“Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble…No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead bless – that is your job.” 1 Peter 3:8-9 (The Message)
Working and living closely together in community in a busy retreat center requires special grace to deal with conflict that arises in stressful situations and to overcome personal differences and forgive the inevitable faux pas in a context with little privacy.
The list in the verse above sounds like something out of utopia and yet, having witnessed firsthand all the hurt and pain that results from responding to conflict out of the unredeemed places in our lives, makes me long to be that kind of person. Wouldn’t it be hard to fight with someone who makes it their job to be agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble? But is it actually possible to master the amount of self-control it would take to display such an attitude and behavior in a disagreement?
Self-control is the last facet of a Spirit-filled life listed in Galatians 5:22. It is striking that for Paul self-control is not defined by what we avoid doing, but as the characteristics of a life guided by the Spirit. Self-control is not the result of our own ability and effort, but it is the fruit of how much we allow God to take control of our lives and our willingness to trust him with the outcome of any situation. We exercise self-control when we trust that God is in control.
Next time you feel a conflict heating up, take a moment to pause before you respond. Can we let go of our hurt pride and trust God to do the judging?
P.S. Read Daniel chapter 3 for a burning-hot story on God’s rescuing power and the self-control and trust in God displayed by Daniel’s three friends!
Prayer of response:
“Lord, in the conflictual situations that cause my steam to build and my blood to boil, help me to redirect my focus and energy on the good fruit you will grow despite the hurt, injustice and anger… if only I let You.”
—Submitted by Gudrun Reeves
(Gudrun lives and works with her husband and four Austro-Texan children in the Christian Retreat Center of Champfleuri (near Grenoble, France) where two LSM schools and several connect soul-care days have taken place.)