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Archive for May 30th, 2016

The most recent JO sermon, about taming your tongue, resonated very powerfully with me. I have a very strong personality, and it has been my fate that the people closest to me have often been of the belligerently argumentative variety, so, as you might imagine, I’ve spent a great deal of time in heated argument… and WINNING, yes, but the point is, although there are certainly times to speak vehemently and persuasively against opposition, and God has been training me for decades to be ready for those times, in personal relationships, God clearly wants us to exercise patience and gentleness rather than killer debate tactics. As JO so often says, the Bible does not say that whoever wins an argument is blessed, or that the person who argues the longest or best is blessed, or that the person who is right is blessed, or that the person who dominates others by the force of their personality is blessed, it says:

Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

    for they will be called children of God.

It also says:

Romans 12:16-18 (NIV)

16 Live in harmony with one another… 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

That’s a pretty clear message. But how does one do this in practice? A strange idea came to me, which often means that it is of divine origin; whether it is or not, I’m giving it a try. I made labels to stick to the upper frame of my monitor. First, I put “flesh” in one corner, and “spirit” in the other corner; this will keep in the upper part of my mind all day long that I have to make the constant choice between the 2 every time a conversation develops the potential to veer away from the productive and the positive. 

Then, I needed a reply for when someone makes an unpleasant pronouncement about what they’re going to do, a decision they’ve made, or some wrong-headed way that they think or feel. I’ll respond with a sentence that begins with what I wrote on my third label, “I’m sorry that you’ve chosen to…” followed by do, not do, believe, etc, and that’s it; no argument, no debate, no discussion, just a polite ending of that line of conversation that might, just MIGHT, cause them to rethink their choices, or at the very least realize that these decisions ARE choices, not requirements, for which they bear full responsibility. 

And finally, if they throw something belligerent at me, or try to push my buttons and get me to participate in a negative conversation, I’ll shut it down with something along the lines of what I put on my fourth label, “There’s no gracious way to…” followed by “discuss this,” “respond to that,” etc. Again, that politely shuts down the conversation, and it has the possibility of getting them thinking about what the gracious things to do and say might be.

These labels will be right in my line of sight all day every day; this will get them down into my spirit. If I can consistently implement their ideas, that will constitute spectacular spiritual progress for me… and allow me to pass what I think might be the final test before God brings me to my next level of restoration. Pray for me!!

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