride is selfish. It magnifies self and actually scorns God and others (Zephaniah 2:10). Pride gives the devil something to condemn you in (1 Timothy 3:6). Why is that? Pride is one of his attributes; it is what caused him to fall in his rebellion against God. Notice the theme of self-exaltation in the following passage:
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:12)
As children of the Lord, we should have a very strong hatred against pride. We should vehemently desire to get it out of our lives completely and despise it with a passion!
“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward mouth, do I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13)
Do you want to be a God-fearing lady? Hatred is not always bad. Hate pride! Hate it also because pride, as a strong hold, and an high thing, exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). It is the enemy of virtue. And rather than let pride take you captive and tie its cruel chains about you, bring it into captivity! It is disobedience that must be rightly revenged! (2 Corinthians 10:6). How does one lead pride captive? By embracing its opposition, meekness and humility. The heart that upholds such things cannot be conquered by pride. It will destroy it, and get the victory every time. When you wholeheartedly submit to God and your authorities with a humble attitude, when you esteem others better than yourself, when you see yourself as truly unworthy of the least of the blessings which God has given you in His great mercy, pride can take no foothold in your life.
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Instead of being on the lookout for #1, seek the best interest of one another.
“Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” (1 Corinthians 10:24)
Are you actively seeking how you can make someone else happier, more comfortable, more profitable, more blessed, more abundant? Or do your activities center around what makes you happy, what brings you pleasure? Something to think about. See, this is a huge theme of Christ-centered living in the Bible – self-sacrifice. And it is not natural. Fallen man is very self-seeking, he is always looking for ways to advance his own cause many times at the expense of others. The selfishness of pride is an enemy that must be waged war against in the Christian life. It takes the help of the Holy Ghost to overcome that monster of pride. It is astonishing how those believers who have given up their own desires often find enormous joy and fulfillment in laying down their lives for their brethren! Just look at the believers in the book of Acts who sold their possessions so they could distribute the money through the Church. Granted, sometimes it isn’t an easy or fun road in certain respects, but we do it because we should, because God wants us to, and not because it makes us feel warm and fuzzy. There is still a miraculous freedom whether the road of self-sacrifice is pleasant or difficult.
Bearing a Grudge
“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)
Somebody wounds you. Somebody says something that cuts like a knife. Somebody lets you down, or does something they shouldn’t have. It is all to easy to find yourself harboring a grudge. You want to let them know they hurt you but you don’t want to come right out and say it. You just send little unspoken signals to that person in your voice tone, your silence, your facial expressions, your other mannerisms. You close up like a snail in its shell, walling them off. You are reluctant to be nice to that person – maybe you don’t even want to speak to them. But what saith the Scripture?
“Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:9-11)
We are given three examples for how to handle when someone hurts us, and a warning against grudge-bearing.
Firstly, the prophets. They suffered very great affliction.
“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:36-38)
The offenses of another against you may seem insurmountable now for you to bear, but the things mentioned in this verse might help to put things in perspective. God required it of them to endure them. Is it a very large thing that He should require it of you to let go of something you are holding onto, in comparison to that? The virtue of patience can only be achieved by going through tribulation – in fact we can glory in them! (Romans 5:3). If everyone was always kind to you all the time, if things were always rosy, if life was always easy you would never have the chance to grow that side of your character. That is a big part of why we can actually be happy as we endure.
The second example we are given is Job. Job did not deserve the things that were happening to him because of a certain sin. But God had him go through a good deal of trials. He lost his children, he lost his goods, he lost his health, and his wife even ridiculed him. Again, is that thing you are bearing a grudge over anything in comparison to all that? Is whatever problem you are having with someone else on par with his? But he had to go through it. He had to take the affliction and discomfort and sorrow of heart, bearing the burdens. We are told to bear the burdens of others to carry out the commands of Christ.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
Finally, I love how this little passage ends with the Lord’s piteousness and mercy upheld as our greatest example in endurance. It also is a comforting reminder that God is not allowing these things to happen for our harm, but rather out of His mercy for our good! He pities us in the trials. But He still asks that we go through it and submit ourselves to His word throughout. When we are forgiving to someone, we are a small representation of God’s mercy toward us here on earth.
Meekness, the Missing Antidote
A little bit about non-retaliation here. I won’t talk on this matter extensively here, but a heart of meekness in a home will take it leaps and bounds towards the path of peace. In fact, without meekness it is impossible to submit to authority. Without submission to authority in a home we run into head-butting and rebellion. Without meekness, pride and a me-first mentality will take over and do great damage to relationships among siblings, to name one dynamic.
Meekness will manifest itself in two ways:
1. Not being easily provoked.
Often times arguments spring up over little matters – things that aren’t really that big of a deal in the big picture but we blow them up in our minds. Things that just irk us to no end and gnaw on our hearts but are actually not very important. It could be what someone says to you that rubs you the wrong way. It could be someone not doing something you wanted them to, or doing something you didn’t want them to do. The unregenerate home is constantly filled with bickering over minor issues. But as we talked about in the section on anger, the wrath of man is very flammable and more often than not fleshly.
So how does this tie into meekness? Well, someone who is meek learns to overlook such things. They prefer the other person before themselves. They may even turn it around and give thanks to the Lord for that thing that could have bothered them. Example: “Oh Lord, my sister left the bathroom a disaster again after I just cleaned it, even though I worked so long. But I thank thee for putting her in my life to help grow my patience and that she is a close part of my life. I would miss her so much if she was away. Help me to show her thy kindness and mercy in picking up after her again rather than complain and make a fuss. I thank thee also that I can practice doing so for my future husband and children and make our home a better place to be.” That is how to prevent an argument! That kind of an attitude will bless a home so much and please God! And it demonstrates putting the other person first, instead of maybe demanding the messy sister do their part or even chide her for her inconsideration (which could be a lit match to gunpowder). Now on the flip side, suppose the messy sister got an earful from her tidy sister who perhaps sadly has a moment of carnality. What would God want her to do? Let that get her riled up and start making excuses, or worse – telling her not to boss her around, etc.? A soft answer turneth away wrath. Apologizing sincerely and immediately for causing that other person grief. Offering to clean it up right away. Or even do extra cleaning in exchange. All of those options avert strife. If you aren’t meek, apologizing is hard to do… especially apologizing when you don’t think you really were in the wrong! But even if you aren’t, if someone is mad at you, if you try a little bit you can find a reason to apologize. Only someone who is meek will even consider it.
Another lovely fruit of meekness is self-control. One who is meek in heart would be appalled at doing things that result in strife, not always for that reason, but because they truly desire to respect authority and put others first. They wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise.
How does one demonstrate self-control?
The Healing Salve of Non-retaliation
I want to talk about this more in another post, but feel it is a good time to touch on it here. Retaliation isn’t always blowing up with temper. Sometimes retaliation is that knee-jerk reaction we have to defend ourselves. Sometimes that spirit of prideful retaliation comes with subtilty, such as delivering a calm rebuke, trying to correct how someone thinks, etc. There are many ways. It takes trust in God not to follow them. Arguing is always a two-way street. Sometimes spiteful people will say things to try to “get a rise out of you.” It’s sad, but it happens. Some people study to find exactly what formula of words or actions they can use to just stick you like a knife. That can HURT! But Christ is set before us as our example.
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:21-24)
Taming the Tongue
Here is some practical application of what we learned concerning anger, pride, rebellion and envy.
Watch your words! There is truth in the saying many times, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” How you come across, your tone of voice, is actually where many arguments breed. A sharp tongue provokes and wounds.
“There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.” (Proverbs 12:18)
Often those piercings happen when you are being pressured in some way: “Don’t bother me now, can’t you see I’m busy?!” as dinner is bubbling over onto the stove while your little brother is asking you to look at a bug he found. There are a hundred countless such phrases that burst out in a fit of passion, or when someone says something that you find hurtful. Maybe they bring up something you tend to do or a mistake you made. Then you shoot back, “Well, you know what you do…” These are words that only lead to strife.
We need to be very careful about guarding what we would “blurt out.” Think before you speak is a wise idiom. A whole lot of evil can be thwarted if we just stop to weigh our words with what God would have us say versus what we want to say. Our first “reaction” will not usually be good. Or maybe a thought just pops into our head that seems like a fitting thing to say. Trying to be witty or find that crushing remark is not a godly pursuit. It is just saying something to get attention and approval of men.
It’s so important to remember how dangerous our words can be. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). What you say is the #1 factor in the tone of your relationships and your life. It could very well be more significant than your actions, and actually this view is supported by Scripture (James 3:2). There is also a whole lot of iniquity in our tongues (James 3:7).
I want to close with some final thoughts here and a word of comfort. It may seem impossible to overcome these faults that lead to strife in the home. Sometimes our emotions can be extremely powerful and it can seem an unrealistic expectation to bypass them and do what God wants us to do when the situation arises.
But God doesn’t ever ask us to do anything that is absolutely impossible. Oh, impossible with men, yes. In our natural state apart from the Lord, when we are carnally minded and walking as men, there isn’t hope. But not with His power (Luke 1:37). If you have a close walk with the Lord and a heart of obedience to Him, He can give you the strength to do anything He would ever ask of you, regardless of how unconventional or seemingly impossible to the world that may be (Philipians 4:13). This is why we need the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives to help us overcome our own flesh nature, which continually wars inside us.