Brr! I walked outside this morning and there was a chill in the air! It sure feels like the start of fall! To me, fall says college football watching with nachos, chicken wings, and dip, long hikes through woods exploding with color, and cool nights under a blanket with a mug of hot tea. Fall is by far my favorite season.
Rather than fall representing the end of growth, fall is energizing to me. There is a quickening in the air, a sense that change is coming.
It is also a time for reflection. The year is coming to a close. All those great goals from January – what happened to them? Am I closer to where I wanted to be?
Last month we looked at taming the tongue. It’s no coincidence that this month we’re looking at managing conflict. The two are intertwined; if we all had a lot more control over our tongue, we’d have a lot fewer conflicts.
In today’s world of phones, emails, texts, and social media, the opportunity for conflict is ever greater. What’s more, taming the tongue is no longer valued as a sign of maturity and self-control. Instead, now people start Facebook posts with “I just have to put this out there…” and post not-so-cryptic memes that are clearly aimed at specific people in their lives.
The Bible tells us that Satan is prowling like a lion, looking for opportunities to devour someone (1 Peter 5:8). We are daily presented with these opportunities – that’s a fact. We have to decide now who we’re going to be, how we’re going to respond. We can follow the world and say what we want, what makes us feel good, show how right we are. Kaboom, conflict.
Or we can do what Jesus prescribes. Turn the other cheek, be a peacemaker, forgive even those who have wronged us.
When soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter responded with the way of the world – conflict. He drew his sword and cut off a soldier’s ear. But Jesus responded in the way of grace – he told Peter to put away the sword and he healed the soldier’s ear.
Are we more like Simon Peter? Or are we more like Jesus?
Do our actions foster conflict? Or do they foster peace?
As I said last month, the biggest source of conflict in my life is not my personal life, but my work life. Last week, I had a situation that made me so upset. I felt it was unfair and completely unjust. I was so upset about it that it kept me up at night. I wanted nothing more than to call out the person who I thought was being unjust.
But instead, I prayed for peace. I prayed for self-control. I prayed for wisdom. I checked my motivations and found that what was driving me was really ego, and I knew that wasn’t right.
Rather than calling out the person and likely blowing up the situation into a larger conflict, I chose a different path. The time for the conflict passed and peace reigned instead.
When Satan comes prowling, choose peace.