We are a society that thrives on confrontation and conflict. If there is anywhere a housewife somewhere that wants to fight her husband’s mistress, the network execs get all excited. They know it they have another movie, reality show, talk show, and with all of them will come high ratings. We all know about Adam’s sin of eating the forbidden fruit, but how quickly we then move to Adam’s son, Cain, murdering his own brother over religious sacrifices. Wow! And we haven’t stopped.
We are not a people attracted to peace. We want peace. We crave peace, but we are attracted to and energized by conflict and confrontation. Even if we are not ‘yellers,’ the emotional surge born in conflict sticks with us. It is not easy to let things go. It is not easy to forgive. It is not easy to live in peace.
The Bible calls for us to do as much as we are able to live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). Even this Scripture is difficult because it reminds us that if we do everything perfectly to resolve conflict, it may remain because it still takes two to tango. Our Verse of the Day is a prayer that we might live in harmony with one another. Doesn’t that sound?
I teach a class on ministry at my church and at one point, the discussion question for the class is what should the church be. The class always describes this utopian experience where everyone is loved and cared for, where there are no fights, quarrels, or even sarcastic looks. They are describing Heaven, the future church. They are describing what we all crave, but it is not realistic because the church is made up of human beings who can be tempted and many times, fall into that temptation. If God expects us to live in harmony with one another, He is going to have to give us some help!!
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, praise the Lord, He is going to give us that help we need. What do we need in order to live in harmony with one another? We need for God to gives us endurance and encouragement so that we can also have the same attitude as Christ Jesus. You remember Jesus, don’t ya? He is the one who hung on the cross and prayed for the forgiveness of those who hung him up. He is the one who referred to Judas as Friend at the very moment Judas was betraying Him. Yeah, our attitude is to be the same as Christ Jesus.
To help us, God gives endurance and encouragement. And we need both. Endurance helps us to suffer without retaliation. It goes hand in hand with forbearance. Forbearance is the attitude of forgiveness before there is an offense committed. It is a willingness and readiness to forgive as soon as there is an offense committed. But where does this attitude come from? It comes from endurance which is the strength to hold our tongue. It is the strength to smile at the one who has hurt you. It is the strength to not lash out. It is the strength to not expose someone to the silent treatment. It is the strength to hold on facial muscles to a non-threatening countenance even as someone is hurling insults at us. This is the power that can come only from the Holy Spirit. This is love so unselfish that it is willing to suffer to show love when presented with hate.
While endurance is great, why would I want endurance? Why would I want to not retaliate? Doesn’t it make sense and frankly, bring a bit of satisfaction, to let someone have it that really deserves it? Endurance is great, but it may not be something that we want except for its twin, encouragement. Encouragement must accompany endurance. Encourage is the hope that the power of loving as Christ loves will change hearts and minds so that the situation we find ourselves in does not last forever.
Consider the power of sin and how quickly we can justify bad behavior and go after the things we want in life whether it be a drug, sex, or just respect from our wife and children. Sin is natural. But it is the unconditional love of Jesus Christ that motivates and inspires us to defy our nature. This is the power of love. When we truly love unconditionally, we send a message that we love the other person even at their worst and this is a truly powerful message. Most people have never been loved like that so when they experience it in genuineness, it is moving. The hope we have is that the same power in the love that Christ gave is also working when we love as Christ loved. He changed my heart by loving me at my worst. And when we love others, the encouragement we receive is that He will work through us and through His love in us to soften the hearts of others near us. Without this encouragement, we will reject endurance because we will have no desire to live in harmony.
The Bible says that Christ faced down the cross for ‘the joy set before Him.’ (Hebrews 12:2). He was willing to endure on the cross, dispensing love and forgiveness as the weight of His body pulled on the bones of his wrist as He hung from the nails driven through Him into the wood. Why did He want to endure like this? It was for the joy He had, knowing that this act of forgiveness would turn the hearts of millions, even billions of people over the course of time. And these would be saved from the power of sin and death. And God can give us the same endurance and encouragement that will manifest in the same attitude that Jesus had, even as He hung on a cross.
How is your family? Is there a lot of fighting? Leave me a comment so I know how to pray for you.
Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!
Pastor Lee is a pastor and Biblical life coach. He has been helping people through counseling, pastoring, teaching, and preaching for 20+ years. His ministry focuses on helping people overcome the strongholds of the past and press on into God’s plan for an abundant life. He has been married to his wife, Amy for 28 years. He has three sons and one daughter-in-love. For more about Pastor Lee or to get some Biblical advice, go to the About page.