Tongues AfireWhen have you recently endured the wound of another person’s words?
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What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil
desires at war within you? (James 4:1).
I would rather work with pagans than with other
My friend’s statement wouldn’t be particularly
surprising for an agnostic or atheist to make. But he’s a
minister. Why can believers in Jesus sometimes be so
difficult and nasty? How does that resonate with the way
Jesus told us to resolve conflict?
In ancient Mesopotamia, Abraham’s son Isaac showed
a gracious way to deal with conflict that foreshadowed
the radically peaceful ways of the not-yet-born Messiah.
Although Isaac was an outsider in the land of the
Philistines, he had become conspicuously wealthy. Out of
spite, the locals filled in his wells. (That’s a big problem
in an arid country!) To keep the peace, King Abimelech
ordered Isaac to hit the trail (Genesis 26:16).
So Isaac moved and reopened wells his father had
dug. The locals squawked about that too. But rather than
fight, Isaac moved again. And again he experienced
conflict with the residents over water rights. Finally, after
a third move, Isaac found water and peace. Eventually,
he would prosper more than ever.
It’s often difficult to know when to fight and when to move
on. Jesus was a man of peace, who willingly sacrificed
His life for us. Isaiah 53 prophesied how He would be
“unjustly condemned” (v.8). He was “led like a lamb to
the slaughter,” yet “He did not open His mouth” (v.7). But
another Scripture states that there is also “a time for war” (Ecclesiastes 3:8).
For now, the apostle Paul gives us a worthy goal: “Do all that you can to live
in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
Lord, please help us to know when it’s time to dig in our heels for a noble
cause, and when it’s time to relinquish what is rightfully ours, pack up, and dig
Read Luke 6:27 to see Jesus’ advice for dealing with—and
avoiding—conflict. What does James 4:1-6 add about the root causes
of violence and verbal squabbles?
What is causing conflict in your life today? Is it something worth fighting
for? Are your motives pure regarding this matter?
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